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Monday, 1 October, is International Coffee Day and that makes us very happy – very happy indeed, because any excuse to rejoice and drink extra coffee is always a good thing. It’s the world’s favourite drink and probably the beverage with the most memes – a few of our favourites include: ‘The most dangerous drinking game is seeing how long I can go without coffee’, ‘A day without coffee is like … just kidding, I have no idea’ and ‘Don’t ever let anyone tell you that fairy tales aren’t real. I drink a potion made from magic beans every day, and it brings me back to life.’

So, in celebration of the magic bean, we turned to Fact Retriever for some interesting trivia about this powerful elixir.

  • According to legend, coffee was discovered in the 9th century when an Ethiopian goat herder named Khaldi noticed that his normally lethargic goats were more excitable after they had nibbled the red berries from an evergreen tree. Khaldi took the berries to a Muslim holy man, who turned the raw fruit of the coffee tree into the delicious beverage.
  • Coffee was originally regarded as a wonder drug in Yemen and Arabia and was taken only at the advice of a doctor. Many saw coffee as a brain tonic or as a way to stimulate religious visions.
  • Arabs were the first to cultivate coffee trees on the Arabian Peninsula. Arabs typically roasted and boiled coffee, or qahwa, which is Arabic for “the wine of Islam.”
  • The world’s first coffee house opened in 1475 in Constantinople (modern-day Istanbul).
  • A Belgian named George Washington invented instant coffee in 1906 in Guatemala.
  • Although yields vary from harvest to harvest, a single coffee tree usually provides only enough coffee beans in a year to fill a half-kilo (one-pound) bag of ground coffee.
  • It takes 3 to 4 years for a coffee tree to mature. Once it matures, each tree will bear one to two pounds of coffee beans per growing season.
  • Light roast coffee has more caffeine that dark roast coffee. The longer coffee is roasted, the more caffeine is cooked from the bean.
  • The Turks call their coffee houses “schools for the wise.”
  • Studies show that drinking coffee reduces the risk of Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, heart disease, diabetes mellitus type 2, cirrhosis of the liver, and gout.
  • Besides Americans, the two other largest drinkers of coffee are the French and the Germans. These three countries drink approximately 65% of the total coffee consumed in the world.
  • Coffee contains antioxidants, which helps prevent free radicals from damaging cells. One study found that a typical servicing (approximately 9 oz) of coffee contains more antioxidants than a serving of grape juice, blueberries, raspberries, or oranges.
  • Starbucks opened in Seattle in 1971. In 2010, it boasted revenues of $10.7 billion and 16,850 stores in 40 countries, making it the world’s top coffee retailer. Starbucks offers over 87,000 possible drink combinations.
  • More than 500 billion cups of coffee are consumed each year, making coffee the world’s most popular beverage. It is also the world’s most traded commodity, after crude oil.

Happy International Coffee Day – and in true meme style and particularly appropriate for the 1st ‘may your coffee be strong and your Monday be short’.