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Coffee: Facts And Stories I

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January 9, 2010 Coffee, Food & Drink No Comments

Coffee is so central to italian lifestyle (and physical and mental health, probably), that we have no shame devoting yet another post to this invigorating beverage. Please find our earlier post on the art, culture, and variations of coffee in Italy (complete with a directory of legitimate coffee varieties) here – and more coffee-related wisdom in the form of ten commandments here.

l lady morning coffee rome Coffee: Facts And Stories I

A lady with her morning coffee in Rome

During a coffee break (obviously!) we have collected a few surprising and even amusing facts and stories about coffee:

  • Coffee is brewed from the seeds of coffee cherries, which grow on trees.

Really? I always thought… Oh, never mind.

  • Coffee was proclaimed sacrosanct by the Vatican, when – in 1600 – Pope Clement VIII was petitioned by priests to ban coffee, which they called “the devil’s drink”. The Pope tried a cup, liked it and proclaimed it “so delicious that it would be a pity to let the infidels have exclusive use of it.” He went on, “We shall cheat Satan by baptizing it.”

Wow. This adds a whole new dimension to breakfast.

  • The first European coffee house opened in Italy in 1645.

What can I say… we knew it!

  • The price of coffee has declined over the past decades, selling at well over 100 US cent/lb during the 1970s and 1980s, but then dropping during the late 1990s, and reaching a minimum in September 2001 of just 41.17 US cent per lb and staying low since.

This appears to be partially due to the collapse of the International Coffee Agreement of 1975-1989 with Cold War pressures. Once upon a time, these beans were very well connected.

And, finally…

  • There is an “International Coffee Organization”.

Are you surprised? Amused? Let us know in the comments.

Sources: New Partisan, Wikipedia (Coffee), Wikipedia (Economics of Coffee), International Coffee Organisation.

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