In the modern world and almost everywhere in the world, it has become a tradition for people to take coffee as a beverage. However, different people have different perception on coffee and the purpose for taking coffee differ from one group of people to another. Coffee is beverage drink made from ground red cherries or coffee beans. Biologically, coffee beans or cherries grow from a plant belonging to a genus known as coffea which was fist discovered in Africa. Coffee is also one of the major traded commodities in the global market, and in some countries, it is the major contributor to the economy’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) The origin of coffee is said to be Kaffa province in Ethiopia. According to International Coffee Organization (n.d), it was discovered by a shepherd named Kaldi who noticed his goats behaving excitedly after consuming red berries from a shrub, and reported the matter to the monk who boiled and tested the same only to discover that it had a stimulating effect that made one sleepless and energetic. From there, it was introduce to Yemen and Arabian Peninsula where it was cultivated for the first time in 1100 A.D. Its spread was facilitated by the Arabic traders, who voyaged along the Mediterranean Sea and introduced it to Europe through Italy in 16th century (Bellis n.d). It then spread to Asia and South American countries, thanks to Dutch, Spanish and Portuguese traders, with Brazil cultivating it for the first time in the 18th century.
Since then, the crop has spread widely and today is one of the major exports in South America, South Asia and Eastern Africa. According to Bellis (n.d), the journey of coffee discovery has not been that smooth as it always faced hostilities from religious organs, with some devoted Muslims and some fanatical Christians resisting its spread at different times. Bellis (n.d) points out that, it is only after intervention of the Pope that coffee gained its entry in Italy. There are two major varieties to coffee: Arabica and Robusta. The two varieties differ depending on their origin, caffeine content, and shape of berries, environmental orientation and taste. Arabica coffee, with elongated berries, originated from Arabia and it is the dominant variety controlling more than half of the total world output. It thrives well in mineral rich soil, has a sharp taste and contains a relatively low level of caffeine. The crop thrives well in high altitude areas (1800-6300 feet) of equatorial and subtropical regions with relatively high rainfall levels. On the other hand coffee Robusta originated from Congo in Africa and thrives well in low altitude areas (up to about 3000 feet above sea level) of Africa, and Asia. It is highly resistant to parasites, has rounded berries and contains a high level of caffeine making it have a rather bitter taste.
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Therefore the variety has a rather inferior flavor to Arabica variety. Coffee production has been commercialized thanks to technology. The words highest producer of coffee is the Central and South America region accounting to about 65% of total world output followed by Asia with 25% and Africa coming last with 10%. According to International Coffee Organization (ICO) statistics, in 2008, Brazil led the pack as the highest producer of coffee with a production of about 17 million bags, followed by Vietnam with 16 million bags, Colombia with 10 million bags and Ethiopia with 6 million bags. Other high producing countries are Indonesia, Mexico India and Peru. The same statistics show that Arabica coffee exports are about twice the Robusta export. According to the ICO statistics the major importing countries are USA, Japan, Germany, Italy and France. Italy on its part was the first to introduce coffeehouses in the 17th century and has been the genesis of various coffee flavors. The various coffee flavors available in the world today are espresso, cappuccino, and latte. The importance of coffee can not be over emphasized. May it be in health, economy or otherwise, coffee has affected the lives of many people either directly or indirectly. On the economic side of it, coffee has been the major foreign exchange earner for many countries. In fact, coffee export trade is the second largest after petroleum. Many families depend on coffee for their upkeep through farming, trading or employment in commercialized coffee estates. There are various health related benefits associated with coffee consumption. Coffee contains caffeine which has effects in the body’s nervous system. Caffeine is a stimulant which makes a person feels alert, awake and able to concentrate. Most long distance truck drivers or persons working late at night prefer taking coffee to enable the concentrate on their tasks and keep them awake all the time. Caffeine in coffee is also said to counter cases of diabetes due to its effect on body weight and blood circulation. Taking coffee regularly increases the blood pressure (though this may result to hypertension) and circulation leading to increased activity of the heart. The increased activity requires energy consumption leading to weight loss and as a result diabetes cases may not arise. Medical practitioners may prescribe that the patients should take some coffee as a one of the means to maintain body of fitness. Another effect of coffee is the increase in the rate of lipid metabolism in the body. This occurs when the caffeine in coffee increase thermogenetic effect in the body which in turn helps oxidize fats in the body. The oxidization of fat leads to reduction of fats in the body and weight loss.
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