As the story goes, in the early centuries of the first millennium AD, Ethiopian goat herders noticed that their goats became more excitable after consuming the cherries of a particular tree. The lucky herders tried the cherries of the coffee tree, felt the caffeine jolt, and that’s how coffee was discovered.  We don’t know whether the story is true — so far we have found no evidence of hyperactive goats.  But, historical evidence from the 8 to 10 centuries AD, suggests that by then the cherries, beans and other parts of the coffee plant were consumed in their raw form as an energy booster.

  • By the 13th century the people of Arabia roasted and drank coffee.
  • Coffee trees were first cultivated in Arabia in the 14th century.
  • Humans consume close to 13 billion pounds of coffee (over 7 billion kg) per year.
  • Finns consume the most coffee per capita — over 26lb — annually. That is enough coffee beans to make almost 55 gallons or 1,100 cups of coffee, or almost 1,700 single espressos.
  • Americans, who are not near the top of the coffee drinking list, consume over 9lb of coffee per person annually, or close to 3 million lbs (1.36 million kg) in total.
  • Coffee is the world’s second most exported commodity after crude oil.
  • Brazil is the world’s largest coffee producer, producing over 30% of the world’s coffee beans.
  • It takes roughly .25oz (7g) ground coffee to make one 1oz shot of espresso; .4 oz (11g) ground coffee to make one 8oz cup of drip coffee.
  • One pound of roasted coffee beans makes 64oz of espresso or 40 cups of drip coffee.
  • One roasted coffee bean weighs approximately ___ oz (__g).
  • One pound of coffee beans contains approximately ___ beans.
  • The caffeine content in a 8oz cup of drip coffee is 150-200mg, on average.  But caffeine content varies dramatically among coffee varieties. It also depends on the amount of ground coffee used per cup, among other factors.  So, the caffeine in an 8oz cup of drip coffee can vary from less than 100mg to more than 300mg.
  • A single espresso shot contains about 90-110mg of caffeine on average, but can vary from as little as 60mg of caffeine per shot to as much as 170mg per shot.
  • For comparison, a 12oz can of caffeinated soda contains about 35mg of caffeine, with some high caffeine sodas containing more than 50mg of caffeine per can.
  • There are two main commercial coffee varieties — Arabica and Robusta.  There are several sub-varieties or types within each of the main coffee varieties.  Arabica coffee, the descendant of the coffee tree that the Ethiopian goats ate more than thousand years ago, is milder, contains less caffeine, and is the more expensive of the two. It accounts for 70% of the world’s coffee consumption. The Robusta variety is hardier, tastes stronger and is higher in caffeine content. It is the cheaper variety.
  • The most expensive coffee in the world, however, Kopi Luwak, is a robusta variety. It is collected from the poop of a small furry creature with pointy ears, the civet. Civets eat coffee cherries, and the enzymes in their stomachs alter the taste of the coffee beans, which are collected from the civet’s feces. Kopi is Indonesian for coffee and Luwak for civet. Prices for high quality Kopi Luwak roasted beans can be in excess of $300/lb.

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