What is Coffee? Benefits, Culture, History, Shops, Terms
Coffee is a drink composed of grounded beans from the Coffea plant. Traditionally, coffee is a hot drink, although modern-day versions also serve it in an iced variety.
There are over 6,000 species of Coffea plants, varying in size and flavor. Nevertheless, only two varieties—arabica and robusta—are most common in the mainstream coffee market.
Coffee grows best in hilly, tropical climates. Some plants can grow over 30 feet tall, although coffee farmers typically prune their coffee plants for ease of harvesting. The quality of soil impacts its final flavor, along with how long the coffee beans undergo roasting and the process used to grind and brew them.
For the many coffee varieties in the world, one thing is consistent—it's an integral part of many cultures. Coffee drinking encourages social gatherings and is the driving force behind the popularity of cafes.
If you want to learn more about the delicious drink you consume every day, go ahead and make yourself a cup of coffee. Once you've got your cup of joe in hand, settle in for this detailed read on everything you could want to know on coffee.
Table of Contents
- History of Coffee
- Health Benefits of Coffee
- Coffee Culture
- Types of Coffee Beans
- Types of Coffee Drinks
- Coffee Utensils
- Important Coffee Terms to Know
History of Coffee
Coffee has a long history, although no one has been able to pinpoint when the first cup of coffee entered the world. Nevertheless, there are plenty of theories out there.
As one legend has it, an Ethiopian goat herder realized his goats had an unusual amount of energy after eating coffee berries. After sharing this information with an abbot, the abbot made a drink from the berries and commented that it helped him stay up for evening prayer. Before long, the concept of coffee spread around the globe.
Regardless of whether or not you believe this legend, this much is true—coffee's early use is from Africa and the Arabian Peninsula. However, it wasn't until 1645 when Pope Clement VIII helped coffee become an accepted drink by Europeans. Up to that point, Christians considered drinking coffee an Islamic practice. But the Pope declared that wasn't correct; coffee was a Christian drink too, he said.
In the beginning, coffee didn't gain popularity in North America as quickly as it had in Europe—North Americans preferred alcohol. However, the Revolutionary War required stamina. Before long, coffee increased in popularity so much that rations became limited, and coffee vendors hiked up their prices.
Nowadays, Brazil is the largest coffee producer globally, but it wasn't until 1727 when coffee plants arrived there. By the early 1850s, Brazil's coffee exports had skyrocketed to around 70% of the global coffee supply.
As the demand for coffee increased, coffee plantations popped up around Central America. Unfortunately, the need for more land forced indigenous populations from their homes, which resulted in protests and coups.
Today, more than 100 million people in low-income countries rely on coffee farming to make a living. Africa and Central American countries continue to lead the way with the greatest amount of coffee exports.
Coffee comes from the bean of coffee plants and is part of the Rubiaceae family. The coffee we all know and love typically comes from either the Coffea arabica (arabica for short) or Coffea canephora (robusta for short) plants.
Coffee is a woody evergreen shrub that can grow up to fifteen feet tall. However, the shrub often stays shorter since pruning is common to improve production and make the coffee beans easier to harvest. Coffee leaves are large, growing up to six inches long. They have a glossy coating, and the leaves' petioles attach at the base.
There's no mistaking when coffee plants are in bloom—their white flowers have a powerful aroma and bloom all at the same time. Once the flowers drop, oval-shaped berries replace them, growing up to 0.6 inches. They start green and then change to yellow and crimson. During the drying process, the berries change from crimson to black.
Arabica and robusta berries vary significantly in how long it takes them to ripen; it takes arabica berries 6 to 8 months to mature, whereas Robusta berries require 9 to 11 months before ripening. Most berries have two seeds, but up to 10% are peaberries, meaning they only carry one seed.
The two coffee varieties also vary in how they reproduce. The arabica plant self-pollinates and produces a seed that mirrors that of its parents. For this reason, it's uncommon for arabica seedlings to vary in size. In contrast, robusta plants pollinate via outcrossing, which happens through cuttings and grafting, among other forms of vegetative propagation. By utilizing this reproduction method, it's easier for scientists to test out new coffee varieties.
Arabica coffee is the most beloved of the two coffee varieties since it has a richer flavor and is less bitter than robusta. As a result, approximately 75% of the coffee grown throughout the world is arabica. Regardless, robusta has its place in the world. It contains up to 50% more caffeine than arabica and has a foamier texture. For this reason, it's a popular choice for making espresso.
Traditionally, coffee grows in the East African highlands where the elevation is high, and rain is frequent. An elevation of 2,000 to 4,000 feet produces the tastiest—and most expensive—coffee. That said, many countries between the tropics of Cancer and Capricorn try their hand at growing it.
The most popular countries for cultivating coffee include Latin America and eastern Africa for Arabica beans and central Africa, southeast Asia, and Brazil for robusta coffee. Since the environment in which coffee grows impacts its flavor, acidity, and aroma, coffee experts label according to the region in which it grew.
Robusta plants are hardier than Arabica; it's possible to cultivate them in warmer environments at altitudes below 2,000 feet. In fact, robusta's history traces back to the Lomani River in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Have you ever wondered where the word Java originated? In 1900, coffee traders transferred the Robusta coffee plants to Java, Indonesia, where they began a breeding program. From there, they exported it across the world. While robusta thrived, it carried what's called coffee leaf rust, a fungal disease that's devastating to arabica coffee plants. Nowadays, the colored spots that are a signature of coffee leaf rust occur worldwide.
While coffee leaf rust is a global threat to coffee plants, it isn't the only issue they face. Funguses such as Mycena citricolor cause leaves to drop from coffee plants. Furthermore, an incredible 900+ insect species cause problems for coffee farmers. From beetles to mites and snails, coffee plants are susceptible to attacks from all angles. Coffee berries attract birds and small rodents, too. However, their impact is minimal compared to insects.
Of the many insects that threaten coffee, farmers agree that the coffee borer beetle is the most destructive. These 2 mm insects live around the globe and can demolish more than 50% of a coffee plantation. The female coffee borer beetle is to blame—she lays her eggs in coffee berries, where the larvae destroy the coffee beans as they mature.
In the past, traditional coffee farming worked in sync with its environment. Farmers used to grow coffee beneath the shade of surrounding trees and shrubs. However, in the 1970s, farmers began favoring an open cultivation method where the berries grew under the sun.
The benefit of an open cultivation plan is that the coffee berries ripen quicker. However, such practices led to devastating effects on the environment since it requires the clearing of thousands of acres of trees. That has led to erosion, water degradation, and habitat destruction. According to the World Wildlife Fund, 37 of the 50 countries with the most deforestation produce coffee.
The use of fertilizers has also exploded in an effort to combat the many insects and fungus that attack coffee plants. However, it's not all bad news—in Costa Rica, using insect loving birds has helped reduce the number of coffee berry borers by around fifty percent.
Several organizations, such as the Rainforest Alliance and Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center, are promoting organic coffee to mitigate deforestation's negative impact. They're also encouraging farmers to return to shade growing methods.
In addition to the adverse ecological effects of coffee via fertilizers and deforestation, water consumption is another issue. For every one cup of coffee, it took approximately 37 gallons of water to produce it. For this reason, big coffee growing countries such as Ethiopia are undergoing a water shortage crisis.
Of the water that remains, another issue facing communities where coffee grows is water contamination. It's common for coffee plants to release contaminated water into nearby rivers, killing the plants and animals in it.
If you've ever had the opportunity to see a coffee plant, you know that the berries, aka coffee cherry, don't resemble anything like the beans we recognize at our local coffee shop. That's because coffee berries go through a multi-step process before getting to that stage.
Traditionally, coffee production begins with handpicking the coffee berries. The reason this is an ideal method is that coffee berries ripen at different times. However, time is money. For this reason, nowadays, most farmers use a strip picked approach. Strip picking involves a machine that takes all of the berries at once, regardless of their ripening stage. From there, the coffee berries undergo one of two methods: the dry process or wet process.
Most coffee farmers choose the wet process even though it produces a milder coffee. With this process, the berries undergo sorting based on how ripe they are. A machine removes the berry's flesh, and then they ferment the seeds. Fermentation is a necessary process since the berries contain a slimy residue. Finally, they douse the seeds in water before drying them.
Alternatively, the drying method involves spreading the coffee beans on drying tables. That way, air can more evenly dry the beans. Additionally, farmers mix the coffee by hand, which prevents fermentation. The drying method is a common practice in Africa. Although it still isn't as popular, coffee farmers are beginning to recognize the attraction since it produces a more robust flavored coffee.
While these are the two methods to produce commercial coffee, some countries make artisan coffee with some unusual—and expensive—twists. For example, in Asia, they feed coffee beans to an animal called the Asian palm civet, harvesting the beans from the civet's feces. Inside the animal's stomach, the coffee beans encounter digestive enzymes, giving what brave coffee drinkers describe as coffee with a chocolate flavor.
Regardless of the method used, the coffee beans up to this point are green and must take a trip to the coffee roasters.
In almost all cases, when you purchase a bag of coffee beans, those beans are roasted. Like geography and soil impact the taste of coffee, so does the roasting method used. During roasting, coffee beans expand, shedding water and losing weight as they acquire more air. As a result, coffee beans decrease in density, although the exact density impacts the bean's strength, and therefore the type of packaging it requires.
Once the coffee beans reach 392 °F, the roasting process officially commences. As the heat begins to break down the beans' starches, caramelization starts to occur. That produces the brown color and turns coffee beans into a state we all recognize.
Roasting beans involves changing the aroma of the coffee itself. The heat weakens acids and oils in the green coffee beans, replacing them with new oils. In particular, an oil called caffeoyl emerges and is the primary oil that gives coffee its familiar smell and flavor.
Once the roasting temperature reaches more than 455 °F, caffeine will start to break down. At this point, the coffee beans change from light roasting to dark roasting.
You've likely heard of coffee having different roasting grades. To grade roasted beans, a light meter studies the coffee beans' color. It then determines if the beans will receive a label ranging from light roast, to a medium roast, to a very dark roast.
The boldness of coffee is directly related to the type of roast; the darker a roast, the bolder the coffee flavor. Coffee boldness is a result of more fiber having broken down and a sugary taste. On the other hand, light coffee roasts contain more oils and acids, offering a more complex flavor.
Although roasting doesn't change the caffeine content, the longer a coffee bean roasts, the more it expands. Therefore, by volume, darker roasts have less caffeine than lighter roasts. Decaffeinated coffee originates from green beans by using heat to extract the caffeine.
Health Benefits of Coffee
You've undoubtedly heard about many health studies performed on coffee—some tout its health benefits while others warn against the looming dangers of consuming it. Despite ever-evolving science, this much is true: there are proven benefits to consuming up to a few cups of coffee per day. There are downsides, too, for certain populations.
Let's cover the health benefits of coffee, its nutrition, and when certain people should avoid consuming it.
When people think of coffee, caffeine is usually the first ingredient that comes to mind. Depending on who you talk to, caffeine has a good or bad reputation. However, few people realize that coffee has a good source of antioxidants. Antioxidants protect you from cancer and other diseases since they block free radicals from forming in your body.
Researchers have run countless studies on coffee, and the conclusion is clear: your cup of joe has health benefits, like reducing your risk of heart failure. Below are the most significant highlights from a study performed at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.
Coffee prevents early death from heart disease, diabetes, and stroke. The study found that women, in particular, received the biggest disease-fighting benefit compared to men. Other research agrees that coffee can improve a person's lifespan, citing that drinking two to four cups per day reduces the risk of various diseases.
Improved Glucose Processing
Coffee drinkers have a lower chance of getting type 2 diabetes since it's believed that coffee can improve how glucose processes in the body. Of course, dumping sugar into your coffee will likely counteract any benefits of this glucose benefit.
It's believed that Parkinson's disease and people who have trouble controlling their movements may benefit by drinking coffee. In fact, the study shows that coffee drinkers have less of a chance of developing Parkinson's disease than non-coffee drinkers.
If too many late nights out on the town have you worried about the condition of your liver, coffee can help. Scientists discovered that frequent coffee drinkers—regular and decaf drinkers alike—have healthier enzyme levels in their liver.
It may sound like a big claim, but the research is in: coffee can help repair damaged DNA strands, preventing diseases such as cancer. There's a catch, though—dark roast coffee is the only roast variety that appears to offer this benefit.
Decreases Colon Cancer Risk
According to John Hopkins' study, 26% fewer coffee-drinking women get colon cancer than non-coffee drinking women. Other studies show that drinking six cups of coffee per day lessened the risk of different cancer types. As the saying goes, though, too much of a good thing can be a bad thing. Drinking excessive amounts of coffee has risks, which we'll cover shortly.
Study after study has shown a strong link between drinking coffee and memory improvement. It's believed that two cups worth of caffeinated coffee reduces the risk of dementia and Alzheimer's disease.
Health professionals have varying opinions on how much coffee you should drink to receive its benefits. Generally speaking, it's believed that drinking three to four cups of coffee per day is a safe amount.
That said, the impact of coffee on reducing hypertension requires drinking excessive amounts of coffee, according to many studies. People who consume seven cups per day have a 9% lower risk of developing hypertension.
However, drinking as little as three cups of coffee over the long term can reduce the chances of experiencing hypertension. It's believed that anyone who drinks less than three cups of coffee per day does not receive any anti-hypertension benefits.
The effect of coffee on mental health is still up for debate. Shorter-term research indicates that coffee can help reduce depression. However, the National Health Service in the United Kingdom believes that eliminating coffee from one's diet could decrease anxiety. In either case, longer-term studies will shed more light on the benefits—or lack thereof—of coffee on mental health.
There's more to coffee than caffeine, but since that's the ingredient that tends to interest people the most, let's begin there. Any given cup of coffee ranges in how much caffeine it contains since it depends on the type of roast and how you brew it.
As a general rule, an 8-ounce cup of coffee brewed from coffee grounds has approximately 95 milligrams of caffeine. On the other hand, a mere 25 milliliters of espresso contains about 53 milligrams of caffeine.
You already know that the darker the roast, the less caffeine coffee beans have per gram since the beans expand during the heating process. However, the caffeine content in different coffee roasts doesn't necessarily translate to your cup of coffee. Why is that, you ask? It comes down to the brewing method used.
Machines such as the French press take out more caffeine from dark roasted coffee beans. On the other hand, they've designed espresso machines to extract caffeine from lightly roasted coffee beans. For this reason, if you want to maximize the amount of caffeine you get in your cup of coffee, it's important to pair the coffee bean roast with the appropriate coffee machine.
Now, let's take a closer look at coffee nutrition aside from caffeine. Some of the most significant components in coffee include:
- Riboflavin: Breaks down fat, protein, and carbohydrates in the body to produce energy.
- Pantothenic Acid: Aids fatty acid metabolism.
- Manganese and Potassium: Improves metabolism and regulates blood sugar.
- Magnesium and Niacin: Lowers cholesterol and prevents heart disease.
These micronutrients can add up to substantial quantities if you drink a few mugs of coffee per day. Coffee contains traces of sodium, so people on low-sodium diets won't have to worry about reducing their coffee intake.
That said, the type of water you use can have small impacts on the micronutrients in your cup of coffee. For instance, soft and hard water tends to vary in the amount of calcium and magnesium they contain.
Coffee doesn't contain any substantial macronutrients such as fat, carbohydrate, and protein. Assuming you don't drink your coffee with milk or sugar, an 8-ounce cup of coffee contains a mere two calories. That makes it an excellent option for people on a diet, but the Mayo Clinic warns that coffee isn't likely going to have you shedding pounds.
Although some people tout caffeine as a shortcut for weight loss, with many weight loss pills containing it, there isn't concrete evidence that coffee supports weight loss. However, there are some theories that coffee can help with appetite suppression and small amounts of calorie-burning since caffeine makes you use up more energy even when you're resting.
Nevertheless, the impact is likely too minimal to make a significant difference in supporting your weight loss goals.
With almost 100% of coffee containing water, coffee is considered a hydrating drink. However, a side effect of caffeine includes frequent urination. So, it's best to supplement your coffee consumption with plenty of water.
Coffee also contains antioxidants, which help to repair damaged cells in your body. Aside from coffee, good sources of antioxidants include green tea, dark chocolate, and berries. However, numerous studies show that coffee is the number one source of antioxidants in a Westerner's diet since they don't have a big tea culture.
Antioxidants come in various forms. Examples you'll likely recognize includes:
Vitamin C: A water-soluble vitamin that produces collagen, aids protein metabolism and wound healing.
Vitamin E: A fat-soluble vitamin that prevents reactive oxygen production in the body, thus reducing free-radical production.
Flavonoids: A phytonutrient found in nearly all plants that offer anti-inflammatory and immune system benefits.
It'll come as no surprise to you that studies show there are risks with drinking coffee. However, the good news is that if you're a healthy adult, drinking a few cups of coffee per day will likely offer you more benefits than harm. Nevertheless, some people experience side effects from coffee, especially if they're new to drinking it or if they consume a greater quantity of coffee than usual.
Side effects of caffeinated coffee include:
- Increased or irregular heart rate
- Ringing in the ears
These symptoms are classic signs of a caffeine overload. If you're experiencing any of them, reduce the amount of coffee you consume. Depending on how long you've been drinking coffee, you might go through a withdrawal period. However, if you stick with it, you should start to feel better soon.
Caffeine is a powerful substance in coffee that encourages the consumption of approximately two billion cups of coffee each day. However, over time the body can become accustomed to caffeine's impact, making it necessary for people to consume more coffee to receive the same stimulant benefits that they used to receive from less coffee.
Below are some situations in which people should avoid coffee as a result of caffeine.
Pregnancy and Breastfeeding Women
Generally speaking, doctors agree that it's safe for pregnant women to drink small amounts of coffee, being careful that it doesn't exceed 300 mg of caffeine. The reason being is that there's the possibility of caffeine cutting through the placenta and entering the baby's bloodstream. Since babies can't break down caffeine, it'll stay in their circulation.
Similarly, medical professionals typically say it's okay for women to drink coffee in moderation while breastfeeding. Similar reasoning applies during pregnancy since caffeine can enter the mother's milk.
You've likely heard someone say that coffee will stunt a child's growth. That's a myth since how high a child grows corresponds with genes and good nutrition. However, it's discouraged for children under the age of twelve to consume caffeine. It's considered safe for children between 12 and 18 years old to consume up to 100 mg of caffeine per day. That's equivalent to approximately 8 ounces (one cup) of coffee.
Caffeine takes calcium out of the body via urination. Since calcium is critical for strong bones, drinking excessive amounts of caffeine over time can cause your bones to weaken and lead to osteoporosis. You can help counteract this impact by taking calcium supplements. However, it's best to keep your caffeine consumption to under 300 mg per day if you're concerned about osteoporosis.
Unfiltered coffee can increase the amount of cholesterol and fat in your bloodstream. For this reason, people with heart disease should always drink filtered coffee. Some studies suggest that drinking coffee of any kind can increase the risk of heart disease for people with preexisting conditions. However, this is still mostly a theory.
People with diabetes will likely roll their eyes at what researchers say about coffee's caffeine and how it affects sugar levels. Of the many studies run, most scientists believe that caffeine changes the way diabetics process sugar. However, a handful of those studies found that caffeine increases blood sugar, while others found that it decreases blood sugar.
The bottom line? If you have diabetes, make sure to check your blood sugar regularly and watch how drinking coffee impacts your blood sugar levels, if any.
Caffeine is good for constipation and terrible for diarrhea. Therefore, if you're experiencing diarrhea, you should stop consuming coffee until it passes.
Glaucoma is the result of too much pressure on the eye and can lead to blindness. Since caffeine increases pressure on the eye for up to 90 minutes after drinking coffee, people with glaucoma should only consume decaf coffee.
As a final note, since coffee contains some natural oils, you might find that your cholesterol increases if you drink unfiltered coffee frequently. High cholesterol can lead to heart disease, although if you use coffee filters, the heart-healthy benefits from coffee outweigh the effects of cholesterol.
Coffee is a global drink beloved by consumers for centuries. The way people consume and perceive coffee around the world varies, but with the help of international coffee cafes like Starbucks, modern-day coffee culture is becoming more standardized.
Coffee competitions are also becoming a widespread cultural phenomenon. World Coffee Events hosts an annual coffee competition that changes locations every year. In Australia, people worldwide flock to Melbourne to participate in the World Brewers Cup Championship.
We'll cover more about coffee culture now, including the development of coffeehouses, coffee breaks, the amount of coffee consumed per country, prohibition, and Fair Trade.
Coffeehouses, which are termed "cafés" in modern-day terminology, have a long history, dating back to 1475 Constantinople, where the first coffeehouse opened. It was a hit, and coffeehouses exploded across the Ottoman Empire.
It wasn't until the 17th century when coffeehouses arrived in Europe. In England alone, more than 3,000 coffeehouses became integrated into English towns by the year 1675. Over in the United States, Boston received the first coffeehouse in 1676.
New technology changed the landscape of coffeehouses over the years. In 1938, the espresso machine made its debut in Milan, Italy. In 1952, the world's first espresso bar opened in Soho, London. Four years later, London had over 400 espresso bars. The espresso bar trend picked up in the United States around this time, beginning in San Francisco.
Since then, California made impressive strides in coffeehouse culture. In 1966, Peet's Coffee & Tea opened their first café in Berkeley. Dutch founder Alfred Peet prided himself on using higher quality coffee beans than other coffeehouses. He went on to become Starbucks' supplier.
It may come as a surprise to many that the first Starbucks café opened in 1971. Run by three founders, all of whom were college students, the Seattle location performed well enough where they were able to open up two more stores over the following two years. Eventually, Howard Schultz purchased the company with the goal of selling premade espresso coffee. Needless to say, it was a hit. Starbucks now operates over 25,000 coffee shops in more than 75 countries.
Even though many credit Starbucks, an American coffee chain, for making modern-day cafes trendy, South Korea has the largest concentration of coffee shops in the world, with over 10,000 stores.
With the demand for coffee shops around the globe, working at a café has become a viable career for many people. People who make coffee beverages enjoy the modern-day title of "barista." With the support of the Specialty Coffee Association of America and Europe, baristas receive outstanding training and learn valuable career-oriented skills.
Although the first thing people tend to do when they wake up is head to their coffee pot, early mornings aren't the only time for coffee. In the United States, coffee breaks are both trendy and accepted in work culture. Coffee breaks refer to a mid-morning rest.
Whereas tea breaks have a long history in European culture, the concept of coffee breaks made its way into American culture in 19th century Wisconsin. Perhaps unsurprisingly, Norwegian immigrants began the tradition. To this day, the annual Stoughton Coffee Break Festival takes place in Wisconsin to celebrate the coffee break.
Since then, coffee breaks became an integral part of government meetings—they even wrote it into union contracts during the war. In the early 1950s, a coffee ad campaign exploded with the slogan, "Give yourself a Coffee-Break." It may come as little surprise that a psychologist who ended up working with Maxwell House founded that phrase.
Depending on the business, a coffee break may involve a pause in a meeting to grab some coffee and chat about non-related work topics, or it might be something people do on their own when it's conducive to their schedule. Certain civil service jobs have a set time for a coffee break. Additionally, some business people schedule coffee breaks outside of the workplace when they want to meet with customers or contractors.
A coffee break could be as short as a few minutes to pour a cup of joe, but most commonly, they last 10 to 20 minutes. It's most common for coffee breaks to occur in the first third of a work shift, although it's acceptable for them to happen later as well.
Many businesses offer their employees free coffee with a pot available all day; it's completely acceptable for anyone to get up and take a short coffee break whenever they want. Some companies also set pastries or other goodies by the coffee pot.
Words evolve over time, and the term "coffee break" is no different. Although coffee break still can mean its literal definition, it's now widely accepted that it can refer to any break from work, regardless if you drink coffee during that time.
Coffee is a staple drink globally, but many people are surprised to learn that Scandinavian countries consume the most amount of coffee per year. When you consider its cold weather and short hours in the winter, though, it makes sense.
Using data from World Population Review, we'll start by covering the top ten countries that consume the most amount of coffee per person. We'll then look at the same numbers by country consumption.
Top 10 Coffee Consumption Countries Per Person
- Finland: 26 pounds of coffee per person.
- Norway: 22 pounds of coffee per person.
- Iceland: 20 pounds of coffee per person.
- Denmark: 19 pounds of coffee per person.
- Netherlands: 19 pounds of coffee per person.
- Sweden: 18 pounds of coffee per person.
- Switzerland: 17 pounds of coffee per person.
- Belgium: 15 pounds of coffee per person.
- Luxembourg: 14 pounds of coffee per person.
- Canada: 14 pounds of coffee per person.
To put these numbers in perspective, 26 pounds of coffee per person per year equates to approximately four cups of coffee per day. Here's a fun fact: it's the law in Finland for employers to offer their employees two 10-minute coffee breaks during the workday.
Canada's presence on this list is impressive, given that the other countries are European. According to World Population Review, Tim Hortons gets the credit for this; it makes 75% of coffee sold in Canada.
The United States comes in at number twenty-five in the world for coffee consumption on a per-person basis. Americans consume approximately 9.7 pounds of coffee per person per year.
When it comes to the amount of coffee consumed per country, taking all its population into account, the numbers are less surprising: countries with large populations tend to have the highest numbers of coffee consumers. Let's take a look at the top ten.
Top 10 Coffee Consumption Countries by Total Population
- United States
World Population Review indicates that Vatican City is the smallest coffee consumer by population. It makes sense, given that Vatican City is the smallest country in the world.
Throughout history, religion is the base for coffee prohibition. Traditionally, coffee held spiritual meaning in Muslim culture since they used it during religious ceremonies. During a meeting in Mecca in 1511, scholars and jurists deemed coffee as a forbidden drink. They believed that it had intoxicating properties like alcohol—a concept that many people debated and doubted.
Thirty years passed before Muslim leaders lifted the coffee ban, although prohibition didn't end there. In the 1600s, the Sufis declared that coffee was a heretical substance, and they succeeded in repressing coffee production and consumption for a short time. For seventeen years up until 1640, Sultan Murad IV also prohibited coffee from being consumed in Ottoman Turkey.
Since coffee had early origins in Muslim culture, Ethiopian Orthodox Christians banned its followers from consuming it. The coffee prohibition lasted until 1889. Since then, Ethiopia has experienced great strides with its perception of coffee; it's now the Ethiopian national drink with people from all religions consuming it.
Have you ever thought of coffee as poisonous? If you lived in France in the 1600s, you might have. A group of French doctors began this claim. For anyone who has experienced modern-day French coffee culture, it goes without saying that this old belief no longer applies.
The Jewish religion also had its qualms about coffee. Concern over coffee being a legume meant that its followers couldn't consume coffee during Passover. However, with pushing from Maxwell House, in 1923, a rabbi declared that coffee is a berry, not a seed, and is okay to eat as a kosher food during Passover.
Although most coffee prohibition occurred hundreds of years ago, some modern-day religions continue to ban it. For example, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints views coffee as detrimental for physical and spiritual health. In fact, Mormons believe that all hot drinks are bad for the stomach, so they ban their followers from drinking both coffee and tea.
Additionally, the Seventh-day Adventist Church claims that their followers shouldn't consume coffee, tea, and any other substances containing caffeine. As a result of this, researchers love working with Mormons and Adventists since it gives them a sample group of people who don't consume caffeine.
Despite coffee's global demand and the exorbitant price for certain coffee varieties, coffee farmers in developing countries tend to receive meager compensation for their products. For this reason, the Max Havelaar Foundation created the concept of Fair Trade. T
he idea behind Fair Trade is that it helps coffee farmers establish beneficial relationships with exporters, ensuring they receive fair compensation. Fair Trade also does the following:
- Supports responsible companies
- Empowers coffee farmers
- Promotes environmental sustainability
- Ensures equality regardless of gender, religion, etc.
Fair Trade employees work on the ground with coffee farmers, acting as liaisons between them and exporters. They also ensure that workers have safe working conditions and that the product passes health standards. Whenever a Fair Trade product sells, the importer pays an extra amount above the purchase price, which goes to the farmer's community. A committee run by locals then chooses what community development projects they want to use the money for.
According to Fair Trade USA, they're currently working with almost one million farmers across 45 countries. Since 1998, farmers and other workers across various sectors have received $740 million in exchange for their products. In the United States alone, over 60% of the population recognizes the Fair Trade seal—that's almost double what the statistics looked like in 2008.
Although Fair Trade had its start in the late 1980s, it wasn't until the 2000s when the concept started to get traction with coffee suppliers. In 2000, Starbucks began carrying Fair Trade coffee in its stores. By the end of 2009, all espresso drinks at Starbucks in the United Kingdom and Ireland were strictly Fair Trade and Shared Planet certified.
Studies show that consumers love the concept of Fair Trade; a Belgian study found that 46% of participants said they'd be okay with paying more for Fair Trade products. However, that same study found that most of those same people chose the non-Fair Trade product when picking between paying a 27% premium for Fair Trade coffee.
Other studies indicate that Fair Trade coffee products don't have an entirely positive impact on a coffee dependent village. The reason is that farmers who don't join Fair Trade say that they have less bargaining power with exporters.
Types of Coffee Beans
You may be surprised to learn that coffee "beans" are actually fruit seeds that sit inside berries. Although arabica and robusta are the most common types of coffee beans, dozens of bean varieties can produce coffee. Let's take a look at some of these, listed in alphabetical order.
The prized arabica bean is beloved for its flavorful, acidic taste. In fact, scientists believe arabica was the first type of coffee bean ever used. Originating in Ethiopia, arabica beans make up approximately 60% of coffee consumption today. Some coffee brands even mix arabica coffee with its competitor, the robust bean, to balance out robusta's flavor.
The arabica coffee plant grows best at a higher altitude and can withstand cold weather, but not frost. It prefers tropical climates, making Latin America and Africa some of the biggest Arabica producers, with Brazil being the largest arabica producer in the world.
When grown and roasted in optimal conditions, Arabica beans produce a mildly sweet flavor. You will likely be able to notice hits of chocolate, nuts, or caramel. In some cases, Arabic beans taste fruity. Like all coffee, it's important to store coffee beans in an airtight container in a cool, dry place to maintain their flavor.
Arabica contains acidity, which is a feature that attracts coffee drinkers. It also has some bitterness. If you cold brew arabica beans, it'll help amplify the sweeter flavor of this coffee species.
Arabica is an umbrella term for this plant type in the coffee family. Numerous coffee bean species belong to the arabica family, many of which we'll be covering here.
Bourbon is a variety of the arabica plant that, despite its name, doesn't taste like the alcoholic beverage. As one of the first coffee plants, Bourbon is ideal for crossbreeding to create new arabica varieties.
Coffee from the Bourbon plant has a chocolatey and sweet flavor. It also sometimes has a fruity taste, depending on the soil where it's grown. Speaking of growing, Bourbon falls under the categorization of a High Grown or Strictly High Grown plant in terms of its altitude requirements.
A downside to the bourbon species is that the shrub doesn't produce a lot of berries. However, because of how high quality the berries are, it's worth farmers' efforts to cultivate them.
Catuai Beans are an arabica coffee variety developed by Brazilians in the 1950s. Its naturally dwarf statue makes it easy to pick its berries, and it has a decent yield potential after the plant reaches three years of age. Coffee farmers love that as a result of Catuai's small size, it's easy to place the plants close together, which significantly improves their production.
In addition to Brazil, Catuai beans gained significant popularity in Costa Rica, where it holds a fair amount of economic weight in the coffee industry.
An acidic and slightly sweet flavor draws people to Catuai coffee. Unfortunately, it's a finicky plant to grow; it's incredibly susceptible to coffee leaf rust and damage from nematodes.
Arabica and robusta coffee bean varieties may be the most popular coffee beans on the market, but Excelsa beans enjoy the label of being the top four most favored coffee bean variety (Liberica beans being the other).
Up until 2006, scientists believed that Excelsa was its own coffee plant species. However, British botanist Aaron P. Davis convinced the scientific world that, in reality, Excelsa belongs to the Liberica species. In either case, Excelsa beans continue to comprise approximately 7% of worldwide coffee production.
Excelsa coffee plants grow up to 30 feet tall, and the beans have an attractive almond shape. They primarily call Southeast Asia home, where growing conditions allow them to thrive. They're most commonly used in conjunction with other coffee bean varieties to add thickness and a more robust flavor. People often enjoy that Excelsa produces an aroma that teeters between a light, medium and dark roast.
Coffee enthusiasts encourage consumers to savor Excelsa-based coffee in the middle and back area of their palates. That's where they say you can savor the classic combination of fruit and tart taste. Since this coffee variety is especially common in Vietnam, the flavor will likely bring back memories if you've ever traveled there.
Founded in Gesha, Ethiopia, the Geisha coffee bean is now commonly grown in Colombia and Panama. It's an attractive plant to grow for farmers since it sells for a high price.
Geisha coffee beans contain a unique floral and sweet flavor. The riper the coffee berries are when picked, the sweeter the taste the coffee will have. Coffee lovers describe Geisha as having hints of jasmine, honey, chocolate, and black tea. It's this unique flavor combination that makes Geisha coffee beans sell for such a high price.
In 2019, one pound of Geisha beans sold for nearly $1,030 per pound at the Best of Panama Competition and Auction. Many people consider it to be the most valuable coffee across the globe.
Jamaican Blue Mountain Beans
Travelers who've spent time in Jamaica surely recognize the name Jamaican Blue Mountain (JBM) coffee. The light, gently acidic flavor leaves visitors craving Jamaica's unique cup of joe long after leaving the country.
JBM coffee grows so well in Jamaica because of ideal elevations and the abundant nitrogen and phosphorus in its volcanic soil. Jamaica also receives regular rainfall throughout the year.
Termed the "Champagne of Coffees" by many, you never have to worry about the quality of your JBM coffee beans—Jamaicans strictly control the conditions in which JBM is grown. Because of the limited area where JBM thrives, it's considered a scarce coffee variety. They pack the coffee beans into wooden barrels to further make it feel like an exclusive coffee species.
Lovers of sweets will drool over Jember coffee; coffee enthusiasts describe it as containing a caramel, brown sugar, and maple-like flavor. It originated in Indonesia, and the name "Jember" is Amharic for "sunset."
Nowadays, Jember beans are popular in Ethiopia, where the company Jember Coffee focuses on producing sustainable income and cultivation practices for local coffee farmers. Ten percent of proceeds from the Jember Coffee you purchase will go towards educating Ethiopia children.
Liberica is a common coffee bean variety that originated in western and central Africa. In fact, its name Liberica came from Liberia, the country where locals discovered the plant. It gained popularity in Southeast Asian countries when Indonesians replaced it with arabica trees—since the Liberica variety holds up better against coffee rust disease, its hardiness attracted them.
Liberica's bean size is larger than average, and they have an irregular shape. The plants are relatively rare, with limited availability on the global market. As a result, Liberica beans are more expensive than arabica and robusta beans. However, lovers of caffeine may balk at the fact that of the three coffee varieties, Liberica beans have the least amount of caffeine.
If you can get past its lower caffeine content, you'll likely be amazed that Liberica tastes differently than any other coffee you've tried. Among hints of a floral and fruity flavor, this coffee also has a woody and smokey undertone.
Liberica is commonly added to other coffee bean varieties to offer a fuller, more robust flavor to a coffee blend. Despite its disease-fighting advantages, coffee growers around the globe tend to favor cultivating arabica and robusta. For this reason, Liberica is an endangered species.
As another arabica coffee bean variety, the Mocha plant is from Mocha, Yemen. Its berries are unique from that of other coffee plants; they're pale yellow, small, firm, and with an irregular round shape.
Historically, Mocha is commonly mixed with Java beans since Indonesians would pass through the Mocha port on their way to Mecca. Although this combination has lost some popularity with the invention of so many different coffee varieties, it's still possible to purchase it in certain coffee shops and online.
Nowadays, farmers most commonly cultivate Mocha in Yemen and Hawaii. People enjoy that it has a chocolatey flavor.
Mundo Novo Beans
Translated to "New World," the Mundo Novo bean is aptly named; it's grown primarily in South America. The advantages of this coffee plant species are that it grows quickly and produces some of the greatest quantity of berries of any coffee species.
The Mundo Novo plant has an average bean size, and the plant grows on the tall side. Its leaves are green or bronze, and it takes about three years for it to begin producing berries.
Unfortunately, one of the biggest reasons it hasn't gained more traction worldwide is its susceptibility to diseases. Coffee leaf rust and coffee berry disease are among some of the factors that can devastate entire crops of Mundo Novo plants.
Robusta is the second most popular type of coffee bean after arabica. It originated in Africa and is now commonly grown in tropical climates across the globe. Several factors make robusta stand out from arabica. They include:
- 1.2% more caffeine
- Fewer lipids and sugar
- More antioxidants
- Hardier to hold up against pests and disease
- Requires less herbicide and pesticide
Robusta coffee has low acidity and more bitterness than arabica beans. A higher caffeine concentration is the reason for its more bitter flavor. Some people enjoy its full-bodied, earthy taste, while most consumers prefer the smoother, more acidic flavor of arabica coffee. Coffee lovers most commonly use robusta for making espresso, instant coffee, and as a filler for coffee blends.
Currently, Brazil is the biggest producer of arabica, and Vietnam is the largest producer of robusta. Robusta is attractive for coffee farmers since it's a cheaper bean to produce. The reason being is that it's easier to tend to, requiring fewer pesticides and insecticides, and it offers a higher bean yield than arabica.
Whereas most coffee drinkers would choose arabica coffee over robusta coffee, there's one notable difference—Italian espresso. Robusta beans are used almost exclusively in espresso since they create a foamier consistency and have more caffeine.
It may sound like a strange name for a coffee plant, but SL-34 has its origins in Kenya, where Scott Agricultural Laboratories (hence "SL") handpicked the best coffee plants of this variety. It's a tall plant that offers exceptional quality at high altitude elevations. The beans are large and give coffee farmers a high yield.
Although SL-34 makes for a delicious cup of coffee, the plant is prone to coffee berry disease. For this reason, it hasn't gained as much worldwide traction as other coffee varieties, although it's the most exported coffee variety in Kenya.
People lovingly nicknamed SL-34 a "blueberry bomb" because of its fruity flavor. The taste lingers longer in the mouth than most types of coffee.
As part of the Bourbon bean variety, Villalobos (also called Villa Sarchi) is a hardy coffee plant that farmers primarily cultivate in Costa Rica. It grows best in high altitude areas and holds up well against strong winds. Its yield potential is fair, although it doesn't produce as many coffee beans as other species.
Due to a single-gene mutation, Villalobos coffee plants are short, and their beans are smaller than average. It's most well known for pairing well with hybrid coffee plants to help prevent coffee leaf rust.
Coffee made with Villalobos beans has a strong acidic taste. It also contains a sweet flavor, even though it is grown best in poor soil conditions.
Types of Coffee Drinks
If you've ever spent time with a coffee fan, they've likely talked about far more coffee drinks than the standard coffee with milk and sugar. If all the names have your head spinning, or if you're interested in trying out a fancy-sounding coffee at your local café, the hot and iced coffee explanations below will prepare you.
A sweet twist on a traditional cup of joe, affogato is a coffee dessert. The steps to make it are simple; take a shot of hot espresso and pour it over a scoop of (usually vanilla) ice cream.
A watered-down version of espresso, perfect for people who want to dilute robusta's strong flavor. The flavor is closer to regular brewed coffee versus an espresso shot. It's best to put the espresso in your cup first, then pour hot water over it.
A drip coffee machine makes black coffee. It's similar to Americano, but the difference is that black coffee involves hot water added to coffee grounds instead of espresso. It does not contain any milk, sugar, or other additives.
Cappuccino is an espresso coffee that contains steamed milk foam. It's possible to make a cappuccino with cream or non-dairy milk. Some people also add flavors or sprinkle cinnamon or cacao powder on top.
Café au lait
A black brewed coffee with hot milk added. Unlike lattes, it doesn't have espresso, steamed milk, or foam.
A refrigerated version of coffee that never underwent heating. It has a higher concentration of coffee compared to the drip variety. Cold brewed coffee has a more robust flavor than drip coffee, but it contains less caffeine.
Cortado is an espresso-based drink that has the same amount of steamed warm milk as espresso. That way, acidity is reduced. Unlike regular espresso, cortado doesn't have a frothy texture.
Perfect for those craving lots of caffeine, Doppio is a double shot of espresso. The espresso is extracted with a double coffee filter, offering double the benefits of a regular shot of espresso.
Originating in Italy, espresso is a beloved caffeine-rich drink with a strong flavor. Its signature texture results from it undergoing 9 to 10 bars of atmospheric pressure as it passes through ground robusta coffee beans.
An espresso drink with a smaller amount of foam (called a microfoam) compared to a regular espresso. People who prefer having more coffee than milk in their coffee choose this option.
As a Starbucks branded drink, Frappuccinos are a blended iced coffee. The widely recognized drink combines ice, flavored syrups, and other ingredients to form a sweet coffee drink. Many baristas top it off with whipped cream and syrup or spices.
Native to Portugal, Galão is a Portuguese espresso. Approximately 75% of this drink contains foamed milk, and it's served in a tall glass since it has more volume than regular espresso.
You can make iced coffee in one of two ways—either brewing the coffee hot or cold. In either case, the final product involves a chilled coffee that's packed with ice. You can also make iced coffee by pouring hot coffee over ice.
Iced espresso is the same concept as iced coffee, except that it uses espresso instead of brewed coffee. You can either pour hot or cold espresso over ice to achieve this cool, summertime go-to drink.
Coffee with a kick, Irish style coffee contains hot coffee, Irish whiskey, and sugar. Pouring cream over the top is the final touch, making for a calorie-rich, delicious drink.
A latte contains espresso and steamed milk. Often, coffee shops carve designs into the steamed milk. Some may also sprinkle spices like cinnamon over the top.
The Italian Lungo uses an espresso machine. However, it contains a greater quantity of water than espresso and is more bitter. Traditionally, Italians make Lungo without milk.
Meaning "stained" in Italian, Macchiato is an espresso drink that contains a tiny amount of milk, looking almost like a stain on top of the espresso. The milk can either be regular or foamed, but the foam is the most popular.
Originating in Algeria, Mazagran is now widespread in Europe. It's a sweet cold coffee. In Portugal, they add lemon, mint, and rum to espresso. In Austria, Mazagran contains only ice and rum.
Beloved for its chocolate flavor, Mocha is a latte with a chocolate twist. Also called Mochaccino, its name comes from Mocha, Yemen, where the Mocha coffee bean grows.
The nitrogen-infused Nitro coffee involves pumping nitrogen gas through a pressurized valve. People love it since it gives coffee an extra dose of sweetness and enhances its flavor.
Designed for people wanting caffeine, Red Eye involves brewed coffee and a shot of espresso. Alternatively, you can order a Red Eye coffee with two espresso shots, which is also called a Black Eye.
A less bitter version of espresso, Ristretto has a higher espresso concentration since it contains half the usual amount of water.
Coffee may seem like a simple drink, but different kinds of utensils can impact its quality and your overall coffee experience. We'll cover some of the most common types of coffee utensils here.
There's something about whole coffee beans that give extra flavor to a cup of coffee. However, you'll need a coffee grinder to prepare them. Below are some different styles of coffee grinders.
Blade Coffee Grinder
Blade grinders chop coffee beans into small pieces instead of grinding them into a powdery consistency. The benefits of blade grinders are that they're inexpensive, and you can control how little you want to chop your coffee beans. Disadvantages include they don't get sliced evenly, and heat from the blades can give your coffee a burned flavor.
Burr Coffee Grinder
Burr grinders excel at grinding coffee beans evenly since they pulverize the beans as large or fine as you'd like. Unlike blade grinders, burr grinders tend not to clog as much, and they produce richer tasting coffee.
Dosing Grinder vs. Non-Dosing Coffee Grinder
Coffee grinders with a dosing feature automatically place ground coffee into pre-measured containers so that it's ready to dispense when you want to brew a cup of coffee. Beyond the convenience, some people prefer non-dosing grinders since they want their coffee freshly ground every day.
High-Speed vs. Low-Speed Coffee Grinder
Low-speed grinders are a more economical option and are suitable for brews that don't need constant grinds, such as the French press and drip-brew. High-speed grinders grind beans faster and offer less heat transfer so that coffee beans hold on to their original flavor.
Whether you buy coffee beans or pre-ground coffee, you're going to need a coffee maker if you want to make anything other than instant coffee in your home. Let's look at some of the most popular types of coffee makers.
Pour Over Coffee Maker
Pour-over coffee makers involve putting hot water over coffee grounds that are sitting in a filter. Although they're similar to drip coffee makers, many people prefer pour-over coffee makers because it allows them to control the water temperature and how they pour the water, such as by hand with a kettle.
Drip Coffee Maker
Drip coffee makers are an automatic form of pour-over makers. They heat water on their own and then pass steam through a tube system. The water then flows over the grounds and through the filter into a coffee pot.
French presses are among the most complicated coffee makers, but they produce some of the highest quality coffee. You'll need to do everything from measuring the ingredients to watching the time. The most significant benefit to using a French press is that the coffee bean oils reach your mug and microscopic coffee grounds enter the coffee, offering a more full-bodied flavor.
Vacuum Coffee Maker
Vacuum coffee makers use a siphon to change the vapor pressure of the water. It heats the water from beneath the coffee pot, and the pressurized environment sends water up over the coffee grounds. Similar to the French Press, using a vacuum coffee maker involves a learning curve.
Espresso makers operate by pushing pressurized hot water through a narrow area of ground coffee. That movement produces a thicker consistency than regular coffee and gives espresso its concentrated flavor.
Coffee Cups / Coffee Mugs
Walk into most stores, and you'll have your pick of different styles of coffee cups and coffee mugs. Below are different kinds of coffee cups and mugs available on the market. But, you should probably just do what we do around the holidays and gift out Steelers coffee mugs to everyone we know.
- Travel mug
- Small espresso cups
- Glass cups
- Melamine for insulation
- Stainless steel
Regardless of the coffee cup or mug you choose, you'll want to ensure it protects your hands from your wonderfully hot cup of joe.
Helpful Coffee Utensil Extras
We've covered the essential coffee utensils you need in your home, but there are plenty of extra fun gadgets out there to improve your coffee experience. They include:
Coffee Bean Storage: A device for keeping coffee beans fresh. They typically have a vacuum seal to keep air and moisture out.
Scale: Ideal for ensuring you have the perfect ratio of water and coffee grounds. Coffee scales are ideal for when you make coffee for different size groups.
Coffee Scoop: Sure, you can use a spoon to measure your coffee. But consider purchasing a coffee scoop for the perfect coffee to water ratio every time.
Filter Storage: Having a dry and easy-to-access place for your filters is essential for delicious coffee. Filter storages range from fully covered containers to elevated open-air stands.
Water Filter: There's nothing like purchasing high-quality coffee and then destroying its taste with low-quality water. A water filter will help you eliminate unwanted flavors in your coffee.
Important Coffee Terms to Know
To some, coffee is coffee. However, for those interested in learning about it, coffee is a complex topic with its own vocabulary. The terms listed below are in alphabetical order and will get you on your way to becoming a coffee expert.
Acidity: Gives coffee a tart flavor. Generally speaking, the more acidic a cup of coffee is, the higher its quality and demand. Acidity is sometimes called "liveliness."
Balance: Coffee with good balance means that there isn't one flavor that overrides another. Experts say that balanced coffee is complex because it has many flavors of equal strength.
Blend: The mixing of two (and sometimes three or more) single-origin coffee beans.
Body: How thick and creamy coffee feels on the tongue. Full-bodied coffee feels like it has a heavier and richer texture.
Briny: Gives coffee a salty taste, which is a negative characteristic. Overheating coffee beans or grinds is the most common cause of brininess, which typically happens when someone leaves coffee in hot conditions, such as on a tractor-trailer.
Cupping: A technique that professional coffee drinkers use when testing coffee samples. It involves pouring water over ground coffee and tasting the liquid on the spot.
Degassing: After roasting, coffee automatically releases carbon dioxide, which is a process called degassing. It's a critical step since it protects the coffee beans from oxygen for a few days.
Finish: The feeling in the mouth and throat after you've just swallowed a sip of coffee. It’s a word commonly used by expert coffee tasters.
Hard Bean: Coffee plants that grow at or above 4,000 feet. Rough growing conditions mean that these coffee plants produce a firmer berry.
New Crop: Coffee that undergoes roasting shortly after being harvest. That means that the coffee berries are fresh and keeping their brightest color.
Organic Coffee: Coffee plants that never touched any pesticides, herbicides, or other chemicals during any stage of the coffee bean's growth.
Patio Drying: A traditional process of drying freshly picked coffee berries. Once farmers remove the pulp from coffee, they place the coffee beans out in the sun on open patios, often spreading them around with a rake.
Shade Grown: An environmentally friendly way of growing coffee since they don't have to cut down any or many trees in the process. It's also a natural form of pesticide since birds living in the trees help minimize insect attacks on the coffee plants.
Single Origin Coffee: Coffee beans that come from a single place and the same crop. During the packaging process, people don’t mix the coffee beans with any other types of coffee.
Sorting: The process of selecting coffee beans at a mill once they're dry. Sorting involves putting coffee beans together according to size, density, and defects.
USDA: Stands for the United States Department of Agriculture. Coffee with a USDA label meets certified organic standards.
That's a Coffee Wrap
With a history as rich as its flavor, coffee is a drink that people enjoy across the globe. From friendships to business meetings to dates, coffee helps people bond. And given how many coffee varieties there are, people well versed in coffee aren't likely to run out of conversation topics anytime soon.