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What Is Coffee and Its History

Updated: Nov 27, 2022

Written by Poyraz Bahcivan


Still turning the heads of millions since it was first found, coffee has been one of the most preferred beverages all around the world with its great smell and taste. It was so appealing that it spread all around the globe in no time, which is the main intention behind writing this essay, to find the answers to the questions of why and how.


Initially appearing in the late 15th century, the word “coffee” was borrowed from the Turkish word “Kahve,” which was in turn borrowed from the Arabic word “qahwah (7).” It was first imported from Ethiopia, also considered to be the first country to produce coffee, to Yemen by a Sufi Imam, Muhammad Ibn Said Al Dhabhani, who had been known to have imported goods (1). Coffee continued its journey through the Ottoman Empire in the 16th century, thanks to a governor who had a great fondness for this drink. Later, in the 17th century, Turks introduced coffee to Europeans, who later will introduce the drink to the whole world. Years brought variation, thus, you have a large variety of options to customize your drink. It can be mixed with anything, In this manner, the only limit is the individual's preferences and creativity. You can change the ingredients, or their proportions, and experience a whole different taste. Some people even prefer it mixed with its main competitor, tea.


Coffee is mainly separated into two types: Arabica and Robusta (4). The main difference between them is their taste and where they are grown. Robusta doubles Arabica on caffeine level. While Arabica is cultivated at higher altitudes of Central and South American subtropical climates, Robusta is cultivated in Central and West Africa and Southeast Asia, due to the requirement of little rainfall and lower altitudes to grow (2). Over 70% of the coffee grown around the world is Arabica which is generally known as the higher quality bean. On the other hand, robusta is commonly used in instant coffees.


Coffee is also widely known for one of its chemical components, caffeine. Many people consume coffee to benefit from caffeine’s arousing effect. Caffeine is a stimulant that increases activity in your brain and nervous system (3). Within one hour of eating or drinking caffeine, it reaches its peak level in your blood. You may continue to feel the effects of caffeine for four to six hours. As with many other things, while a proper amount of it could be beneficial, a lot of it could cause many different health problems such as insomnia, nervousness, restlessness, nausea, and increased heart rate.


After we consume a lot of a certain good, our body builds up a tolerance to it, which means, the amount of the good you consumed is not enough to fulfill the needs of your body, thus, to get the same effect, it is needed to increase the dose. Called caffeine dependency, research shows that consuming a lot of coffee can get you to be tolerated, or to be more explicit, addicted, to caffeine. Therefore, according to authorities, caffeine is considered the most widely used drug in the world (6).


In a nutshell, among many other beverages, coffee outstands with its history, variety, and powerful arousing effect. It is seen as “the fuel of writing” by many writers, hence, it seems to have taken its place in many pieces of art. Even the famous composer Beethoven had something with coffee: He would count out precisely 60 beans of coffee for each cup (5). Forsooth, it was not what he drank, but it was the process of preparing what he fell in love with. It is my belief that learning to enjoy the process as much as the award we get at the end could be the key to a more meaningful, or relatively happier life.


References:
  1. Alallawi, B. (2021, September 19). How did coffee spread around the world? and how can a cup https://www.edseed.me/2021/09/18/how-did-coffee-spread-around-the-world-and-how-can-a-cup-of-coffee-change-the-world-for-the-better-152/

  2. Barista Supplies. (2019, October 21). Arabica coffee beans vs robusta coffee beans. what's The difference anyway? Barista Supplies. Retrieved November 4, 2022, from https://www.baristasupplies.com.au/arabica-coffee-beans-vs-robusta-coffee-beans-whats-the-difference-anyway/

  3. Department of Health & Human Services. (2000, June 14). Caffeine. Better Health Channel. Retrieved November 4, 2022, from https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/healthyliving/caffeine

  4. Hawkins, A., & Picard, C. (2022, August 25). Surprising facts about coffee. Good Housekeeping. Retrieved November 4, 2022, from https://www.goodhousekeeping.com/health/diet-nutrition/a30303/facts-about-coffee/

  5. Lucy. (2022, March 10). Coffee and literature: Readers who love it, writers who need it. Tolstoy Therapy. Retrieved November 4, 2022, from https://www.tolstoytherapy.com/coffee-and-literature-readers-and-writers-love-it/

  6. Meredith, S. E., Juliano, L. M., Hughes, J. R., & Griffiths, R. R. (2013, September). Caffeine use disorder: A comprehensive review and research agenda. Journal of caffeine research. Retrieved November 4, 2022, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3777290/

  7. Wikimedia Foundation. (2022, October 25). History of coffee. Wikipedia. Retrieved November 1, 2022, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_coffee

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