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The Buzz on Coffee

Coffee is one of the world’s most widely traded commodities, one that has affected cultures, economies, and environments across the globe. Check out some fascinating facts about coffee before your visit to theNAT, where Coffee: The World in Your Cup is on view through Sunday, January 5. 


  • The coffee plant was discovered in Ethiopian forests at least 1,000 years ago.
  • The word “coffee” comes from the Turkish word qahwa, for a wine-like drink. “Java” is an Indonesian island where Dutch coffee plantations were located.
  • In 17th-century London, coffeehouses were called “penny universities,” because for the price of a cup of coffee, you could listen for hours to enlightening talk.
  • Caffeine can relieve headaches by constricting the brain’s blood vessels.
  • Plants use caffeine as a natural pesticide to paralyze and kill destructive insects.
  • About 15 billion pounds of coffee are shipped around the world each year.
  • Coffee cultivation is hard work! Pickers are typically paid by the basket-full and an adult picker can harvest over 200 pounds of coffee berries a day.
  • To earn Fair Trade certifications, importers must pay a minimum (around $1.26 per pound) directly to farmer cooperatives, as well as provide access to credit and commit to long-term relationships with individual farmers.
  • Shade-grown coffee is much better for the environment than sun-grown coffee.  More than a half-pound of chemical fertilizers and pesticides are needed for every pound of sun-grown coffee produced.
  • Since the 1960s, when new varieties of sun-tolerant coffee were developed, scientists have noted an alarming decline in migratory birds. Shade-grown coffee provides the forest canopy environment upon which many species of migratory birds rely for survival.



Posted by The Nat.

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