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Coffee beans and a cup of coffee
Coffee beans and a cup of coffee

Coffee is a beverage, usually served hot, prepared from the roasted seeds of the coffee plant. These seeds are usually called coffee beans. In monetary terms, coffee is the second most traded commodity in the world, trailing only petroleum. Coffee is one of mankind's chief sources of the stimulant caffeine. Its potential benefits and hazards have been, and continue to be, widely studied and discussed.


Etymology and History

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The word entered English in 1598 via Italian caffè, via Turkish kahveh, from Arabic qahwa. Its ultimate origin is uncertain, there being several legendary accounts of the origin of the drink. One possible explanation is the Kaffa region in Ethiopia, where the plant originated (its native name there being bunna). Coffee beans were first imported from Ethiopia to Yemen. One legendary account (though certainly a myth) is that of the Yemenite Sufi mystic named Shaikh ash-Shadhili. When traveling in Ethiopia he observed goats of unusual vitality and, upon trying the berries that the goats had been eating, experienced the same effect. A similar myth ascribes the discovery to an Ethiopian goatherd named Kaldi. Qahwa originally referred to a type of wine, and need not be the name of the Kaffa region.

Consumption of coffee was outlawed in Mecca in 1511 and in Cairo in 1532, but in the face of its immense popularity, the decree was later reverted. In 1554, the first coffeehouse in Istanbul opened. Coffee was introduced in England in the 1430s by the Greek professor in Oxford Ioannis Servopoulos. Largely through the efforts of the British and Dutch East India companies, coffee became available in Europe in the 16th century, at the latest from Leonhard Rauwolf's 1583 account, with first coffeehouses opening in the mid-17th century: in Cornhill, London in 1652, in Boston in 1670, and in Paris in 1671. By 1675, there were more than 3,000 coffeehouses in England. Women were not allowed in coffeehouses, and in London, the 1674 anonymous "Women's Petition Against Coffee" complained that

the Excessive Use of that Newfangled, Abominable, Heathenish Liquor called COFFEE [...] has [...] Eunucht our Husbands, and Crippled our more kind Gallants, that they are become as Impotent, as Age [1].

Legend has it that the first coffeehouse opened in Vienna in 1683 after the Battle of Vienna, taking its supplies from the spoils left behind by the defeated Turks. Another more credible story is that the first coffeehouses were opened in Krakow in the 16th or 17th century because of closer trade ties with the East, most notably the Turks. The first coffee plantation in the New World was established in Brazil in 1727, and this country, like most others cultivating coffee as a commercial commodity, relied heavily on slave labor from Africa for its viability. The success of coffee in 17th-century Europe was paralleled with the spread of the habit of tobacco smoking all over the continent during the course of the Thirty Years War (1618–48).

The mother plant for much of the arabica coffee in the world is kept in the Amsterdam Hortus Botanicus.

The Cafe

In English, "cafe" refers mostly to places where meals are served, as well as coffee. In Dutch the word refers to a bar and is thus more associated with alcohol consumption. Also, in the Netherlands, the word coffee shop is used for places where marijuana is sold (the reason being that one needs fewer permits for a coffee shop). This usage of the word has also spread to other languages.

In French, Spanish, and German, a "café" is typically a place that serves a wide variety of beverages, usually several types of coffee, tea, and often alcoholic beverages. There is also often a selection of desserts or light sandwiches and other snacks.

Coffee bean types

There are two main species of the coffee plant. Coffea arabica is the older of them. It is thought to be indigenous to Ethiopia, but as the name implies it was first cultivated on the Arabian Peninsula. It is more susceptible to disease, and considered by professional cuppers to be greatly superior in flavor to Coffea canephora (robusta), which contains about twice as much caffeine—a natural insecticide—and can be cultivated in environments where arabica will not thrive. This has led to its use as an inexpensive substitute for arabica in many commercial coffee blends such as Folgers, Maxwell House and almost all instant coffee products. Compared to arabica, robusta tends to be more bitter, with a telltale "burnt rubber" aroma and flavor. Good quality robustas are used as ingredients in some espresso blends to provide a better "crema" (foamy head), and to lower the ingredient cost. In Italy many espresso blends are based on dark-roasted robusta.

Arabica coffees were traditionally named by the port they were exported from, the two oldest being Mocha, from Yemen, and Java, from Indonesia. The modern coffee trade is much more specific about origin, labeling coffees by country, region, and sometimes even the producing estate. Coffee aficionados may even distinguish auctioned coffees by lot number.

The largest coffee exporting nation remains Brazil, but in recent years the green coffee market has been flooded by large quantities of robusta beans from Vietnam [2], due to pressure and financing provided by the World Bank indirectly through the French Government. Many experts believe this giant influx of cheap green coffee led to the prolonged pricing crisis from 2001 to the present. In 1997 the "c" price of coffee in New York broke US$3.00/lb, but by late 2001 it had fallen to US$0.43/lb. Robusta coffees (traded in London at much lower prices than New York's Arabica) are preferred by large industrial clients (multinational roasters, instant coffee producers, etc.) because of their lower cost.

One unusual and very expensive variety of robusta is the Indonesian Kopi Luwak and the Philippine Kape Alamid. The beans are collected from the droppings of the Common Palm Civet, whose digestive processes give it a distinctive flavor.

Coffee bean varieties

Harvested coffee in Orosí in Costa Rica
Harvested coffee in Orosí in Costa Rica

Coffee beans from two different places usually have distinctive characteristics such as flavor, caffeine content, and acidity. These are dependent on the local environment where the coffee plants are grown, their method of process, and the genetic subspecies or varietal.

Some well-known arabica coffees include:

  • Colombian Milds - Includes coffees from Colombia, Kenya, and Tanzania, all of which are washed arabicas.
  • Ethiopian Harrar — from the region of Harar, Ethiopia
  • Ethiopian Yirgacheffe — from the area of the town of Yirga Cheffe in the Sidamo (now Oromia) region of Ethiopia
  • Hawaiian Kona — grown on the slopes of Hualalai in the Kona District on the Big Island of Hawaii.
  • Jamaican Blue Mountain — From the Blue Mountain region of Jamaica.
  • Java — from the island of Java in Indonesia. This coffee was once so widely traded that "java" became a slang term for coffee.
  • Kenya AA — from Kenya. The "AA" is a grade/rating within Kenya's coffee auction system. It might come from any one of a number of districts. Known among coffee enthusiasts to have an "acidic" flavor.
  • Sumatra Mandheling — named for the Mandheling region outside Padang in West Sumatra, Indonesia. A (very) little known fact: no coffee is actually produced from the "Mandheling region," and "Sumatra Mandheling" is used as a marketing tool by Indonesian coffee producers.
  • Mocha — Yemeni coffee traded through the once major port of Mocha. Not to be confused with the preparation style (coffee with cocoa).
  • Tanzania Peaberry — grown on Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania. "Peaberry" means that the beans come one to a cherry (coffee fruit) instead of the usual two.

Coffees are often blended for balance and complexity, and many popular blendings exist. One of the oldest traditional blends is Mocha-Java, combining beans of the same name. The chocolate flavor notes peculiar to Mocha gave rise to the popular chocolate-flavored beverage, the Cafe Mocha, which may have been invented in circumstances where no Mocha beans were available. In addition to those blends sold commercially, many coffee houses have their own signature "house blends".

Some bean varieties are so well-known and so in-demand that they are far more expensive than others. Jamaican Blue Mountain and Hawaiian Kona coffees are perhaps the most prominent examples. Often these beans are blended with other, less expensive varieties and the blend labeled as "Blue Mountain blend" or "Kona blend" even though they only contain a small amount of the coffee mentioned.

Ethical coffee

Shadow trees in Orosí in Costa Rica. In the background (red) shade trees and in the foreground pruned trees for different periods in the growth cycle.
Shadow trees in Orosí in Costa Rica. In the background (red) shade trees and in the foreground pruned trees for different periods in the growth cycle.

A number of classifications are used to label coffee produced under certain environmental or labor standards. So-called Ethical coffee is produced or traded under specific conditions and guidelines, which are claimed to be more environmentally friendly or economically equitable to the producers.

  • Bird-friendly or shade-grown coffee is produced in regions where natural shade (canopy trees) is used to shelter coffee plants during parts of the growing season. These shade cycles are said to be better for the coffee. Purchases of this coffee blend may also take place to support environmentally friendly coffee farms.
  • Organic coffee is produced under strict certification guidelines, and is grown without the use of potentially harmful artificial pesticides or fertilizers.
  • Fair Trade coffee is produced by small coffee producers; guaranteeing for these producers a preset price, circumventing the various coffee-trading processes. TransFair USA is the primary organization currently overseeing Fair Trade coffee practices.


Hand sorting of coffee beans in Salento, Colombia
Hand sorting of coffee beans in Salento, Colombia
Traditional coffee-drying in Boquete, Panama
Traditional coffee-drying in Boquete, Panama


The first step in preparation is sorting of beans by color and size. In many less developed countries, hand sorting is still done because of the low cost of labor. Elsewhere, beans are sorted automatically by sophisticated machines that employ CCD cameras and can determine both size and color. Automatic sorting is cost-effective for large producers where quantity and throughput are important factors in production.


Although it is still widely debated, certain types of green coffee are believed to improve with age; especially those that are valued for their low acidity, such as coffees from Indonesia or India. Several of these coffee producers sell coffee beans that have been aged for as long as 3 years, with some as long as 8 years.

However, most coffee experts agree that a green coffee peaks in flavor and freshness within one year of harvest.


See also: Coffee Roasting

The roasting process is integral to producing a savory cup of coffee. When roasted, the green coffee bean expands to nearly double its original size, changing in color and density. As the bean absorbs heat, the color shifts to yellow and then to a light "cinnamon" brown. During this stage the moisture in the beans is expelled. Coffee beans will crack during the roasting process, not unlike popping popcorn. "First crack" and "second crack" are benchmarks that a roaster will use to gauge how the roast progresses. The beans will continue to darken and the oils will begin to be expelled to the surface until the beans are removed from the heat source.

At lighter roasts, the bean will exhibit more of its "origin flavor"—the flavors created in the bean by the soil and weather conditions in the location where it was grown. Coffee beans from famous regions like Java and Kenya are usually roasted lightly so their signature characteristics dominate the flavor. A roasting method native to the Ipoh town in Malaysia involves the inclusion of butter and sugar during the roasting process, producing a variety of roast known as the Ipoh "white" coffee.

As the beans darken to a deep brown, the origin flavors of the bean are eclipsed by the flavors created by the roasting process itself. At darker roasts, the "roast flavor" is so dominant that it can be difficult to distinguish the origin of the beans used in the roast. These roasts are sold by the degree of roast, ranging from "Vienna Roast" to "French Roast" and beyond. The dividing line between extremely dark roast and "burnt" is a matter of some debate. Contrary to popular belief, the darker roasts and more strongly flavored coffees do not deliver any more caffeine than lighter roasts. In the United States, major national coffee suppliers tailor their product to tastes in particular regions of the country; for instance, a can of ground coffee purchased in the northeast or northwest will contain a darker roast than an identically appearing can purchased in the central United States.

In the 19th century coffee was usually bought in the form of green beans and roasted in a frying pan. This form of roasting requires much skill to do well, and fell out of favor when vacuum sealing of pre-roasted coffee became possible. Today home roasting is becoming popular again. Computerized drum roasters are available which simplify home roasting, and some home roasters will simply roast in an oven or in air popcorn makers.

Because coffee emits CO2 for days after it is roasted, one must allow the coffee to degas before it can be packaged in sealed containers. For this reason, many roasters who package whole beans immediately after roasting do so in bags with one-way valves, allowing the CO2 to escape but nothing in. This CO2 also affects the flavor of the brewed coffee, and most experts recommend a two- to five-day "resting" period post-roast for the CO2 to sufficiently escape.

Once roasted, the volatile compounds that give coffee its complex flavors dissipate quickly. Despite the varying claims of "what is fresh" when it comes to coffee, the industry leaders in specialty coffee generally agree that roasted coffee should be ground and brewed no more than about 14 days off-the-roast. Some companies have tried to extend the freshness using a nitrogen-infusion system that flushes the inert gas into the roasted coffee, replacing the oxygen, ostensibly reducing oxidation. However, as is said in the coffee industry, "the proof is in the cup."


An old-fashioned manual coffee grinder
An old-fashioned manual coffee grinder

The fineness of the grounds has a major impact on the brewing process, and matching the consistency of the grind with the brewing method is critical to extracting the optimal amount of flavor from the roasted beans. Brewing methods which expose coffee grounds to heated water for a longer duration of time require a coarser grind than faster brewing methods. Beans which are too finely ground for the brewing method in which they are used will expose too much surface area to the heated water and produce a bitter, harsh, "over-extracted" taste. At the other extreme, an overly coarse grind will produce a weak, watery, under-flavored result.

The rate of deterioration increases when the coffee is ground, as a result of the greater surface area exposed to oxygen. With the rise of coffee as a gourmet beverage, it has become much more popular to grind the beans at home before brewing, and there are many home appliances available which are dedicated to the process.

There are two methods of producing coffee grounds ready for brewing.

  • Grinding: burr based with two revolving elements crushing or "tearing" the bean and with less risk of burning. Burr grinders can be either wheel or conical, with the latter being quieter and having less chance of clogging. Burr grinders "mill" the coffee to a reasonably consistent size, which produces a more even extraction when brewed. Coffee experts consider burr grinders to be the only acceptable way to grind coffee.
    • Conical Burr Grinders preserve the most aroma and can grind very fine and very consistently. The intricate design of the steel burrs allows a high gear reduction to slow down the grinding speed. The slower the speed, the less heat is imparted to the ground coffee, thus preserving maximum amount of aroma. Because of the wide range of grind settings, these grinders are ideal for all kinds of coffee equipment: Espresso, Drip, Percolators, French Press. The better Conical Burr Grinders can also grind extra fine for the preparation of Turkish coffee. Grinding speed is generally below 500 rpm.
    • Burr Grinders with disk-type burrs usually grind at a faster speed than conical burr grinders and as a result tend to create a bit more warmth in the coffee. They are the most economical way of getting a consistent grind in a wide range of applications. They are well suited for most home coffee preparation.
  • Chopping: Most modern "grinders" actually chop the bean into pieces (and some coffee drinkers merely use a home blender to do the job). Although enjoying a much longer life before wearing out the blades, the results are dramatically less effective in producing a homogenously ground result and, as a result, will create inconsistent extraction and a degraded product in the cup.
    • Blade Grinders “smash” the beans with a blade at very high speed (20,000 to 30,000 rpm). The ground coffee has larger and smaller particles and is warmer than ground coffee from burr grinders. Blade grinders create “coffee dust” which can clog up sieves in espresso machines and French presses. These type of grinders are (in theory) only suitable for drip coffee makers though even here the product is inferior as a result. They also can do a great job for grinding spices and herbs. They are not recommended for use with pump espresso machines.
  • Pounding: Turkish coffee is produced by infusion with grounds of almost powdery fineness. In the absence of a sufficiently high-quality burr grinder, the only reliable way to achieve this is to pound the beans in a mortar and pestle.


Coffee can be brewed in several different ways, but these methods fall into four main groups depending upon how the water is introduced to the coffee grounds. If the method allows the water to pass only once through the grounds, the resulting brew will contain mainly the more soluble components (including caffeine), whereas if the water is repeatedly cycled through the beans (as with the common percolator), the brew will contain more of the relatively less soluble compounds found in the bean; as these tend to be more bitter; that type of process is less favored by coffee aficionados.

Coffee in all these forms is made with coffee grounds (coffee beans that have been roasted and ground) and hot water, the grounds either remaining behind or being filtered out of the cup or jug after the main soluble compounds have been removed. The fineness of the grind required differs by the method of extraction.

Water temperature is crucial to the proper extraction of flavor from the ground coffee. The recommended brewing temperature of coffee is 93 ºC (204 ºF). Any cooler and some of the solubles that make up the flavor will not be extracted. If the water is too hot, some undesirable elements will be extracted, adversely affecting the taste, especially in bitterness.

  • Boiling: Despite the name, care should be taken not to actually boil the coffee (or at least not for too long) because that would make it bitter.
    • The simplest method is to put the ground coffee in a cup, pour hot water in it and let it stand to let it cool and let the ground sink to the bottom. One should not drink this to the end unless one wants to "eat" the ground coffee. The advantages of this method are that it is simple and that the water temperature is just right.
    • Turkish coffee was a very early method of making coffee and is still used in the Middle East, North Africa, East Africa, Turkey, and Greece. Water is placed together with very finely ground coffee in a narrow-topped pot, called an ibrik (Arabic), cezve (Turkish), briki (Greek), or dzezva (Serbo-Croatian), and allow it to briefly come to the boil. It is usually drunk sweet, in which case sugar is added to the pot and boiled with the coffee; it is also often flavored with cardamom. The result is imbibed in small cups of very strong coffee with a foam on the top and thick layer of sludgy grounds at the bottom of the cup, often referred to as the "mud".
    • "Cowboy coffee" is made by simply boiling coarse grounds with water in a pot, letting the grounds settle and pouring off the liquid to drink. While the name suggests that this method was derived or used by cowboys, presumably on the trail around a campfire, it is also frequently seen among others who do not drink coffee frequently and lack any specialized equipment for otherwise brewing.
  • Pressure:
    • Espresso is made with hot water at between 91°C (195°F) and 96°C (204°F) forced, under pressure between eight and nine atmospheres (800–900 kPa), through a tightly packed matrix of finely ground coffee. It can be served alone (often after an evening meal), and is the basis for many coffee drinks. It is one of the strongest tasting forms of coffee regularly consumed, with a distinctive flavor and crema, the emulsified oils in the form of a colloidal foam standing over the liquid.
    • A percolator (or mocha/moka pot) is a three-chamber design which boils water in the lower section and forces the boiling water through the separated coffee grounds in the middle section. The resultant coffee (almost espresso strength, yet without the crema) is collected in the upper section. It usually sits directly on a heater or stove. Some models feature a glass or plastic top to view the coffee as it is forced up.
    • A vacuum brewer consists of two chambers: a pot below, atop which is set a bowl or funnel with its siphon descending nearly to the bottom of the pot. The bottom of the bowl is blocked by a filter of glass, cloth or plastic, and the bowl and pot are joined by a gasket that forms a tight seal. Water is placed in the pot, the coffee grounds are placed in the bowl, and the whole affair is set over a burner. As the water heats, it is forced by the increasing vapor pressure up the siphon and into the bowl where it mixes with the grounds. When all the water possible has been forced into the bowl the brewer is removed from the heat. As the water vapor in the pot cools, it contracts, forming a partial vacuum and drawing the coffee down through the filter.
  • Gravity:
    • Drip brew (also known as filter or American coffee) is made by letting hot water drip onto coffee grounds held in a coffee filter (paper or perforated metal). Strength varies according to the ratio of water to coffee and the fineness of the grind, but is typically weaker than espresso.
    • The common electric percolator — which was almost universal prior to the 1970s, and is still popular today — differs from the pressure percolator described above. It uses the pressure of the boiling water to force it to a chamber above the grounds, but relies on gravity to pass the water down through the grounds, where it then repeats the process until shut off by an internal timer. The coffee produced is held in low esteem by coffee aficionados because of this multiple-pass process.
  • Steeping:
    • A cafetière (or French press) is a tall, narrow glass cylinder with a plunger that includes a filter. The coffee and hot water are combined in the cylinder (normally for four minutes) before the plunger, in the form of a metal foil, is depressed, leaving the coffee at the top ready to be poured. This style of "total immersion brewing" is considered by many coffee experts to be the ideal way to prepare fine coffee at home.
    • Coffee bags (akin to tea bags) are much rarer than their tea equivalents, as they are much bulkier (more coffee is required in a coffee bag than tea in a tea bag).
    • Malaysian coffee is often brewed using a "sock", which is really just a muslin bag shaped like a filter into which coffee is loaded then steeped into hot water. This method is especially suitable for use with local-brew coffees in Malaysia, which are often much stronger in flavor, allowing the ground coffee in the sock to be reused.

Electronic coffee makers boil the water and brew the infusion with little human assistance and sometimes according to a timer. Some even grind the beans automatically before brewing. Connoisseurs shun such conveniences as compromising the flavor of the coffee; they prefer freshly ground beans and traditional brewing techniques.


A cup of black coffee.
A cup of black coffee.
  • Black coffee is drip-brewed, percolated, vacuum brewed, or French-press-style coffee served without cream. Some add sugar.
  • White coffee is coffee with milk added. Some add sugar.
  • Cappuccino comprises equal parts espresso, steamed milk, and frothed milk, is occasionally garnished with spices or cocoa.
  • Latte (as it is known in the USA, Italian for "milk" - originally caffè e latte or café latte) is espresso with steamed milk, traditionally topped with frothed milk. A latte comprises one-third espresso and nearly two-thirds steamed milk. Less frothed milk makes it weaker than a cappuccino, and a traditional latte is served an average 10–20 degrees Celsius cooler than a black or white coffee or cappuccino.
  • Café au lait is similar to latte except that drip-brewed coffee is used instead of espresso, with an equal amount of milk. Some add sugar.
  • Americano style coffee is made with espresso (normally several shots) and hot water to give a similar strength (but different flavor) from drip-brewed coffee.
  • Iced coffee normally contains milk and sugar. Since sugar does not dissolve well in cold coffee, it is conventionally added while the coffee is hot. Iced coffee can also be an iced form of any drink in this list.
  • Flavored coffee: In some cultures, flavored coffees are common. Chocolate is a common additive that is either sprinkled on top or mixed with the coffee to imitate the taste of Mocha. Other flavorings include spices such as cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom, or Italian syrups. In the Maghreb, the orange blossom is used as a flavoring.
  • Mocha is a latte with chocolate added.
  • Macchiato - meaning little foam - is a double espresso with a small amount of steamed milk added to the top - usually 1-2 oz.
  • Irish coffee is hot brewed coffee spiked with whiskey and with a layer of cream on the top. Popular and easy to make, it is often served as an after-dinner drink. Irish Coffee is made with 1 and 1/2 ounces of Irish Whiskey, a cup of hot coffee, and optional whipped cream.
  • Indian (Madras) filter coffee, particularly common in southern India, is prepared off rough ground dark roasted coffee beans (e.g., Arabica, PeaBerry). The coffee is drip-brewed for a few hours in a traditional metal coffee filter before being served with milk and sugar. The ratio is usually 1/4 decoction, 3/4 milk.
  • Vietnamese-style coffee is another form of drip brew. In this form, hot water is allowed to drip though a metal mesh into a cup, and the resulting strong brew is poured into a glass containing sweetened condensed milk which may contain ice. Due to the high volume of coffee grounds required to make strong coffee in this fashion, the brewing process is quite slow. It is also highly popular in Cambodia and Laos.
  • Turkish coffee, also called Greek coffee or Armenian coffee (Surj), is served in very small cups about the size of those used for espresso. Traditional Turkish coffee cups have no handles, but modern ones often do. The crema or "face" is considered crucial, and since it requires some skill to achieve its presence is taken as evidence of a well-made brew. (See above for preparation method.) It is usually made sweet, with sugar added before the brew process begins, and often is flavored with cardamom or other spices. In many places it is customary to serve it with a tall glass of water on the side.
  • Kopi tubruk is an Indonesian-style coffee similar in presentation to Greek coffee. However, kopi tubruk is made from coarse coffee grounds, and is boiled together with a solid lump of sugar. It is popular on the islands of Java and Bali and their surroundings.
  • A demitasse is somewhat similar to an espresso without the crema: a small cup of strong black coffee often served after a meal.
  • Coffee pots come in many shapes and sizes. Traditional coloring uses brown or black colored pots for regular caffeinated coffee, and orange for decaffeinated coffee.
  • Brewed coffee continually heated will deteriorate rapidly in flavor; even at room temperature, deterioration will occur. However, if kept in an oxygen-free environment, it can last almost indefinitely at room temperature; sealed containers of brewed coffee are sometimes commercially available in food stores in America or Europe.
Frappé with milk.
Frappé with milk.
  • Thai iced coffee is a popular drink commonly offered at Thai restaurants in the United States. It consists of coffee, ice, and sweetened condensed milk.
  • Chocolate-covered roasted coffee beans are available as a confection; unless the beans have been decaffeinated, these will deliver the same caffeine content as brewed coffee and have the same physiological effects.
  • Frappé is a cold coffee drink made from instant coffee. It was created in Greece in 1957 in the city of Thessaloniki. This type of coffee is probably consumed in Greece more than traditional Greek coffee, especially in the spring and summer months. Frappé is served cold, with a drinking straw, either with or without sugar or milk.
  • Black Gold is a coffee drink made with 4 ounces of hot coffee, 1/4 ounce triple sec, Amaretto, Irish Cream liqueur, hazelnut liqueur, and 1 dash of cinnamon schnapps. This drink is topped with whipped cream and sprinkled with chocolate shavings. A cinnamon stick may also be added for additional flavoring.
  • Boston Caribbean Coffee is an alcoholic coffee drink made with 1 ounce Creme de Cacao (brown), 1 ounce dark rum, and hot coffee. The rim of the coffee cup should be dipped in lime juice and sugar. Sprinkle cinnamon and add a cinnamon stick for the finishing touches.
  • Caffe Di Amaretto is simply prepared with one ounce of Amaretto and a cup of hot coffee. It is topped with whipped cream.
  • Cafe L'Orange is a drink prepared with 1/2 ounce cognac, 1/2 ounce Cointreau, 1 ounce Mandarine Napoleon, and 4 ounces of hot coffee. For additional complements to the drink, whipped cream, and a cinnamon stick can be added.
  • Capriccio is a coffee drink that consists of 1 tbsp of sugar, 1/2 ounce brandy of choice, 1/2 ounce Creme de Cafe, 1 ounce of Amaretto, and hot coffee.
  • Baileys Irish Cream and coffee is a very popular drink, often served as an after dinner drink.
  • Chocolate Coffee Kiss is a coffee drink that contains 1/4 oz coffee liqueur, 1/4 oz Irish cream liqueur, 1 splash of Creme de Cacao (brown), 1 splash of Mandarine Napoleon, 1 and 1/2 oz chocolate syrup, and hot coffee.
  • Doublemint is a fairly popular coffee drink made with 1 ounce of spearmint schnapps, hot coffee, and 1 dash of Creme de Menthe (green). This drink can be finished with a topping of whipped cream and chocolate shavings.
  • Handicapper's Choice is a coffee drink that consists of Irish Whiskey and Amaretto, and of course, hot coffee.
  • Hot Kiss is an alcoholic coffee drink that includes Creme de Menthe (white), one ounce Irish Whiskey, 1/2 ounce Creme de Cacao (white), and of course hot coffee. It is best presented when it is topped with whipped cream and chocolate shavings.
  • Italian Coffee is a mixture of hot and cold temperatures. It consists of a 1/2 ounce of Amaretto, hot coffee, and 1 and 1/2 tablespoons of coffee ice cream.
  • Jamaican Coffee is an alcoholic coffee drink, served steaming with one ounce of coffee-flavored brandy and 3/4 ounce of light rum added to coffee.
  • Mexican Coffee of course contains a 1/2 ounce of the popular Mexican liqueur, Tequila. Along with the Tequila, there is one ounce of coffee liqueur and five ounces of hot coffee in a Mexican Coffee.
  • A Spanish Coffee is another very popular alcoholic coffee drink that is very easy to make. It just contains Spanish Brandy and hot coffee.
  • Frappuccino is a variation of iced coffee created by Starbucks. In addition to Starbucks, other stores use the name Frappuccino, but most of the larger Starbucks rivals (Such as Peet's) have their own names for the Frappuccino. One commonly used by many stores is Ice Storm. A frappuccino is an iced latte, mocha, or macchiato, but instead of ice cubes, they crush the ice, and blend it with the drink making it thicker.

Quick coffee

Instant coffee

Instant coffee
Instant coffee
See also: Instant coffee

Instant and soluble coffee has been dried into soluble powder or granules, which can be quickly dissolved in hot water for consumption. It is distinct from fresh coffee and is commercially prepared differently, by vigorous extraction of almost all soluble material from the ground roasted beans. This process naturally produces a different mix of components than home brewing; in particular, the percentage of caffeine in instant coffee is less, and undesirable bitter flavor components are more present. Due to the mass-production of instant coffee, lower grade beans may be used. Opinions on instant coffee range from "intolerable imposter" through "reasonable alternative" to "better than the real thing", and in some areas of the world it is seen as a sophisticated beverage popular in the United States due to the fact that it was the norm in American homes until the 1980s. Ironically, in some countries that export coffee it can be hard to get anything but instant coffee, possibly for this reason ("it's modern, therefore better"). Some varieties are freeze dried in an effort to maintain a flavor more similar to brewed coffee. In countries where it is popular, it is often referred to as "Café Puro" to the horror of coffee aficionados. Instant coffee is also convenient for preparing iced coffee, which is popular in warmer climates and/or hot seasons.

Canned and bottled coffee

Canned coffee is a beverage that has been popular in Asian countries for many years, particularly in Japan and South Korea. Vending machines typically sell a number of varieties of canned coffee, available both hot and cold. To match with the often busy life of Korean city dwellers, companies mostly have canned coffee with a wide variety of tastes. Japanese convenience stores and groceries also have a wide availability of plastic-bottled coffee drinks, which typically are lightly sweetened and pre-blended with milk. In the United States, Starbucks sells its popular Frappuccino drinks in glass bottles, a beverage consisting primarily of milk, coffee, sugar, and flavoring (like vanilla or caramel). They also sell a canned espresso drink, Double Shot, lightly sweetened and blended with cream. Other premade coffee drinks are also commercially available, but tend to be less popular.

Liquid coffee concentrate

Another type of premade coffee is liquid coffee concentrate. It is described as having a flavor about as good as low-grade robusta coffee. It costs about 10 cents a cup to produce. Its primary use is in large institutional situations where coffee needs to be produced for thousands of people at the same time. The machines used to process it can handle up to 500 cups an hour, or 1,000 if the water is preheated.[3]

Social aspects of coffee

See also: Coffeehouse for a social history of coffee, and caffé for specifically Italian traditions.

The United States is the largest market for coffee, followed by Germany. Finland consumes the most coffee per capita, an average of four to five cups a day. However, consumption has also vastly increased in the United Kingdom in recent years. Coffee is so popular in the Americas, the Middle East, and Europe that many restaurants specialize in coffee; these are called "coffeehouses" or "cafés". Most cafés also serve tea, sandwiches, pastries, and other light refreshments. Some cafés are miniature shacks that specialize in coffee-to-go for hurried travelers, who may visit these on their way to work as a substitute for breakfast. Some travelers transport their coffee in vacuum bottles, which can keep a beverage hot for hours.

In some countries, notably in northern Europe, coffee parties are a popular form of entertaining. Besides coffee, the host or hostess at the coffee party also serves cake and pastries, hopefully homemade.

Because of the stimulant properties of coffee and because coffee does not adversely impact higher mental functions, coffee is strongly associated with white collar jobs and office workers. Social habits involving coffee in offices include the morning chat over coffee and the coffee break. In recent years, contemporary advertising has shifted the sum of "breaks" plus coffee into a meaning, or function, of rest and relaxation. This is ironic in that, as stated earlier, coffee is a stimulant.

Coffeehouses also assumed a more prominent role as an American social gathering place in the 1990s. Television shows such as Friends (1994) and Frasier (1993) featured coffee houses as settings for many scenes; whereas in previous decades bars were seen as usual gathering places e.g., Cheers (1982).

In recent years, cafés have begun to offer wireless Internet (Wi-Fi) connectivity to attract customers. This has encouraged customers, especially from the working world, to relax over a cup of coffee and eat something while being able to check their e-mail and surf the Web all from the comfort of their seat.

See also dunk (biscuit) for the habit of dipping a biscuit (cookie) or cake into a coffee.

Economic aspects of coffee

Coffee is one of the world's most important primary commodities; it ranks second only to petroleum in terms of dollars traded worldwide. With over 400 billion cups consumed every year, coffee is the world's most popular beverage. Worldwide, 25 million small producers rely on coffee for a living. For instance, in Brazil alone, over 5 million people are employed in the cultivation and harvesting of over 3 billion coffee plants. The collapse of price support schemes in the 1980s and the entry of new producing countries (notably Vietnam) has led to world prices for raw coffee beans fluctuating wildly, reaching an all-time low (in constant dollars) in 2002.[4] Ironically, the decline in the ingredient cost of green coffee, while not the only cost component of the final cup being served, was paralleled by the rise in popularity of Starbucks and thousands of other specialty cafes, which sold their beverages at unprecedented high prices. Fairtrade labelling is becoming more popular in many developed countries, allowing consumers to ensure that co-operative producers receive a viable minimum price for their goods.


Coffee as a stimulant

Coffee contains caffeine, which acts as a stimulant. For this reason, it is often consumed in the morning, and during working hours. Students preparing for examinations with late-night "cram sessions" use coffee to maintain their concentration. Office workers take a "coffee break" whenever their energy is diminished.

Recent research has uncovered additional stimulating effects of coffee which are not related to the caffeine. Coffee contains an as yet unknown chemical agent which stimulates the production of cortisone and adrenaline, two stimulating hormones.

For occasions when one wants to enjoy the flavor of coffee with less stimulation, decaffeinated coffee (also called decaf) is available. This is coffee from which most of the caffeine has been removed, by the Swiss water process (which involves the soaking of raw beans to absorb the caffeine) or the use of a chemical solvent such as trichloroethylene ("tri"), or the more popular methylene chloride, in a similar process. Extraction with supercritical carbon dioxide has also been employed.

Decaffeinated coffee usually loses some flavor over normal coffees and tends to be more bitter. There are also tisanes that resemble coffee in taste but contain no caffeine (see below).

Caffeine dependence is widespread and withdrawal symptoms are real. See the caffeine article for more on the pharmacological effects of caffeine.


Coffee increases the effectiveness of pain killers—especially migraine medications—and can rid some people of asthma. Some of the beneficial effects may be restricted to one sex, for instance it has been shown to reduce the occurrence of gallstones and gallbladder disease in men. It also reduces the incidence of diabetes in both sexes, but reduces the risk by about 30% in women and over 50% in men. Coffee can also reduce the incidence of liver cirrhosis and prevent colon and bladder cancers. Coffee can reduce the risk of hepatocellular carcinoma, a variety of liver cancer (Inoue, 2005). Also, coffee reduces the incidence of heart disease, though whether this is simply because it rids the blood of excess fat or because of its stimulant effect is unknown. At the annual meeting of the American Chemical Society in Washington, D.C., on August 28, 2005, chemist Joe Vinson of the University of Scranton presented his analysis showing that for Americans, who as a whole do not consume large quantities of fresh fruits and vegetables, coffee represents by far the largest source of valuable antioxidants in the diet.[5]

Many people drink coffee for its ability to increase short term recall and increase IQ. It also changes the metabolism of a person so that their body burns a higher proportion of lipids to carbohydrates, which can help athletes avoid muscle fatigue.

Some of these health effects are realized by as little as 4 cups a day (24 U.S. fl oz, 700 mL), but others occur at 5 or more cups a day (32 U.S. fl oz or 0.95 L or more).

NOTE: Health benefits of decaffeinated coffee have not been found.


Caffeinism, a condition which mimics mental illnesses ranging from anxiety and bipolar disorder to schizophrenia and psychosis, is among the more worrisome effects of acute or chronic coffee consumption.

Many coffee drinkers are familiar with "coffee jitters", a nervous condition that occurs when one has had too much caffeine. Coffee can also increase blood pressure among those with high blood pressure, but follow-up studies showed that coffee still decreased the risk of dying from heart disease in the aggregate. Coffee can also cause insomnia in some, while paradoxically it helps a few sleep more soundly. It can also cause anxiety and irritability, in some with excessive coffee consumption, and some as a withdrawal symptom. There are also gender-specific effects, in some PMS sufferers it increases the symptoms, and it can reduce fertility in women, also it may increase the risk of osteoporosis in postmenopausal women, and there may be risks to a fetus if a pregnant woman drinks 8 or more cups a day (48 U.S. fl oz or 1.4 L or more).

A February 2003 Danish study of 18,478 women linked heavy coffee consumption during pregnancy to significantly increased risk of stillbirths (but no significantly increased risk of infant death in the first year). "The results seem to indicate a threshold effect around four to seven cups per day," the study reported. Those who drank eight or more cups a day (48 U.S. fl oz or 1.4 L) were at 220% increased risk compared with nondrinkers. This study has not yet been repeated, but has caused some doctors to caution against excessive coffee consumption during pregnancy.

Decaffeinated coffee is occasionally regarded as a potential health risk to pregnant women, due to the high incidence of chemical solvents used to extract the caffeine. These concerns have almost no basis, however, as the solvents in question evaporate at 80–90 °C, and coffee beans are decaffeinated before roasting, which occurs at approximately 200 °C. As such, these chemicals, namely trichloroethane and methylene chloride, are present in trace amounts at most, and neither pose a significant threat to unborn children. Women still worried about chemical solvents in decaffeinated coffee should opt for beans which use the Swiss water process, where no chemicals other than water are used, although higher amounts of caffeine remain.

The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition published a study in 2004 which tried to discover why the beneficial and detrimental effects of coffee are conflicting. The study concluded that consumption of coffee is associated with significant elevations in biochemical markers of inflammation. This is a detrimental effect of coffee on the cardiovascular system, which may explain why coffee has so far only been shown to help the heart at levels of four cups (20 fl oz or 600 mL) or fewer per day.

Caffeine is toxic in high enough doses. It is impossible though, that a toxic dose will be ingested in the form of common drinks. The LD50 of caffeine is estimated to be 150–200 mg per kilogram, equaling roughly 140–180 cups of coffee (i.e., 3–4 gallons, or 11–15 L) for an average adult, and consumed within a very limited timeframe. In concentrated forms, such as pills or powders, it can be taken in sufficient quantities to cause vomiting, unconsciousness, and even death. A single box of caffeine pills can be fatal if taken at once.

The health risks of decaffeinated coffee have been studied, with varying results. One variable is the type of decaffeination process used; while some involve the use of organic solvents which may leave residual traces, others rely on steam.

A study has shown that cafestol, a substance which is present in boiled coffee drinks, dramatically increases cholesterol levels, especially in women. Filtered coffee only contains trace amounts of cafestol.

Coffee as a fertilizer

Spent coffee grounds are a good fertilizer in gardens because of their high nitrogen content. Coffee grounds also contain potassium, phosphorus, and many other trace elements that aid plant development. Many gardeners report that roses love coffee grounds and when furnished with the same become big and colorful. When added to a compost pile, spent coffee grounds compost very rapidly.

Coffee grounds can be obtained inexpensively (usually free) from local coffee shops. Large coffee shop chains may have a policy of composting coffee grounds or giving them away to those who ask.

Coffee substitutes

Coffee as an artistic medium

See also


  1. ^ "Coffee is the second most widely traded commodity in the world (behind petroleum)", checked on 06:05, 18 Jun 2005 (UTC)
  2. ^ "Vietnam has played a major role in the increase of global coffee supply", "Nearly all coffee grown in Vietnam is of the Robusta variety"
  3. ^  regarding liquid coffee concentrate: Wall St. Journal, March 21st, 2005, page C4, Commodities Report


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