Happy International Coffee Day!
Java. Joe. Black Tea. Sweet Colombian Mouth Candy. Coffee is a beverage known by many names, but by only one general sentiment: sweet unadulterated love and affection. Millions of people enjoy it every day, while millions more depend on it to kick start their morning, their afternoon, or their entire day. Without extending into grandiose hyperbole, it seems easy to say that coffee is the lifeblood of the human machine; the fuel that catalyzes our growth and development and the oil that lubricates and maintains its constant pursuit of expansion and betterment.
In my humble opinion–which I’d imagine is the opinion of any God-fearing, freedom-loving, human being–coffee deserves to be celebrated and praised every day. A portion of every morning should be poured out to this chosen beverage, a moment of silence given for every bean that sacrificed it’s life for our enjoyment. Unfortunately, this is not to be had. The beverage which has fueled men to build buildings and cure diseases, which has enabled screenwriters to push past page 45 of their zombie AND vampire screenplay (It’s got a romance angle, so don’t worry, it’s fresh), only gets a SINGLE day. Not even a month of Black Bean history and appreciation. Or, a Hannukah-like eight night celebration. Javannukah: a celebration of brew-ish history and culture.
It only gets one day. September 29th–International Coffee Day. So we must take this day to honor and praise our sweet mocha lightning as it deserves. We must educate, dedicate, appreciate, advocate, conjugate, and defeca…. say a bunch of nice things about coffee. In honor of International Coffee Day–and its 20th Anniversary–I present to you 20(ish) facts about the one and only beverage known as coffee.
It Was Sent Here By God
And no, I don’t mean in that Southern Baptist sense where “all things are God’s creations, and the TV show Dinosaurs was actually a documentary about life 5,000 years ago.” Although multiple accounts are given for the first usage of coffee in human civilization, they all are religious in nature. Some claim that coffee was first used in ceremonies at Sufi Shrines in Yemen.
Others contend that it was discovered by “Sheik Omar” (the actual sheik, and not the underground rapper that I’m sure also has that name) after he was exiled from Yemen. Apparently whilst struggling to find food near his cave home–as exiles and Bigfoots are want to do–he discovered and attempted to eat coffee berries. Extremely bitter and inedible, he tried to roast then boil the berry’s seeds–in the process creating coffee and becoming the world’s most overworked and unappreciated barista. Word of his magical healing beverage spread, and soon he returned to Yemen and was praised as a saint.
The other big origin story–of Kaldi the Ethiopian goatherder (I know, I know… we’ve all heard this one a thousand times from our parents)–claims that coffee’s potential future was found centuries earlier. Apparently while tending to his goats Kaldi saw that those who ate the coffee berries were unusually excited and would “dance” in front of him. It was then that he realized the berry’s (and the bean’s) future potential. Although God isn’t directly referenced in this tale (which a good portion believe is actually a post dated piece of fiction), I would argue that anything that makes a human see dancing goats–and wasn’t found at Burning Man–is obviously the work of the divine.
And We Really Love It
In 2011 the world produced and harvested 7.875 million tons of coffee beans. To put that in perspective, on average a pound of coffee contains somewhere in the ballpark of 3,400 individual beans. That would mean–when you do the math–that in 2011 we harvested a big old crap-ton of beans. The kind of crap-ton where the calculator just starts adding in letters because it knows you can’t possibly verify anything it tells you.
To put it in more easy to manage terms, coffee is the SECOND MOST TRADED COMMODITY ON THE PLANET EARTH. The only item sold, traded, and sought after more than coffee? Oil. You know that little thing that powers almost all of human invention and has spawned almost (and I emphasize almost) as much war and bloodshed as George R.R. Martin. Yep, that’s the only thing more popular than coffee.
Starbucks–to the surprise of no one–is the largest coffee house company in the world. They have nearly 21,000 branches in 62 different countries. With sizes, shots, flavors, and all other things considered, they have over 87,000 possible espresso combinations available. Perhaps that’s why in 2012 the company raked in 13.29 billion dollars. Or it could be because there coffee is ridiculously expensive and addictive. Or it could be global warming, I don’t know. I have an English degree.
No, But Seriously, We REALLY Love It
Everyday–Every. Day.–the world consumes over 1 billion cups of coffee. And that is the SAFE estimate. Depending on which research you listen to–i.e., which Wikipedia page you get to first–some estimate that number to be as high as 2.25 billion cups a day. That means that at the very least the world drank 400 billion cups of coffee last year, and may have potentially had somewhere in the ballpark of twice that. America’s contribution–400 million cups each and every day. Suck on that Slovenia. Bro, do you even sip?
Still–and it enrages me, and my pet American Eagle Abe Washington Jr. to type this–we’re not even the biggest consumers of coffee when you look at national consumptions per capita. But we’re like #2, right? And #1 is like Colombia, but they have an asterisk because Juan Valdez has has been juicing their entire population since the ’80s right? Not even close. The nation whose per person average is the highest? Finland. We’re getting beat by the Finnish.
In fact, the whole of Scandinavia apparently has coffee (and one would imagine it’s consumer’s bowel movements as well) flowing like water. Norway, Iceland, Denmark, Netherlands, Sweden and Switzerland round out the top 7. America, is number 26. Twenty Six. Those Fins–per person–have almost three times as much as we do. And those Slovenians I may have singled out earlier, oh they just happen to be #13. That’s right, the SLOVENIANS are beating America. In something other than poverty or “tough to pronounce” names. I hope you’re all ashamed. We need to learn to be more gluttonous as a nation, obviously we are slacking.
Some Just Love It More Than Others
During World War II American branches of the military would compete against each other to see which groups would consume the most coffee. Because, of course, World War Two was just rife with free time for everyone. The winner? The US Marines claimed to drink 20 cups per day. Because again, World War II was also a time when rationing food and supplies was completely unnecessary.
Although data is scarce–and the data I could find seems as reliable and researched as something you’d find about pregnancy on Yahoo Answers–it appears the world record for coffee consumption is 82 cups in a 7 hour time span. There’s no information on who the record belongs to–which is odd as I’m sure the person who attempts to drink 80+ cups of coffee is sane, not lonely, and a pleasure to be around–but the science does seem plausible. Caffeine is lethal, but it would take about 100 cups over a 4 hour period to kill someone. Ironically, you can achieve the same results by standing in line at a Starbucks for four hours, and not drinking any coffee.
What is clearly defined however–despite Finland’s or our own protests–is that Italians are the world’s most fervent coffee lovers. Although they choose espresso as their beverage of choice, their reverence to the the coffee bean is well documented. Espresso is held in such high regard that drinking it is almost a rehearsed art form, and is given it’s own special time during the day. Thousands of dedicated espresso bars are found all throughout the country, and espresso is such an integral part to the daily life of Italians that the price is regulated by the government.
Fun fact: espresso literally means “when forced out.” I’ll give you two guesses as to why I–and my third grader’s comedy palette–think that hysterical. Actually, I’ll give you “number 2” reasons. Which speaking of…
We Love It, Even When It’s Crap
In a very “special”–and if I could, I’d smother that word in 45 quotation marks–variation of coffee that’s actually the entire selling point. Called Kopi Luwak, this particular blend of coffee starts with the small Asian jungle cat named the civet. The civet eats the coffee berries, and then excretes the seeds. These seeds are then “cleaned”–yep, throw another 45 quotation marks on that too–processed, and brewed. Consumers say the Civet’s digestion of the beans removes bitterness and increases the taste profile of the coffee, making it a rare and valuable commodity. How rare? It’s the most expensive coffee available, with people reportedly paying up to 700 dollars per pound. Yep. Cat crap coffee, 700 dollars PER POUND.
On a happier note, Kopi Luwak is extremely hard to regulate and verify. Currently, the amount of Kopi Luwak coffee sold is 50 times the amount of what is actually produced. Meaning that 49 out of 50 times that 700 dollar pound of coffee is actually just shitty coffee, not coffee that was shit. Which is–against all reason–somehow not good news.
Wait, We’re Not Done With The Crap Parallels?
Did I mention we love coffee? Of course not. How could we forget about Mike and Trina: the subject of an episode of TLC’s My Strange Addiction. As TLC–and our own wondrous Luis Prada—have already chronicled–Mike and Trina have taken to having their coffee dark. Very dark. Over 100 times a month, they’ll give themselves a coffee enema: ramming a tube directly in their rear, and unloading a Grande drip of unwanted imagery right in their rectums. Why? Mike and Trina say it alleviated some stomach and intestine issues, and for them is a rush of euphoria and excitement.
Andrew Slafta is a “hopeful comedic writer” with an emphasis on the “dic.” He can be searched in the annals of Google, or insulted at Twitter via @andrewslafta.