Coffee Confidential! 15 bitter truths on MENA's morning addiction

Published February 16th, 2015 - 11:56 GMT

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Ah, coffee. About a third of our species consumes the stuff, sipping 1,400 million cups daily. This caffeine-laden beverage is a liquid chameleon; it can calm or invigorate, be served up hot or cold,  taste straight-up bitter or as sweet and filling as dessert. But buyer, beware! The price of your grande latte will likely skyrocket this year after a record drought in Brazil, which produces almost a third of the world's coffee beans. Continue reading below »

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One legend about coffee’s discovery is that of Kaldi, an Ethiopian herder, who was puzzled by his goats’ wacky antics. In 850 AD, he supposedly sampled the berries of the evergreen bush which his goats were munching and, on experiencing a sense of exhilaration, proclaimed his discovery to the world. So says the Encyclopedia Britannica!
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Image 1 of 15:  1 / 15One legend about coffee’s discovery is that of Kaldi, an Ethiopian herder, who was puzzled by his goats’ wacky antics. In 850 AD, he supposedly sampled the berries of the evergreen bush which his goats were munching and, on experiencing a sense of exhilaration, proclaimed his discovery to the world. So says the Encyclopedia Britannica!

Enlarge
Coffee gained immense popularity in the Middle East at the turn of the first millennium. The drink spread alongside Islam, as worshipers believed it enhanced their religious experience. No coffee trees were grown outside of the Middle East for more than 500 years, only boiled or sterilized beans were exported - until Baba Budan came along.
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Image 2 of 15:  2 / 15Coffee gained immense popularity in the Middle East at the turn of the first millennium. The drink spread alongside Islam, as worshipers believed it enhanced their religious experience. No coffee trees were grown outside of the Middle East for more than 500 years, only boiled or sterilized beans were exported - until Baba Budan came along.

Enlarge
All the world's coffee came from seven seeds that were smuggled out of Arabia by Baba Budan, a 17th century Sufi pilgrim who is believed to have introduced the coffee plant to India, and the wider world. This Indian holy man also worshiped a good cup of coffee, he risked severe punishment for the chance to cultivate his own coffee back home.
Reduce

Image 3 of 15:  3 / 15All the world's coffee came from seven seeds that were smuggled out of Arabia by Baba Budan, a 17th century Sufi pilgrim who is believed to have introduced the coffee plant to India, and the wider world. This Indian holy man also worshiped a good cup of coffee, he risked severe punishment for the chance to cultivate his own coffee back home.

Enlarge
Arab traders in 1,000 AD called the drink ‘qahwa’, the Turks called it ‘kahve’.  The beans traveled north to the Netherlands where it was used to brew ‘koffee’, and the British christened it ‘coffee’. But only in ancient Arabia could a woman legally divorce her husband if he didn't provide enough of the brew!
Reduce

Image 4 of 15:  4 / 15Arab traders in 1,000 AD called the drink ‘qahwa’, the Turks called it ‘kahve’. The beans traveled north to the Netherlands where it was used to brew ‘koffee’, and the British christened it ‘coffee’. But only in ancient Arabia could a woman legally divorce her husband if he didn't provide enough of the brew!

Enlarge
In Turkey, Greece, and much of the Middle East, ancient coffee is a part of their ancient culture. Today, they welcome their guests with coffee as a heartfelt gesture of hospitality. Visiting those zip codes?  Take a moment to learn their coffee cultures or risk a serious misstep if you refuse an offered cup!
Reduce

Image 5 of 15:  5 / 15In Turkey, Greece, and much of the Middle East, ancient coffee is a part of their ancient culture. Today, they welcome their guests with coffee as a heartfelt gesture of hospitality. Visiting those zip codes? Take a moment to learn their coffee cultures or risk a serious misstep if you refuse an offered cup!

Enlarge
More people prefer coffee to sex. Researchers surveyed over 7,000 coffee drinkers, finding that 51% claimed they could go longer without sex than they could go without coffee. An unscientific survey in the Al Bawaba news room bears that research out!
Reduce

Image 6 of 15:  6 / 15More people prefer coffee to sex. Researchers surveyed over 7,000 coffee drinkers, finding that 51% claimed they could go longer without sex than they could go without coffee. An unscientific survey in the Al Bawaba news room bears that research out!

Enlarge
Like sex, coffee can kill you, if the amount exceeds the safety limit. The lethal dose of coffee for an adult is calculated at 100 cups of brew. So steep coffee chain prices can be viewed as a public health and safety measure: who could afford 100 cups?
Reduce

Image 7 of 15:  7 / 15Like sex, coffee can kill you, if the amount exceeds the safety limit. The lethal dose of coffee for an adult is calculated at 100 cups of brew. So steep coffee chain prices can be viewed as a public health and safety measure: who could afford 100 cups?

Enlarge
In the sixteenth century, Muslim rulers banned coffee due to it’s ‘nervous effects’. Coffee has been banned 3 times in history: in Mecca in the 16th century, by King Charles II in Europe in 1675, and by Frederick the Great in Germany in 1677.  Bet a lot of of people didn't think Fred was so great after that.
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Image 8 of 15:  8 / 15In the sixteenth century, Muslim rulers banned coffee due to it’s ‘nervous effects’. Coffee has been banned 3 times in history: in Mecca in the 16th century, by King Charles II in Europe in 1675, and by Frederick the Great in Germany in 1677. Bet a lot of of people didn't think Fred was so great after that.

Enlarge
It’s crazy how much water is used to support our caffeine habit: as example, one third of North America’s tap water is used to brew coffee. Ironically, the nations with the largest coffee addiction are often the most water-starved on earth. These include Ethiopia, Iraq, Egypt, Jordan and Syria.
Reduce

Image 9 of 15:  9 / 15It’s crazy how much water is used to support our caffeine habit: as example, one third of North America’s tap water is used to brew coffee. Ironically, the nations with the largest coffee addiction are often the most water-starved on earth. These include Ethiopia, Iraq, Egypt, Jordan and Syria.

Enlarge
Can the color of the mug influence the taste of your coffee? Researchers say coffee tastes more intense and less sweet when served in a white cup (vs. the same drink in a blue or transparent cup). They concluded that color contrast might explain the results: if coffee is perceived as darker it could make the taste seem stronger.
Reduce

Image 10 of 15:  10 / 15Can the color of the mug influence the taste of your coffee? Researchers say coffee tastes more intense and less sweet when served in a white cup (vs. the same drink in a blue or transparent cup). They concluded that color contrast might explain the results: if coffee is perceived as darker it could make the taste seem stronger.

Enlarge
Dark roasted beans contain less caffeine than lighter beans. A company called ‘Death Wish Coffee’ sells the world’s most highly caffeinated organic coffee, made from beans with close to 200% the caffeine as your typical coffee shop coffee. One customer wrote, “'This coffee should be called 'Resurrection.' It's brought my life back to life!'
Reduce

Image 11 of 15:  11 / 15Dark roasted beans contain less caffeine than lighter beans. A company called ‘Death Wish Coffee’ sells the world’s most highly caffeinated organic coffee, made from beans with close to 200% the caffeine as your typical coffee shop coffee. One customer wrote, “"This coffee should be called 'Resurrection.' It's brought my life back to life!"

Enlarge
Nescafe, habibi? George Washington may be the ‘father of the United States’, but it was George ‘C.’ Washington who’s the ‘father of instant caffeine gratification’. The English chemist invented instant coffee in Guatemala in 1906. The product was commercially launched in 1909.
Reduce

Image 12 of 15:  12 / 15Nescafe, habibi? George Washington may be the ‘father of the United States’, but it was George ‘C.’ Washington who’s the ‘father of instant caffeine gratification’. The English chemist invented instant coffee in Guatemala in 1906. The product was commercially launched in 1909.

Enlarge
Burn some bucks on your beans? Kopi Luwak is the most expensive coffee in the world. The beans are eaten, then excreted by Sumatran wild cats. The end result is supposedly caramel tasting, with the unusually ‘processed’ beans sell at $3,000/Kg.
Reduce

Image 13 of 15:  13 / 15Burn some bucks on your beans? Kopi Luwak is the most expensive coffee in the world. The beans are eaten, then excreted by Sumatran wild cats. The end result is supposedly caramel tasting, with the unusually ‘processed’ beans sell at $3,000/Kg.

Enlarge
There’s a new trend where you add grass-fed butter and coconut oil to your brew. ‘Bulletproof’ coffee allegedly ups your energy and increases cognitive function for about six hours, and without the caffeine crash. So pass on the milk and sugar to regulate cholesterol, boost brain cells and strengthen cell walls. Has anyone tried this stuff?
Reduce

Image 14 of 15:  14 / 15There’s a new trend where you add grass-fed butter and coconut oil to your brew. ‘Bulletproof’ coffee allegedly ups your energy and increases cognitive function for about six hours, and without the caffeine crash. So pass on the milk and sugar to regulate cholesterol, boost brain cells and strengthen cell walls. Has anyone tried this stuff?

Enlarge
Recently, scientists have been researching other uses of coffee beans. There’s conjecture that coffee beans may replace fossil fuels in motor engines in the coming centuries. If bean prices keep rising and oil prices keep dropping, it’s more likely we’ll be drinking fossil fuels.
Reduce

Image 15 of 15:  15 / 15Recently, scientists have been researching other uses of coffee beans. There’s conjecture that coffee beans may replace fossil fuels in motor engines in the coming centuries. If bean prices keep rising and oil prices keep dropping, it’s more likely we’ll be drinking fossil fuels.

Enlarge

1

One legend about coffee’s discovery is that of Kaldi, an Ethiopian herder, who was puzzled by his goats’ wacky antics. In 850 AD, he supposedly sampled the berries of the evergreen bush which his goats were munching and, on experiencing a sense of exhilaration, proclaimed his discovery to the world. So says the Encyclopedia Britannica!

Image 1 of 15One legend about coffee’s discovery is that of Kaldi, an Ethiopian herder, who was puzzled by his goats’ wacky antics. In 850 AD, he supposedly sampled the berries of the evergreen bush which his goats were munching and, on experiencing a sense of exhilaration, proclaimed his discovery to the world. So says the Encyclopedia Britannica!

2

Coffee gained immense popularity in the Middle East at the turn of the first millennium. The drink spread alongside Islam, as worshipers believed it enhanced their religious experience. No coffee trees were grown outside of the Middle East for more than 500 years, only boiled or sterilized beans were exported - until Baba Budan came along.

Image 2 of 15Coffee gained immense popularity in the Middle East at the turn of the first millennium. The drink spread alongside Islam, as worshipers believed it enhanced their religious experience. No coffee trees were grown outside of the Middle East for more than 500 years, only boiled or sterilized beans were exported - until Baba Budan came along.

3

All the world's coffee came from seven seeds that were smuggled out of Arabia by Baba Budan, a 17th century Sufi pilgrim who is believed to have introduced the coffee plant to India, and the wider world. This Indian holy man also worshiped a good cup of coffee, he risked severe punishment for the chance to cultivate his own coffee back home.

Image 3 of 15All the world's coffee came from seven seeds that were smuggled out of Arabia by Baba Budan, a 17th century Sufi pilgrim who is believed to have introduced the coffee plant to India, and the wider world. This Indian holy man also worshiped a good cup of coffee, he risked severe punishment for the chance to cultivate his own coffee back home.

4

Arab traders in 1,000 AD called the drink ‘qahwa’, the Turks called it ‘kahve’.  The beans traveled north to the Netherlands where it was used to brew ‘koffee’, and the British christened it ‘coffee’. But only in ancient Arabia could a woman legally divorce her husband if he didn't provide enough of the brew!

Image 4 of 15Arab traders in 1,000 AD called the drink ‘qahwa’, the Turks called it ‘kahve’. The beans traveled north to the Netherlands where it was used to brew ‘koffee’, and the British christened it ‘coffee’. But only in ancient Arabia could a woman legally divorce her husband if he didn't provide enough of the brew!

5

In Turkey, Greece, and much of the Middle East, ancient coffee is a part of their ancient culture. Today, they welcome their guests with coffee as a heartfelt gesture of hospitality. Visiting those zip codes?  Take a moment to learn their coffee cultures or risk a serious misstep if you refuse an offered cup!

Image 5 of 15In Turkey, Greece, and much of the Middle East, ancient coffee is a part of their ancient culture. Today, they welcome their guests with coffee as a heartfelt gesture of hospitality. Visiting those zip codes? Take a moment to learn their coffee cultures or risk a serious misstep if you refuse an offered cup!

6

More people prefer coffee to sex. Researchers surveyed over 7,000 coffee drinkers, finding that 51% claimed they could go longer without sex than they could go without coffee. An unscientific survey in the Al Bawaba news room bears that research out!

Image 6 of 15More people prefer coffee to sex. Researchers surveyed over 7,000 coffee drinkers, finding that 51% claimed they could go longer without sex than they could go without coffee. An unscientific survey in the Al Bawaba news room bears that research out!

7

Like sex, coffee can kill you, if the amount exceeds the safety limit. The lethal dose of coffee for an adult is calculated at 100 cups of brew. So steep coffee chain prices can be viewed as a public health and safety measure: who could afford 100 cups?

Image 7 of 15Like sex, coffee can kill you, if the amount exceeds the safety limit. The lethal dose of coffee for an adult is calculated at 100 cups of brew. So steep coffee chain prices can be viewed as a public health and safety measure: who could afford 100 cups?

8

In the sixteenth century, Muslim rulers banned coffee due to it’s ‘nervous effects’. Coffee has been banned 3 times in history: in Mecca in the 16th century, by King Charles II in Europe in 1675, and by Frederick the Great in Germany in 1677.  Bet a lot of of people didn't think Fred was so great after that.

Image 8 of 15In the sixteenth century, Muslim rulers banned coffee due to it’s ‘nervous effects’. Coffee has been banned 3 times in history: in Mecca in the 16th century, by King Charles II in Europe in 1675, and by Frederick the Great in Germany in 1677. Bet a lot of of people didn't think Fred was so great after that.

9

It’s crazy how much water is used to support our caffeine habit: as example, one third of North America’s tap water is used to brew coffee. Ironically, the nations with the largest coffee addiction are often the most water-starved on earth. These include Ethiopia, Iraq, Egypt, Jordan and Syria.

Image 9 of 15It’s crazy how much water is used to support our caffeine habit: as example, one third of North America’s tap water is used to brew coffee. Ironically, the nations with the largest coffee addiction are often the most water-starved on earth. These include Ethiopia, Iraq, Egypt, Jordan and Syria.

10

Can the color of the mug influence the taste of your coffee? Researchers say coffee tastes more intense and less sweet when served in a white cup (vs. the same drink in a blue or transparent cup). They concluded that color contrast might explain the results: if coffee is perceived as darker it could make the taste seem stronger.

Image 10 of 15Can the color of the mug influence the taste of your coffee? Researchers say coffee tastes more intense and less sweet when served in a white cup (vs. the same drink in a blue or transparent cup). They concluded that color contrast might explain the results: if coffee is perceived as darker it could make the taste seem stronger.

11

Dark roasted beans contain less caffeine than lighter beans. A company called ‘Death Wish Coffee’ sells the world’s most highly caffeinated organic coffee, made from beans with close to 200% the caffeine as your typical coffee shop coffee. One customer wrote, “'This coffee should be called 'Resurrection.' It's brought my life back to life!'

Image 11 of 15Dark roasted beans contain less caffeine than lighter beans. A company called ‘Death Wish Coffee’ sells the world’s most highly caffeinated organic coffee, made from beans with close to 200% the caffeine as your typical coffee shop coffee. One customer wrote, “"This coffee should be called 'Resurrection.' It's brought my life back to life!"

12

Nescafe, habibi? George Washington may be the ‘father of the United States’, but it was George ‘C.’ Washington who’s the ‘father of instant caffeine gratification’. The English chemist invented instant coffee in Guatemala in 1906. The product was commercially launched in 1909.

Image 12 of 15Nescafe, habibi? George Washington may be the ‘father of the United States’, but it was George ‘C.’ Washington who’s the ‘father of instant caffeine gratification’. The English chemist invented instant coffee in Guatemala in 1906. The product was commercially launched in 1909.

13

Burn some bucks on your beans? Kopi Luwak is the most expensive coffee in the world. The beans are eaten, then excreted by Sumatran wild cats. The end result is supposedly caramel tasting, with the unusually ‘processed’ beans sell at $3,000/Kg.

Image 13 of 15Burn some bucks on your beans? Kopi Luwak is the most expensive coffee in the world. The beans are eaten, then excreted by Sumatran wild cats. The end result is supposedly caramel tasting, with the unusually ‘processed’ beans sell at $3,000/Kg.

14

There’s a new trend where you add grass-fed butter and coconut oil to your brew. ‘Bulletproof’ coffee allegedly ups your energy and increases cognitive function for about six hours, and without the caffeine crash. So pass on the milk and sugar to regulate cholesterol, boost brain cells and strengthen cell walls. Has anyone tried this stuff?

Image 14 of 15There’s a new trend where you add grass-fed butter and coconut oil to your brew. ‘Bulletproof’ coffee allegedly ups your energy and increases cognitive function for about six hours, and without the caffeine crash. So pass on the milk and sugar to regulate cholesterol, boost brain cells and strengthen cell walls. Has anyone tried this stuff?

15

Recently, scientists have been researching other uses of coffee beans. There’s conjecture that coffee beans may replace fossil fuels in motor engines in the coming centuries. If bean prices keep rising and oil prices keep dropping, it’s more likely we’ll be drinking fossil fuels.

Image 15 of 15Recently, scientists have been researching other uses of coffee beans. There’s conjecture that coffee beans may replace fossil fuels in motor engines in the coming centuries. If bean prices keep rising and oil prices keep dropping, it’s more likely we’ll be drinking fossil fuels.

Reduce

Last week, the Brazilian ministry of agriculture reported that 2014's total yield was down 7.7% from 2013, with production of high grade arabica slumping 15%. Effects are spilling over into 2015, and - with coffee drinking rising around the world - this decrease in supply means costs will be percolating.

Luckily for consumers, this comes as international oil prices are plummeting. In Jordan, the government lowered February prices for fuel products by nearly 11% - so what you save on heating your home you can spend on fueling your caffeine habit. In Kuwait, where you shell out more for a liter of water than you do for a liter of heavily subsidized petrol; no doubt that low-fat frappuccino will set you back even more.

Did you know that an Arab goat herder first discovered coffee after his livestock began eating the berries? Or that ancient Africans mixed ground coffee beans with animal fat to make a primitive energy bar? Before rising prices makes coffee a thing of your past, let’s explore some interesting facts about the most popular accidental discovery of human civilization.

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