The world’s most popular and versatile drink (besides water)

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Chances are, if you’re over the age of 18, you’ve had coffee. Green, unroasted coffee is the most traded agricultural commodity in the world, and the coffee trade is the most traded second only to petroleum1. Over 2 million cups of coffee are consumed every 5 minutes. Let’s take a look and see how we got to this point.

Types of coffee

  • Green Coffee – Unroasted and unmatured coffee seeds
  • Green Arabica – Used in Italian espresso
  • Coffee Canephora – Contains more than 40% of caffeine than Arabica. Can be cultivated in warmer climates and lower altitudes.

Types of roast

  • Light Roast – Light color. Milder coffee variety. No oil on the outside of the bean.
  • Medium Roasts – Medium brown in color, preferred in America.
  • Medium Dark Roast – Rich, dark color. Bittersweet aftertaste.
  • Dark Roast – Black beans. Pronounced bitterness.

Harvesting methods

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  • Stripping method – Done by hand. Removes all of the cherries and flowers. Produces bad results because of the mixing of good cherries and bad ones.
  • Comb method – Uses a comb to brush trees. Removes all the ripe cherries leaving the unripe ones on the tree. Results in higher quality harvest but not time effective. Plantation owner rarely paid a premium for this premium method.
  • Mechanical method – Vibrating machine attached to the trunk of the tree to shake all the ripe cherries loose.
  • Hand precision – Picking cherries when they are ripe by hand. The most time consuming and thereby expensive method of harvest coffee.

The history of coffee

The origin

The most enduring Origin story for coffee is of a religious disciple named Omar. Exiled to a desert and forced to live on the berries of trees, he found coffee beans. With time on his hands, he developed the best way to cook coffee beans: by boiling them in water. Coffee saved Omar’s life and he was later made a saint for his discovery.

The early years

Coffee enjoyed its first major popularity  in the Muslim countries of Africa and The Middle East. To improve the brewing process, coffee beans were ground  using a pestle and mortar.

Turkish Coffee

Ordinarily, the ground beans would be filtered before brewing, but the Turkish method leaves the beans in the pot. The ground coffee is added to a copper pot and boiled slowly to ensure fuller flavor and thicker coffee. This is one of the oldest and most enduring methods of brewing coffee.

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The filter

The French are credited with being the first to introduce the filter process around 1710. This method involved the use of wider, deeper, pots that attempted to contain the coffee grounds so they wouldn’t enter the cup.

Coffee Machines

As coffee grew in popularity, it also grew in quality. In the early 19th Century, vacuum brewers came to prominence. The brewing system was based on vapor pressure and led to completely smooth coffee.

Next came the percolator where water is heated to a boil and then strained through a filter containing the ground coffee. This is perhaps the most traditionally popular of all methods and is widely used in millions of homes today.

After many years of success, the percolation method was usurped by the electric drip method in the 1970’s. This method passes water through the coffee basket using the thermosiphon principle. While popular at its inception and for many years later, this method has lost some of its popularity in recent years.

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The first cup of espresso coffee is said to have been made by an Italian in 1884. In recent years the espresso machine has been at the heart of a huge coffee boom. Nestle has taken advantage of this craze with their Nespresso shops now a fixture in the world’s prominent shopping districts.

The popularity of coffee drinking shows no signs of slowing down and nor does manufacturers’ desire to come up with the perfect system. One of the most stylish and innovative new methods is that of the AeroPress which uses a rubber plunge similar to a syringe in order to produce the perfect cup.2

The variety of coffee

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Author: T Ross

I spent the first part of my life playing piano and composing music. I graduated from UCLA with a degree in music composition and cognitive science. Then I became a User Interface Engineer for four years. I moved home to Raleigh, NC to be closer to my family and began to freelance. On the side, I created a company called Elemental Nutrition & Wellness that uses interactive resource calculators to give people the tools they need to lose weight and boost nutrition. Now I have my own practice as a holistic nutritionist. I help people meet their weight loss goals by fostering self-motivation. You can reach me at

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