Humans have been consuming coffee and experiencing the jolt of caffeine for hundreds of years. We've discussed the benefits of drinking coffee, and in this post, we bring you our top 5 interesting facts about coffee and caffeine.
1. Coffee beans are the seed of the coffee cherry
Coffee grows on small trees or shrubs that can live for up to 100 years or more. The coffee plant produces fruit, the so-called coffee cherry, which is usually red when ripe. Inside the coffee cherry are one or two seeds – these seeds are what we refer to as coffee beans. The coffee beans at this stage are pale green.
From then, the coffee cherries are processed – there are various ways that farmers can process the coffee cherry, but we won’t get into all those details. At the end of the day, processing always involves removing the coffee bean from the coffee cherry and drying the coffee bean.
So, how do we get to brown coffee beans, and even more importantly, black coffee as we know it? Well, the coffee beans are roasted. In the commercial roasting process, the coffee beans undergo temperatures ranging from 200-400 degrees Fahrenheit for about 10 minutes. The longer the coffee is roasted, the darker it gets (more on this later).
2. According to one myth, a goat discovered the coffee bean
According to one myth, there once was a goatherder named Kaldi in Ethiopia in the 8th century. One day, after leaving his goats to graze and calling them to return to go home, the goats wouldn’t return. After searching for the goats and finding them, Kaldi noticed that his goats were unusually excited and energetic. As he watched, the goats chewed berries – or cherries – of a tree that he had never seen before. Kaldi then found the tree and decided to eat the fruit. It was the first time that Kaldi experienced the jolt of eating the coffee cherry. While no one has been able to confirm if this story is true, it’s great to think humanity potentially has the wandering goats to thank for the discovery of coffee. So, next time you crack open one of our cans of nitro cold brew, remember the goats.
3. Dark roasted coffee has more caffeine per pound than light roasted coffee
You’ve been to the supermarket and seen all kinds of coffee. Some coffees are lighter than others. Why’s that? As mentioned above, coffee is roasted. The longer the coffee is roasted, the darker it gets.
Rumor has it that coffee beans lose caffeine the longer they are roasted. But as Scott Rao explains in his book The Coffee Roaster’s Companion, that’s not true. The typical unroasted coffee bean has a chemical composition of 1% caffeine, 12% water, and 87% other compounds. As coffee beans are roasted, the caffeine content is actually unaffected. However, the longer that coffee is roasted, the more moisture (and mass) the coffee bean loses. Therefore, dark roasted coffee has a smaller mass than light roasted coffee, but both light roasted and dark roasted coffee have the same amount of caffeine. As a result, caffeine as a percentage of mass is higher in dark roasted coffee than in lighter roasted coffees. (As an aside: this is great for our customers since we make RISE cold brew coffee varieties with medium-dark roasted beans!)
4. Olympics officials used to limit athletes’ caffeine consumption
Olympic officials limited caffeine use from 1984 to 2003, during which athletes’ drug test samples could not contain more than 12 micrograms of caffeine per milliliter. However, Olympic officials had issues with caffeine drug tests. The issue was that the amount of caffeine that a person consumes that is later passed on to a drug test isn’t consistent from person to person. That is because people process caffeine differently.
Recent research from Haemi Choi, M.D., a sports medicine specialist and a family physician at Loyola University Health System, also shows that small amounts of caffeine – such as what you’d find in one cup of coffee – can benefit athletic performance. Many athletes swear by the benefits of drinking coffee prior to a workout. Because performance-enhancing levels of caffeine are difficult to tell apart from everyday use, the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) moved caffeine off the prohibited substances list. Nevertheless, the WADA continues to monitor athlete’s levels of caffeine in drug tests.
5. The largest iced coffee ever was brewed in South Korea.
According to the Guinness Book of World Records, the largest iced coffee was brewed in July 2014 in South Korea. The iced coffee was inside a cup that measured approximately 11 feet tall by 8.5 feet in diameter. There were more than 3,700 gallons of the iced coffee. That’s the equivalent of more than 71,000 cans of iced coffee!
These Notes on Nitro are brought to you by guest contributor: Carlos Villar