coffee facts: sunny latte on a table
Coffee Basics

19 Surprising Coffee Facts To Perk You Up

coffee facts: sunny latte on a table

For many of us, a morning starts by pouring a steaming hot cup of coffee into our favorite mugs. It’s almost like autopilot. You wake up, stretch, and head to the kitchen first thing to brew the caffeinated elixir. Oftentimes we do it without thinking — after all, we can’t do our best thinking without that jolt of caffeine!

But there’s a lot more that goes into a cup of coffee. That’s why we’ve put together this list of coffee facts. From what it is — it’s not actually a bean — to fun facts you can use at your next trivia night, you’re sure to learn something new about your favorite beverage.

19 Coffee Facts You May Not Know 

steaming coffee bean surrounded by coffee grounds

Think you know everything there is to know about coffee? Check out this list of coffee facts and see if you learn something new. If you’re new to the coffee world, you’ll discover fun tidbits that make drinking java even more enjoyable.

1. It’s a Seed, Not a Bean

Coffee beans aren’t true legumes. They are the pits, or seeds, inside the cherries of the coffee Coffea plant — also known as coffee berries. There are usually two seeds inside the coffee cherry, but on some occasions, there will only be one seed — this is called peaberry coffee. We call them beans since they look similar to other legumes like lima beans, but they are in fact seeds.

2. Cappuccinos Are Named After Monks

Well technically, they get their name from the Capuchin friars’ clothes not the actual friars themselves. At the time, Capuchin monks wore dark brown robes with long pointed hoods that draped down the back. The color of coffee mixed with frothed milk in a cappuccino looked very similar to the color of the robes. The name stuck and is used to this day for the popular beverage. 

Many coffee names come from the Italian language. Espresso derives from the Italian word meaning “pressed out” and Caffe macchiato translates to “stained coffee” referring to the splash of milk.

3. There are Four Types (But Two Are the Most Popular)

There are technically four types of coffee beans — liberica, excelsa, arabica, and robusta — with the latter two being the most common. Arabica coffee beans are of higher quality, have lower acidity, and provide the best flavor, but they are also more susceptible to drought and disease. Robusta beans are hardier and easier to grow but offer less nuanced flavor profiles.

4. Brazil is the Largest Coffee Producing Country

This is one of the most widely known coffee facts. Brazil produces close to one-third of the world’s coffee. Vietnam ranks second, followed by Colombia. The largest producer in Africa is Uganda. 

5. There Are Only Two US States That Produce Coffee

While the US is known for exporting computer and petroleum products, they’re not known for coffee production. That’s mainly because only two states in America produce coffee. The most recognized is Hawaii thanks to Kona coffee. The high-altitude and volcanic soils in Hawaii are ideal for growing coffee and offer a light, sweet, and nutty flavor.

California is new to the game, with coffee productions starting around 20 years ago, mainly on the Central Coast. Today, there are more than 70 farmers cultivating over 100,000 coffee plants in the state. Most of these coffees are craft coffees and they tend to be pricier than large producers.

6. The Pope “Baptized” Coffee

We told you this list might surprise even the savviest coffee fans. According to legend, coffee was discovered by a goat herder in Ethiopia back in 850. The Ethiopian noticed that his goats liked to eat a specific cherry and seemed to get an energy boost from it. One day, he decided to try the cherry himself. He was so intrigued by the effects, that he brought the cherry to the Islamic monastery where experimentation developed the first cup of coffee. 

Coffee consumption spread throughout the Middle East, with many consuming the drink like alcohol and tobacco. The drink would eventually be banned in many places including Mecca as it was considered “the devil’s drink”.

During the reign of Pope Clement III, members of the clergy wanted to denounce coffee. Before making a decision, the Pope insisted on trying the beverage. His response was “this Satan’s drink is so delicious that it would be a pity to let the infidels have exclusive use of it.” Stories say that the Pope “baptized coffee” — whether he actually performed the rite or simply gave it his approval is unclear according to historians. Either way, it paved the path for coffee to be widely consumed in the West. 

7. The Largest Cup of Coffee Was More Than 3,000 Gallons

There’s a Guinness World Record for everything these days. When it comes to the largest cup of coffee, the winner filled a nine-foot-tall mug with 3,487 gallons of the caffeinated elixir. It was created by Alcaldia Municipal de Chinchiná in Colombia in 2019.

8. The Average American Spends More Than $1,000 on Coffee Each year

According to Renolon, the average American coffee drinker spends $1,097 each year on coffee. That equates to around $3 per day, though many Americans spend more than that if they get their jolt of java from coffee houses like Starbucks each morning.

9. The World’s Most Expensive Coffee Costs $100 to $600 Per Pound

The world’s most expensive coffee is kopi luwak from Indonesia— a type of Bali coffee. It’s a beverage made from coffee beans that are eaten and then excreted by Asian palm civet cats. Harsh production methods have drawn criticism from animal welfare groups. If drinking ground-up seeds found in cat poop isn’t enough to make you skip this one, maybe the ethics will. 

10. Finland Consumes the Most Coffee in the World

While Brazil produces most of the world’s coffee, the Finnish are the ones consuming it. There are only two countries where coffee drinkers consume more than 22 pounds of coffee per capita each year: Sweden and Finland. In Finland, the average adult consumes more than 2.5 pounds of coffee each year. 

11. The Word “Coffee” Comes From Arabic

The western term “coffee” is derived from the Arabic word “qahwah” which meant “wine of the bean”. This word later became “kahveh” in Turkish and then “koffie” in Dutch before becoming “coffee” in the western world.

12. George Washington Invented Instant Coffee

Not that George Washington. While the President made history, it wasn’t for brewing a wicked cup of coffee. The George Washignton that invented instant coffee, is a Belgian national who experimented with coffee while living in Guatemala. After discovering dried coffee grounds in his cup, he created Red E. Coffee — the first mass-marketed instant coffee in 1909.

13. The Average Barista in Italy is 48 Years Old

In America, being a barista is often a great first job. Across the pond in Italy, being a barista is a well-respected, life-long career. Making coffee is considered an art form and passion, making it a great choice for turning your coffee love into a career.

14. Beethoven Would Make Any Barista Crazy

Speaking of baristas, if you ever had the pleasure of serving Beethoven, you’d probably want to rip your hair out. You see, Beethoven loved coffee so much that he had it down to a science. Each cup he drank had to have exactly 60 beans in it.

15. The First Webcam Watched a Cup of Coffee

Today, webcams are action-packed, but it wasn’t always that way. Researchers at Cambridge developed a webcam after finding that they’d head to the Trojan Room (where the coffee pot was kept) only to find it empty. The webcam was used by employees to check in on the pot (images were taken three times every minute) before heading up to grab a cup of Joe. The famous pot would alter sell for $5000 on eBay.

16. Light Roast Coffee Has the Most Caffeine

Many people think dark roast coffee offers the most caffeine. In reality, light roast coffee is stronger than dark roast in terms of caffeine.

17. Brazil’s Olympic Athletes Sold Coffee To Pay Their Way

Before 1932, the Brazil Olympic team couldn’t afford to attend the Olympics on their own. The government stepped in and sent them on a ship full of coffee. Along the way, the athletes sold coffee to pay for their journey.

18. Not Having Enough Coffee Was Grounds for Divorce

In the 16th century in Constantinople, if you did not provide enough coffee for your wife, she had legal grounds for divorce. Today, that would probably fall under the “cruel and inhumane treatment” grounds.

19. Decaf Coffee Still Has Caffeine

It’s impossible for coffee to truly be caffeine-free. That’s because caffeine occurs naturally in the plant and is necessary for the plant’s growth and survival. Decaf coffee undergoes a process that removes a large portion of the caffeine, but it still has around 2 milligrams of caffeine.

Smarten Up With a Tasty Cup of Coffee

woman reading coffee facts while drinking a cup of Joe

From the largest coffee producers to their origins on the Arabian peninsula, coffee is a fascinating thing. With these coffee facts, you’re sure to have learned a fun new tidbit or discovered a new way to appreciate drinking coffee.

If you’re a coffee lover, continue browsing our blog. Here, you’ll find all sorts of fun coffee stuff from brewing guides to fun facts, recipes, and more. You’ll also find guides to the best coffee gear and health benefits of coffee as well as tips for ordering your java from coffee shops around the globe.

After chasing down everything there was to know about tea on the Cup & Leaf blog, I'm now exploring the world of coffee. From different types to countries with the best brews and everything in between, I'll be your guide on this coffee discovery.