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A small cup of coffee.JPG

A cup of black coffee

Coffee is a brewed drink prepared from roasted coffee beans, the seeds found inside "berries" of the Coffea plant. Coffee plants are cultivated in over 70 countries, primarily in equatorial Latin America, Southeast Asia, India and Africa. The two most commonly grown are the highly regarded arabica, and the less sophisticated but more hardy robusta. The latter is resistant to the coffee leaf rust (Hemileia vastatrix). Once ripe, coffee beans are picked, processed, and dried. Green (unroasted) coffee beans are one of the most traded agricultural commodities in the world. Once traded, the beans are roasted to varying degrees, depending on the desired flavor, before being ground and brewed to create coffee. Coffee can be prepared and presented in a variety of ways. Coffee is slightly acidic (pH 5.0–5.1) and can have a stimulating effect on humans because of its caffeine content. It is one of the most consumed drinks in the world.

The energizing effect of coffee was likely first discovered in the northeast region of Yemen. Coffee cultivation first took place in southern Arabia; the earliest credible evidence of coffee-drinking appears in the middle of the 15th century in the Sufi shrines of Yemen. In East Africa and Yemen, coffee was used in native religious ceremonies that were in competition with the Christian Church. As a result, the Ethiopian Church banned its secular consumption until the reign of Emperor Menelik II of Ethiopia. The beverage was also banned in Ottoman Turkey during the 17th century for political reasons and was associated with rebellious political activities in Europe. An important export commodity, coffee was the top agricultural export for twelve countries in 2004, and it was the world's seventh-largest legal agricultural export by value in 2005. Some controversy is associated with coffee cultivation and its impact on the environment. Consequently, organic coffee is an expanding market.

Many studies have examined the health effects of coffee, and whether the overall effects of coffee consumption are positive or negative has been widely disputed. The majority of recent research suggests that moderate coffee consumption is benign or mildly beneficial in healthy adults. However, coffee can worsen the symptoms of some conditions, largely due to the caffeine and diterpenes it contains.


Selected article

UTZ Certified is a label and program for sustainable farming of agricultural products launched in 2002, which claims to be the largest program for coffee in the world. It was formerly known as "Utz Kapeh", meaning 'Good Coffee' in the Mayan language Quiché, hence the current 'UTZ certified good inside' logo. On 7 March 2007, the Utz Kapeh Foundation officially changed its name and logo to UTZ Certified. UTZ Certified is a foundation for the worldwide implementation of a standard for responsible coffee, cocoa, tea and rooibos farming and sourcing. UTZ certified cooperatives, estate farms and producer groups comply with the code of Conduct for the respective products. This code is a set of criteria for sustainable and professional coffee growing, which includes socially and environmentally appropriate coffee growing practices, and efficient farm management.

UTZ Certified products are traceable from grower to end product manufacturers (e.g. in coffee this is the roaster); the foundation operates a web-based track-and-trace system, showing the buyers of UTZ certified products links to the certified source(s). Some coffee brands and retailers also provide their customers with this transparency through online coffee tracers. UTZ certified coffee is sold in almost 50 consuming countries, including the Netherlands, Belgium, France, UK, Scandinavia, Switzerland, Japan, USA and Canada. UTZ Certified coffee producers are located in Latin America, Asia and Africa. With an expanding range of programs for agricultural products, like cocoa, tea, rooibos tea and the traceability services for palm oil and cotton UTZ Certified has a presence in a growing number of producing and consuming countries.


Selected picture

Red Catucaí Coffee, a variety of Coffea arabica at various stages of maturation. This image was taken in Matipó City, Minas Gerais State, Brazil.
Credit: Fernando Rebelo

Red Catucaí Coffee, a variety of Coffea arabica at various stages of maturation. This image was taken in Matipó City, Minas Gerais State, Brazil.

Coffee news

News highlights
  • June 15, 2016: "Coffee May Protect Against Cancer, W.H.O. Concludes". The New York Times.
  • June 5, 2013: "Coffee blight in Central America: Changing livelihoods and your cup of joe". The Christian Science Monitor.
  • May 13, 2013: Tea-coffee war brewing, national drink tag at stake. Hindustan Times.
  • April 27, 2013: Don't Call It 'Turkish' Coffee, Unless, Of Course, It Is. NPR.
  • April 27, 2013: $600K For A Cup Of Coffee: Apple's Cook Is A Hit At Auction. NPR.
  • April 26, 2013: Exploring Coffee's Past To Rescue Its Future. NPR.
  • April 26, 2013: Why Caffeine In Coffee Is A Miracle Drug For The Tired. NPR.
  • April 25, 2013: EU Embraces 'Suspended Coffee': Pay It Forward With A Cup Of Joe. NPR.
  • March 18, 2013: Starbucks Buys Its First Coffee Farm. The Wall Street Journal.

  • October 10, 2010: Animal rights activists demand British coffee chain withdraw advertising campaign

Did you know?

...that Kopi tubruk is an Indonesian-style coffee where coarse coffee grounds are boiled along with solid sugar, resulting in a thick drink similar to Turkish coffee?
Other "Did you know" facts...

Selected biography

Portrait of Jerzy Franciszek Kulczycki (Czartoryski Museum)
Jerzy Franciszek Kulczycki (1640 – February 19, 1694), of the Sas coat of arms, was a szlachta (Polish–Lithuanian nobleman), Western Ukrainian nobleman of Orthodox faith, merchant, spy, diplomat and soldier, and considered a hero by the people of Vienna for his actions at the 1683 Battle of Vienna. According to a popular legend, he opened the first café in the city, using coffee beans left by the retreating Ottoman Turks.

Kulczycki opened a coffee house in Vienna at Schlossergassl near the cathedral. It was named the Hof zur Blauen Flasche ('House under the Blue Bottle'). Kulczycki's abilities helped popularize coffee in Austria and with time his café became one of the most popular places in town. Kulczycki always served the mortar-ground coffee wearing a Turkish attire, which added to the place's popularity. Another of his innovations was to serve coffee with milk, a manner that was unknown to the Turks.

He remains a popular folk hero and the patron of all Viennese café owners even though his café closed soon after his death on February 20, 1694. Until recently, every year in October a special Kolschitzky feast was organized by the café owners of Vienna, who decorated their shop windows with Kulczycki's portrait, as noted by Zygmunt Gloger. Kulczycki is memorialized with a statue on Vienna's Kolschitzky street, at the corner of the house Favoritenstraße 64.


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Web resources

  • World Coffee Research – a 501 (c)(5) nonprofit program of the international coffee industry. (Wikipedia article: World Coffee Research)
  • Coffee Research Foundation – based in Kenya, and founded in 1908
  • Central Coffee Research Institute – based in Chickmagalur District, India, and founded in 1915

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