Every morning, 63% of Americans wake up and grab a cup of coffee, whether it be an iced, sugar-free, vanilla latte with soy milk or just a simple cup of black coffee . Coffee is the morning necessity that many can’t seem to get through the day without. Originating in Ethiopian folklore, coffee is such an essential part of so many individuals’ lives in both past and present cultures. But why? To figure this out, let’s spill the beans on the past and present of the coffee industry, how coffee is produced, the sales and distribution of coffee, and the health and wellness impact of coffee.
First, let’s explore the development of the coffee industry throughout the ages. Coffee now grown across the world can be traced back to Ethiopia’s coffee forests in the 11th century. According to a widespread legend, a goat herder, Kaldi, found his goats full of energy and unable to sleep after eating red coffee berries. He shared his discovery with the local abbot, who created a drink using these berries to keep him awake during the many hours of prayer . This abbot advertised this beverage to other abbots across the Arabian peninsula, but they still had yet to discover roasted coffee. The roasted coffee we currently drink originated in Arabia during the 13th century, when Muslims began to dry and boil the beans. By the 15th century, coffee spread from Africa and Arabia to Egypt, Persia, Turkey, and Syria . Public coffee houses in the Near East quickly became part of society, and word of this energizing drink continued to spread across the globe. By the 17th century, coffee spread to England, Austria, France, Germany, and Holland, where people began noticing that their work ethic significantly improved since they started drinking coffee. Coffee first became popular in the United States during the American Revolutionary War, when the switch from hot tea to coffee became highly supported. Finally, coffee spread to the Caribbean, South America, and Central America by boat
The coffee industry has boomed worldwide ever since. The primary production of coffee has spread to over 70 countries, located mostly in the Equatorial zone known as ‘The Bean Belt.’ Columbia and Brazil in South America are the world’s best and biggest coffee producers because of their climate, soil quality, and altitude. Other large countries that produce coffee beans include Africa, Asia, Oceania, Mexico, and Central America. Even countries that aren’t known to be significant coffee producers still contribute a lot to the growing industry by importing coffee beans. This includes England, Germany, Italy, and Belgium . In the United States, there are coffee farms in California, Hawaii, and Puerto Rico. But the U.S mostly imports their coffee, amounting to 30 million 60-kg bags a year . These statistics demonstrate that not only are there many countries actively producing coffee beans, but there is a high demand for coffee beans in the countries that aren’t.
Although most people know how their coffee went from a bean to a beverage in their Keurigs, many don’t understand the entire coffee bean production process. This process begins with harvesting the coffee cherries, which hold the beans. Because coffee berries generally grow in mountainous areas, it is difficult to use mechanical harvesters, so many farms pick ripe coffee cherries by hand. When the land is flat, machinery can be used to strip pick all the cherries off the branch. Then, the coffee cherries are thrown into a water tank, where farmers remove the unripe ones that float to the top. The ripe cherries are dried for up to a month until they are ready to be hulled. The hulling process removes the outer layers surrounding the bean. Some farms use alternative methods, such as pulping the cherries. Finally, all the coffee beans are examined for flaws and graded ..
When most think of coffee beans, they recall the strong aroma and typical brown color. Both of these factors become evident during the roasting process of producing coffee. By varying the roasting conditions, you can achieve the specific flavor you want. Coffee beans are often either baked in rotating drums or roast chambers. After the beans roast, they are cooled to room temperature and packaged for sale. At this stage, farmers ship the beans to stores across the world, including your local supermarket or Starbucks. Although very involved, every step in this coffee production process is essential to delivering high-quality products that meet the worldwide demand for coffee.
The sales and distribution of coffee are also important and have changed over the years. Initially, people consumed coffee for leisure and comfort and drank it like any other regular household beverage. It was not a drink in such high demand until the 1800s when entrepreneurs began seeking ways to make a profit out of coffee’s growing popularity (Avey). Most supermarkets sold bags of coffee beans that you grind yourself and brew using hot water. Then, companies began selling bags of instant coffee beans, which allowed consumers to take pre-ground coffee and add hot water. Another notable advancement in distributing coffee was the recent creation of coffee machines, such as Keurig and Nespresso, that dispense individual cups of high-quality coffee. As many people longed for greater convenience, coffee machines have advanced to Nespresso pods, where we can push one button to brew a cup of coffee. Overall, as the sale and distribution of coffee have advanced, more people have gained access to coffee and can conveniently make it at home. Coffee continues as an everyday necessity for most people because of the little effort they have to put into making it.
Coffee houses have also been a significant part of the sales and distribution of coffee. In the 1900s, larger coffee chains began to spread across the nation, such as Peet’s Coffee, Dunkin’ Donuts, and Starbucks. Starbucks was the first coffee chain to go national in the United States and is currently the largest coffee retailer in the world. As the consumption of coffee transitioned from drinking for fun to drinking for necessity, the sales and distribution grew to meet these new needs. Starbucks is following many of the latest technological trends, such as developing an app so customers can order coffee from their phones, but has also introduced the social aspect of coffee drinking. If you’ve ever visited Manhattan, it might feel like there is either a Starbucks or Dunkin’ Donuts on every corner. New Yorkers drink seven times the amount of coffee than any other U.S. city drinks, demonstrating how vital these coffee shops are to the distribution of coffee in our communities .
Not only does coffee play a massive part in the everyday lives of people across the world, but it also impacts our health and wellness. According to Harvard Medical School, If you consume moderate amounts of caffeine, 3-4 cups a day, you may have a longer lifespan and an 8 to 15% decrease in risk of death . One of the main substances in coffee is caffeine, which occurs naturally in coffee beans. Caffeine acts as a stimulant to the central nervous system of your body, which is why it makes many people feel alert and awake after drinking coffee. It also should be noted that consuming too much caffeine has been linked to many health issues and small side effects, such as cardiovascular disease, bladder cancer, heartburn, conception problems, anxiety, dizziness, stomach aches, and increased blood pressure (Shmerling). Because caffeine gives you energy, it also disrupts many people’s sleeping patterns and gets in the way of the body’s signals telling you to rest. Therefore, you may feel extreme fatigue and mood depression when the effects of caffeine wear off . In general, coffee does not have significant negative impacts on your health as long as you drink it in moderation, further boosting the popularity of this beverage.
Many people across the world have developed quite the infatuation with coffee, consuming a total of 2.25 billion cups daily . Coming from the coffee forests of Ethiopia and slowly spreading across the globe, coffee is a worldwide phenomenon. What begins as a coffee berry eventually ends up in coffee cups around the world. From selling coffee beans and grounds in bags to inventing coffee machines and providing coffee in shops, we have made many developments in the production, sales, and distribution of coffee. As an integral part of our lives, coffee also has many positive and negative health impacts on the body. Next time you grab a cup of coffee, don’t forget its rich history, extensive production process, sales and distribution, and multiple health impacts.