Do you think you know all there is to know about one of the world’s most popular and frequently overpriced beverages? I’ve been up for a hundred and eight continuous hours researching coffee just to bring you the following little known facts.
Nine Things You Didn’t Know About Coffee
- No one is entirely sure how coffee was discovered.
According to legend cited by many scholars an Ethiopian farmer discovered coffee when he noticed his goats becoming extremely active after eating beans from the coffee plant (genus Coffea). Some scholars dispute this and cite an alternative legend that the pyramid of Cheops was built by a single man who’d been drinking water from a stream that coffee berries had fallen into. The first scholars are very annoyed by this legend and point out that the berries would have to be heated for enough of the qualities of coffee to enter the water and the second scholars reply that maybe there are undiscovered geothermal spots in Egypt and the whole thing pretty much spins out of control from there.
- Espresso did not originate in Italy.
During a flour shortage caused by the Crimean War a Belgian scientist named Aloysius Beignet was working on an alternative way to make waffles. After failed attempts using mustard, chicken, cabbage, chalk, and bacon he discovered that the combination of high-pressure boiling water and coffee beans produced a potent beverage that would allow him to stay up all night continuing to find ways to make waffles. He would go on to win the Nobel Prize for Beverages just before the award was discontinued.
- There is one country where it’s illegal to drink coffee.
The tiny Pacific island nation of Spelata sits right on the International Dateline. The confusion among locals who find that if they set out from one end of the island on Tuesday arrive at the other end on Monday even though it’s a distance of less than three miles has made accurate time and date-keeping almost impossible. The jitteriness and sleeplessness caused by caffeine consumption have resulted in coffee and, in fact, all caffeinated beverages, being banned from the island. In 2003 a sailor was caught smuggling canned Kona coffee from the neighboring island of Yap and executed.
- I had a college roommate who ate dried instant coffee.
No, really, dude drove me absolutely up the wall when we were studying for midterms. He would lick his finger, stick it in the jar, and then put the dry coffee crystals directly in his mouth.
Instant coffee also contains no real coffee but is made from dried squid ink and a hormone extracted from racehorses. That’s a bonus thing you didn’t know about coffee. You’re welcome.
- Coffee nearly caused a historic church to split.
In 1947 the Brandeburgian Church nearly split in a schism over whether it was acceptable to add milk or cream to coffee during the post-service fellowship period. The problem was eventually resolved by the invention of non-dairy creamer although to this day there are lingering tensions caused by artificial sweeteners.
- Coffee has a rich history in classical music.
J.S. Bach composed the Kaffeekantate, a cantata that literally sings the praises of coffee. The work inspired many other composers, including Mozart, who composed an entire opera, Der Zauber-Wasserdampf. This has led to a legend that Mozart’s death was a murder ordered by a Berlin café guild.
- Drinking more than seven cups of coffee a day will not make you a lot of fun to be around.
Not you, anyway. I’m on my ninth cup now and I’m an absolute riot!
- The first frozen coffee beverage was invented by the ancient Romans.
The emperor Nero was known to be very fond of a coffee gratin created by freezing trays of brewed coffee and honey, scraping the mixture with a fork, and refreezing it. Sometimes milk was added. In 2011 Nero’s descendants successfully sued a well-known coffee chain for copyright violation. The result is the ridiculously high price of a Frappuccino.
- Coffee plants can live more than three million years and grow on the Moon.
You don’t think Americans went there just to beat the Soviets, do you? And the next time you enjoy a cup of café Americano remember how Buzz Aldrin got his nickname. That’s another bonus coffee fact. You’re welcome.