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Little known facts about coffee

Sure, coffee is one of the most popular beverages in the world, with millions of people starting their day with a cup of this aromatic drink. While many know about the different types of coffee, its taste profiles, and the cultural aspects surrounding its consumption, there are some intriguing and lesser-known facts about coffee that might surprise even the most dedicated coffee aficionados.

1. Coffee was originally eaten.

One of the less commonly shared facts about coffee is that before it became a beverage, its beans (or rather, seeds) were mixed with fat to create energy-rich snacks. African tribes would roll these together, forming edible balls to provide sustenance on long journeys.

2. The world's most expensive coffee comes from animal poop.

Kopi Luwak, which can cost up to several hundred dollars per pound, is made from coffee beans that have been eaten and excreted by a civet, a cat-like creature found in Southeast Asia. The beans are harvested from the animal's feces and then cleaned and roasted.

3. Coffee grew in the Arabian Peninsula for centuries before going global.

While coffee plants originated in Ethiopia, it wasn't until the beans were brought to Yemen in the 15th century that coffee was brewed similarly to how we enjoy it today. It became a popular drink in the Muslim world where alcohol was prohibited, and its popularity grew from there.

4. There exists a spa where you can bathe in coffee.

In Hakone, Japan, there is a spa theme park that offers a variety of pools, one of which is filled with coffee. Bathing in coffee is believed by some to have rejuvenating effects on the body, such as improving skin condition and increasing blood circulation.

5. Coffee helped to lead to the development of the webcam.

The world's first webcam was created due to coffee. Researchers at the University of Cambridge rigged up a camera to monitor the pot in their break room digitally, to avoid wasted trips when looking for coffee. They set up a live picture of the pot on their internal network, which eventually became accessible on the worldwide web.

6. Beethoven was an obsessive coffee lover.

The famous composer Ludwig van Beethoven was reputed to be quite particular about his coffee, counting out exactly 60 beans to make his cup, as he believed this was the perfect amount for the ideal brew.

7. The term "Americano" comes from World War II.

American soldiers in Europe would dilute the strong local coffee with water to approximate the coffee to which they were accustomed back home. Hence, the term "Americano" was born, describing essentially a diluted espresso.

8. Coffee has its own version of sommeliers.

In the coffee industry, there are professionals known as "Q Graders" who are certified to grade and score coffee similar to the way sommeliers do with wine. They must pass a series of rigorous tests to ensure their sensory skills are sharp.

9. Finland is the world’s top coffee consumer.

Although the largest producers of coffee are countries like Brazil and Colombia, the highest per capita consumers are the Finns, known to consume around 12 kilograms (over 26 pounds) of coffee per person, per year.

10. Coffee beans are not actually beans.

The so-called "beans" are actually the seeds of the coffee cherry. Each cherry usually contains two seeds, but sometimes cherries will contain only one seed, which results in a "peaberry," a type of coffee bean prized for its richer flavor.

These fascinating tidbits illustrate that coffee isn't just a beloved drink; it's also the centerpiece of a variety of interesting stories and facts. The world of coffee is as complex and nuanced as the beverage itself.

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