Thursday, March 25, 2010

Coffee Facts

Did you know that coffee beans are the seeds of a fruit similar to a cherry? Did you know that most of the world's coffee is grown by small-scale coffee farming families? Coffee is actually the world's second most traded commodity, taking a backseat only to petroleum, with the coffee market earning nearly sixty billion dollars annually. The importance of coffee in the world cannot be denied; here are some coffee facts and statistics that coffee aficionados may not even know.

Coffee trees can only be grown where there is no winter frost. Many varieties of coffee plant exist, but only two are cultivated: the Arabica, and the Robusta. The Arabica is considered to be the best quality, but can only be grown above an altitude of 2000 feet, while the Robusta can grow below. It takes three to five years for a coffee tree to reach maturity; in one year, the average yield from a single tree is approximately one roasted pound of coffee. Coffee cherries usually contain two beans, except for the single peaberry anomaly. The peaberry is considered the 'caviar' of coffees in some regions, while other regions discard the peaberry as below-grade product.

Coffee is grown in over fifty-three countries worldwide, all of them located near the equator between the tropic of Cancer and Capricorn. Brazil is the largest coffee producing region, with around 30% of total world output of coffee. Colombia ranks second. Nearly seven million tons of green coffee beans are produced each year worldwide, and the majority of those are hand-picked beans. Coffee farmers earn as little as four cents per pound for these hand-picked beans; for every pound of gourmet coffee sold, small-coffee farmers earn just over twelve cents. The fair trade movement is aimed at redistributing profits so that these farmers receive a decent wage for their hard work. No coffee is grown in the United States or its territories except in Hawaii and Puerto Rico.

Today, US coffee drinkers consume approximately 3.1 cups per day on average, with the cup size being nine ounces. Fifty-two percent of Americans over the age of eighteen drink coffee every morning, and on top of that, thirty percent of the population drinks coffee occasionally, meaning that over eighty percent of Americans consume coffee. Sixty-five percent of consumers add sweetener. On average, coffee drinkers will spend $164.71 per year on coffee, and coffee drinkers that get a cup to go from a local coffeehouse before work will wait in line nearly forty-five hours each year! Coffee is the leading source of caffeine consumption in the United States, and is the world's second most popular drink after water. Men and women have similar coffee habits, both consuming the same amount of coffee each day, but with different reasons for doing so. While women indicate that coffee is a good way to relax, men say that coffee helps them get their job done. Generally, women are more concerned about the price of coffee than men.

Of the one hundred million US daily coffee drinkers, thirty million drink specialty beverages such as lattes, cappuccinos, and mochas. The average price for these espresso drinks is nearly twice that of a regular brewed coffee. As the consumption of these specialty drinks rises (it does each year), more and more coffee shops will begin to sprout up throughout the United States. It has been projected that there will be 50,000+ coffee shops nationwide by 2010.

While many of us enjoy it each morning, we know very little about coffee facts and statistics - like where a coffee bean comes from! You now can impress your friends with your coffee trivia expertise.

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