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10 Fascinating Facts about Coffee

  • The coffee plant was discovered in Ethiopian forests at least 1,000 years ago.
  • The word “coffee” comes from the Turkish word qahwa, for a wine-like drink. “Java” is an Indonesian island where Dutch coffee plantations were located.
  • In 17th-century London, coffeehouses were called “penny universities,” because for the price of a cup of coffee, you could listen for hours to enlightening talk.
  • Caffeine can relieve headaches by constricting the brain’s blood vessels.
  • Plants use caffeine as a natural pesticide to paralyze and kill destructive insects.
  • About 15 billion pounds of coffee are shipped around the world each year.
  • Coffee cultivation is hard work! Pickers are typically paid by the basket-full and an adult picker can harvest over 200 pounds of coffee berries a day.
  • To earn Fair Trade certifications, importers must pay a minimum (around $1.26 per pound) directly to farmer cooperatives, as well as provide access to credit and commit to long-term relationships with individual farmers.
  • Shade-grown coffee is much better for the environment than sun-grown coffee.  More than a half-pound of chemical fertilizers and pesticides are needed for every pound of sun-grown coffee produced.
  • Since the 1960s, when new varieties of sun-tolerant coffee were developed, scientists have noted an alarming decline in migratory birds. Shade-grown coffee provides the forest canopy environment upon which many species of migratory birds rely for survival.