UK Coffee Week: 16 Things You Didn’t Know About Coffee

Did you know it’s UK National Coffee Week, the nation’s biggest celebration of coffee? Organised by the Allegra Foundation, it’s a time when the coffee and food service industry come together in an effort to raise some dosh for Project Waterfall, the charity providing clean drinking water to the poorest coffee-growing countries such as Tanzania in partnership with WaterAid. In celebration of UK Coffee Week, we thought it right to put together a few facts about the stuff you love to drink...

FACT 1. In the beginning, coffee was eaten. African tribes mixed coffee berries with fat, which produced edible energy balls

FACT 2. Did you know the coffee bean is actually a seed inside of a bright red berry?

FACT 3. All coffee in the world grows in the Bean Belt, the area between the Tropics of Cancer and Capricorn. Hawaii is the only state in the US that grows coffee

FACT 4.The Rise of Islam made coffee popular. The religion banned drinking alcohol, but coffee was deemed an acceptable drink

FACT 5. The King of England prohibited coffee houses in 1675, alleging they were places where people met to plot against him. Paranoid or what?!

FACT 6. 70% of the human race glug down mild and aromatic Arabica coffee, while the remaining 30% drinks Robusta, which is more bitter-tasting, but has 50% more caffeine than Arabica

FACT 7. Coffee grows on trees. Literally. Coffee trees can grow up to 30 feet tall, but are cultivated to be around 10 feet (three metres) tall to make picking a breeze

FACT 8. Coffee is the second most traded commodity on earth. Oil is the first. Clearly humanity has a thing for black, drippy liquids

FACT 9. Coffee berries are picked, dried and stripped down until all that’s left is a green bean

FACT 10. Once shipped, the beans are roasted at around 500F. A few minutes after that, the bean will pop once more. The second pop means the bean’s done

FACT 11. George Washington invented instant coffee. That is to say a Belgian man, of the same name living in Guatemala, invented it in 1906

FACT 12. What makes Espresso different from a regular cup of coffee is the way it’s prepared: shooting pressurised, hot water through finely ground coffee

FACT 13. The term “Americano” comes from America GIs during WWII. They would order espresso with water to dilute the strong flavour

FACT 14. American servicemen (GI Jones) were big coffee drinkers. That’s where the term “cup of joe” comes from

FACT 15. In your brain, there’s something called Adenosine. It only wants to pal up with certain receptors. When these two hook up, you get drowsy. When caffeine rolls up, it attaches to the receptors, blocking out Adenosine. Your pituitary gland sees this and thinks there’s an emergency, so it tells the adrenal glands to produce adrenaline. What’s more, caffeine bumps up your dopamine levels. The result? Caffeine high!

FACT 16. Legend has it that Ethiopian shepherds first noticed the effects of caffeine when they saw their goats appearing to become frisky and “dance” after eating coffee berries. And to finish, here's how some of your favourite coffee beverages are created:

Cafe Latte: Foam, tons of milk, espresso.  

Mocha: Whipped cream, milk, chocolate syrup, espresso

Cappuccino: Tons of foam, milk, espresso  

Americano: Water, espresso  

Espresso: for hardcore coffee lovers only – contains espresso and nothing else