Portal:Coffee

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Introduction

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.

 

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A map showing areas of coffee cultivation:
r:Coffea canephora
m:Coffea canephora and Coffea arabica
a:Coffea arabica
In the economics of coffee, coffee is an important commodity and a popular beverage. Over 2.25 billion cups of coffee are consumed in the world every day. Over 90% of coffee production takes place in developing countries, while consumption happens mainly in the industrialized economies.

Worldwide, 25 million small producers rely on coffee for a living. For instance, in Brazil alone, where almost a third of all the world's coffee is produced, over 5 million people are employed in the cultivation and harvesting of over 3 billion coffee plants; it is a much more labour-intensive culture than alternative cultures of the same regions as sugar cane or cattle, as it is not subject to automation and requires constant attention.

Coffee is also bought and sold as a commodity on the New York Board of Trade. This is where coffee futures contracts are traded, which are a financial asset involving a standardized contract for the future sale or purchase of a unit of coffee at an agreed price. The world's largest transfer point for coffee is the port of Hamburg, Germany.


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Latte art
Credit: Takeaway

An example of latte art

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?

Fazenda Piedade farm. The master house of a coffee plantation farm founded in the 18th century in Paty do Alferes, Rio de Janeiro.
...that Fazendas, meaning "farms", were coffee plantations that spread into the interior of Brazil between 1840 and 1896? They created major export commodities for Brazilian trade, but also led to intensification of slavery in Brazil.
Other "Did you know" facts... Read more...

Selected biography

Washington Coffee New York Times b.PNG
George Constant Louis Washington (May 1871 – March 29, 1946) was an American inventor and businessman of Anglo-Belgian origin. He is best remembered for his invention of an early instant coffee process and for the company he founded to mass-produce it, the G. Washington Coffee Company.

An emigrant from his native Belgium, he arrived in the New York area in 1897 and dabbled in several technical fields before hitting upon instant coffee manufacture during a sojourn in Central America in 1906 or 1907. He began selling his coffee in 1909 and founded a company to manufacture it in 1910. Based in New York and New Jersey, his company prospered and became an important military supplier during World War I. The company's products were also advertised in New York newspapers and on the radio. The success of his company made Washington wealthy, and he lived in a mansion in Brooklyn and then moved to a country estate in New Jersey in 1927. In that same year, he lost a dispute with the tax authorities. Washington was married and had three children.

Washington's company was sold to American Home Products in 1943, shortly before his death. Though the coffee brand was discontinued by 1961, Washington's name is still used today in the product G. Washington's Seasoning & Broth.


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  • 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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