Coffee – A Popular Drink


Coffee is one of the most popular hot drinks in the world. Almost a third of the world’s population drinks coffee. People often meet at cafés or coffee shops for a coffee break during the middle of the morning or stop work in the afternoon to drink coffee.

About 10 million tons of coffee are produced every year. Brazil is, by far, the world’s largest coffee producer. About a third of the world’s production comes from this South American country. Other coffee producing countries include Vietnam, Indonesia and Columbia.

Europeans are the biggest coffee consumers in the world. In Finland, the average person drinks about 4 cups a day, that’s over 12 kg of coffee per year. Norway, Iceland and Denmark are other northern European countries, where drinking coffee is extremely popular. Canada is the only non-European country in the top ten list.

World Coffee Production

The Coffee Plant

Coffee grows as a green-leaved tree or bush with blossoming white flowers. The coffee shrub originally comes from Ethiopia but, in the course of time, spread to Southeast Asia and South America.

There are two basic types of coffee:

  • Arabica accounts for about 70% of the world’s coffee production. It is grown in the higher regions of Central and South America and is popular for its flavor and fragrance.
  • Robusta has spread throughout central and eastern Africa. Although it makes up only thirty per cent of the total coffee production, it has become more important because it can resist diseases better. It also has smaller beans and can grow at lower altitudes than Arabica.

Map of Coffee Production
r = coffee robusta
a = coffee arabica
m = cultivation of both

Image: “Coffee Cultivation by type” by Pixeltoo
is licensed under CC BY 1.0/Public Domain

Coffee plants grow in the warm and moist climate of the tropics and subtropics. Most coffee trees grow best between 1000 and 2500 meters above sea level.

Coffee trees produce fruits called berries. At first they are yellow, and then become red as they mature. An average coffee tree can produce enough berries to make about a pound (half a kilo) of roasted coffee.

Coffee seeds are grown in nursery beds. After a year they are planted in specially prepared fields. It takes a coffee tree about six years to produce a full harvest of coffee berries. The largest ones can get up to six meters tall, but they are normally trimmed to a height of 1.5 to 4 meters.

Berries of a coffee tree
Image: CornellierCC BY-SA 4.0,
via Wikimedia Commons

Harvesting and Processing

Most coffee berries are picked by hand, which makes sure that only the good berries are used. After separating berries from leaves and other waste materials, the beans are then taken out, cleaned and dried. Only the best beans make it to the market. Then they are put into bags and shipped to countries where they are roasted.

At their destination, the beans are combined to make different blends of coffee. Roasting for about 15 minutes brings out the true flavor of the coffee. The roasted coffee beans are packaged; some of them are crushed to ground coffee.

Effects of Coffee

Coffee contains caffeine, a substance that stimulates parts of the body, especially heart and muscles. People often drink coffee to help them stay awake or keep them alert. Although coffee has some negative effects, it is not thought to be a harmful drink. Children and people who have heart problems should not drink coffee in great quantities. In decaffeinated coffee, the caffeine is extracted in a chemical process.

How Coffee is Brewed

Coffee must be ground before it is brewed. Grounding usually takes place inside a coffee machine, but you can also buy ground coffee in shops. The simplest brewing process is pouring boiling water over a filter of ground coffee and letting it flow into a pot. Coffee is often made by using simple machines that force hot water through a pad of pressed coffee. Espresso machines press hot water through ground coffee.

Instant coffee is made by pouring hot water over powdery coffee. It dissolves at once, and you do not need a special machine.

Coffee brewed in an espresso machine
Image: The original uploader was Coffeegeek at English Wikipedia.,
Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

History of Coffee

Coffee originated in the east African highlands in the 6th century. It was then brought to Arabia, where people used it as food and medicine. During the 11th century, the first coffee drinks came up. In the 16th and 17th centuries coffee became widely popular in Europe when the Turks brought it to Central Europe. In the 17th and 18th century, coffee conquered North and South America.

Coffee houses soon became popular all over the world. In the 1900s, chains of coffee shops emerged in Europe and America. Today, Starbucks is the largest coffee house chain in the world, with over 20,000 stores in 60 countries.

Types of Coffee

Coffee can be brewed in different ways.

Espresso is probably the most popular coffee drink in the world. It is made by forcing hot water through a pad filled with dark ground coffee. Although there is not much coffee in the cup an espresso is very strong. It is usually drunk black, with no milk added.


Image : Nonami2 at German Wikipedia, Public domain,
via Wikimedia Commons

Americano is an espresso with hot water added to make it weaker.

Café Latte is an espresso with a lot of hot milk and foam added on the top.

Café Latte
Image: Maksym KozlenkoCC BY-SA 4.0,
via Wikimedia Commons

Cappuccino is a cup of espresso, together with warm milk and a lot of milk foam at the top. In some coffee shops it is decorated with flaked chocolate or cocoa.


Image : Chris BrownCC BY 2.0,
via Wikimedia Commons

Cafe Mocha is a cappuccino with chocolate or cocoa added.

Frappe is a cold espresso that you can get at some coffee shops during the hot summer months.

Turkish coffee is usually thicker than normal coffee. It is made by combining ground coffee and water to a muddy mixture.

Turkish Coffee

Image : EaeeaeCC BY-SA 3.0,
via Wikimedia Commons



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