Coffee is a brewed drink prepared from roasted coffee beans, which are the seeds of "berries" from the Coffee plant. Coffee plants are cultivated in over 70 countries, primarily in the equatorial regions of the Americas, Southeast Asia, India and Africa. The two most commonly grown are the highly regarded Arabica, and the less sophisticated but stronger and more hardy Robusta. The latter is resistant to the coffee leaf rust, Hemileia vastatrix, but has a more bitter taste. Once ripe, coffee beans are picked, processed, and dried. Green (unroasted) coffee beans are one of the most traded agricultural commodities in the world. Once traded, the beans are roasted to varying degrees, depending on the desired flavor, before being ground and brewed to create coffee.
Coffee is slightly acidic (pH 5.0–5.1) and can have a stimulating effect on humans because of its caffeine content. Coffee is one of the most popular drinks in the world. It can be prepared and presented in a variety of ways. The effect of coffee on human health has been a subject of many studies, however, results have varied in terms of coffee's relative benefit. The majority of recent research suggests that moderate coffee consumption is benign or mildly beneficial in healthy adults. However, the diterpenes in coffee may increase the risk of heart disease.
Coffee cultivation first took place in Southern Arabia. The earliest credible evidence of coffee-drinking appears in the middle of the 15th century in the Sufi shrines of Yemen. In the Horn of Africa and Yemen, coffee was used in local religious ceremonies. As these ceremonies conflicted with the beliefs of the Christian church, the Ethiopian Church banned the secular consumption of coffee until the reign of Emperor Menelik. The beverage was also banned in Ottoman Turkey during the 17th century for political reasons, and was associated with rebellious political activities in Europe.
Coffee is a major export commodity: it was the top agricultural export for twelve countries in 2004, the world's seventh-largest legal agricultural export by value in 2005, and "the second most valuable commodity exported by developing countries," from 1970 to circa 2000. This last fact is frequently misstated; see commodity market, below. Further, green (unroasted) coffee is one of the most traded agricultural commodities in the world. Some controversy is associated with coffee cultivation and its impact on the environment. Consequently, organic coffee is an expanding market.
The first reference to coffee in the English language is in the form chaona, dated to 1598 and understood to be a misprint of chaoua (equivalent, in the orthography of the time, to chaova). This term and "coffee" both derive from the Ottoman Turkish kahve, possibly by way of the Italian caffe. In turn this derives from the Arabic qahwah This is traditionally held to have originally referred to a type of wine, whose etymology is given by Arab lexicographers as deriving from the verb qaha ("to lack hunger") in reference to the drink's reputation as an appetite suppressant. It is sometimes alternatively traced to the Arabic quwwa ("power, energy") or to Kaffa, a medieval kingdom in Ethiopia whence the plant was exported to Arabia. Others with "equally little authority" even hold that the region was named after the drink. The connection to "Kaffa" has been disputed, however. The name qahwah is not used for the berry or plant (the products of the region), which are known in Arabic as bunn and Shoa as bun. Semitic had a root qhh "dark colour", which, since "coffee" is dark in colour, became a natural designation for the beverage. According to this analysis, the feminine form qahwah (also meaning "dark in colour, dull(ing), dry, sour") was likely chosen to parallel the feminine khamr ("wine"), and originally meant "the dark one".
A number of products are sold for the convenience of consumers who do not want to prepare their own coffee. Instant coffee is dried into soluble powder or freeze-dried into granules that can be quickly dissolved in hot water. Originally invented in 1907, it rapidly gained in popularity in many countries in the post-war period, with Nescafe being the most popular product. Many consumers determined that the convenience in preparing a cup of instant coffee more than made up for a perceived inferior taste. Paralleling (and complementing) the rapid rise of instant coffee was the coffee vending machine, invented in 1947 and multiplying rapidly through the 1950s.
Canned coffee has been popular in Asian countries for many years, particularly in China, Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan. Vending machines typically sell varieties of flavored canned coffee, much like brewed or percolated coffee, available both hot and cold. Japanese convenience stores and groceries also have a wide availability of bottled coffee drinks, which are typically lightly sweetened and pre-blended with milk. Bottled coffee drinks are also consumed in the United States.
Liquid coffee concentrates are sometimes used in large institutional situations where coffee needs to be produced for thousands of people at the same time. It is described as having a flavor about as good as low-grade robust a coffee, and costs about 10¢ a cup to produce. The machines can process up to 500 cups an hour or 1,000 if the water is preheated.
Coffee is bought and sold as green coffee beans by roasters, investors, and price speculators as a tradable commodity in commodity markets and exchange-traded funds. Coffee futures contracts for Grade 3 washed Arabic’s are traded on the New York Mercantile Exchange under ticker symbol KC, with contract deliveries occurring every year in March, May, July, September, and December. Coffee is an example of a product that has been susceptible to significant commodity futures price variations. Higher and lower grade Arabica coffees are sold through other channels. Futures contracts for Robusta coffee are traded on the London International Financial Futures and Options Exchange and, since 2007, on the New York Intercontinental Exchange. Dating to the 1970s, coffee has been incorrectly described by many, including historian Mark Pendergrast, as the world's "second most legally traded commodity". Instead, "coffee was the second most valuable commodity exported by developing countries," from 1970 to circa 2000. This fact was derived from the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development Commodity Yearbooks which show "Third World" commodity exports by value in the period 1970–1998 as being in order of crude oil in first place, coffee in second, followed by sugar, cotton, and others. Coffee continues to be an important commodity export for developing countries, but more recent figures are not readily available due to the shifting and politicized nature of the category "developing country".
International Coffee Day, which is claimed to have originated in Japan in 1983 with an event organized by the All Japan Coffee Association, takes place on September 29 in several countries.
Coffee is no longer thought to be a risk factor for coronary heart disease. A 2012 meta-analysis concluded that people who drank moderate amounts of coffee had a lower rate of heart failure, with the biggest effect found for those who drank more than four cups a day. Moreover, in one study, habitual coffee consumption was associated with improved vascular function.
In a ten-year study among 50,739 US women (mean age, 63 years) free of depressive symptoms at baseline (in 1996), coffee consumption was negatively correlated with risk of developing clinical depression. A review published in 2004 indicated a negative correlation between suicide rates and coffee consumption. It was suggested that the action of caffeine in blocking the inhibitory effects of adenosine on dopamine nerves in the brain reduced feelings of depression.
Polyphenols in coffee have been shown to affect free radicals in vitro, but there is no evidence that this effect occurs in humans. Polyphenol levels vary depending on how beans are roasted as well as for how long. As interpreted by the Linus Pauling Institute and the European Food Safety Authority, dietary polyphenols, such as those ingested by consuming coffee, have little or no direct antioxidant value following ingestion.
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