Title: The Benevolent Bean: A Closer Look at Coffee
Thesis Statement: Coffee helps not only the drinkers because of health benefits; it also provides jobs for millions of people around the world.
“Black as the devil, hot as hell, pure as an angel, sweet as love,” is the recipe for coffee according to a French statesman, Talleyrand. Coffee has really gone a long way from its humble origins in Ethiopia, where it was discovered by Kaldi, a goatherd dating back to Circa A.D. 800. Legend has it that Kaldi noticed his herd dancing from one shrub to another, grazing on the cherry-red berries containing the beans. He ate a few and was soon frolicking with his flock (National Geographic website).
Coffee Statistics Worldwide
Now facing the challenges of the 21st century, coffee outnumbered its opponents as it is now the most popular drink worldwide with over 500 billion cups consumed each year, not considering water, of course. It is the second most traded commodity globally, ranking next to petroleum. Brazil is the largest coffee exporting nation, but Vietnam is heating up the competition by being the major producer of Robusta beans. Over 8 pounds of coffee is grown in 50 countries, providing jobs for more than 25 million people around the world, according to the coffeeperks website.
How Coffee is produced
Exactly how do these 25 million people benefit from having their livelihood supported by the coffee industry? It all starts in the soil and the planting method is detailed in the just about coffee website. Coffee can grow on volcanic, alluvial and sand types of soil. It must be deep to contain 1 to 2 meters of the roots. Spread by seed, the conventional method is to put twenty seeds in each hole at the start of the rainy season. These could either be of the Coffea canephora (commonly called the robusta) or Coffea Arabica species. The coffee tree can survive for about fifty to seventy years, flowering about eight times a year. The first flowers don’t show until the third year though. These flowers form little tufts made up of 8 to 15 elements, and produce the same number of berries. These berries ripen over nine months. The ideal harvesting time is when the berries are red, and inside each berry lay two precious beans. On the average, the pickers can gather between 100 to 200 pounds of coffee cherries a day. Obviously the work is done manually, from the planting to the harvesting. If 42 beans are needed to make a cup of espresso, imagine how many hands, how long the hours and how hard the work just to provide for a student who decides to order an espresso so that he/she is able to utilize the wi-fi services of a coffee shop! There is much to thank, but this is just the beginning.
Health Benefits from Coffee
The Americans, the French and the German must be grateful to the coffee farmers who earn as little as 4 cents a pound for the coffee they pick by hand, since these nationalities are the biggest coffee drinkers, consuming 65% of the world’s total consumption. So what is it in coffee that attracts me and over a hundred billion others? Oh, it must be caffeine! Caffeine is known medically as trimethylxanthine, used as a cardiac stimulant, mild diuretic and as a bronchodilator. Recreationally it is used to provide a boost of energy by tricking the nerve cells to take it instead of adenosine (the nucleoside responsible for sleep), hence the stimulation (Marshall Brain). Aside from improving mental performance and elevating mood, drinking coffee has other benefits too. Coffee has more fiber than orange juice and antioxidants too. It keeps our mouth moist, thus avoiding xerostomia. And a lot of studies conducted showed that coffee appears to reduce the risk of the following diseases:
o Alzheimer’s disease
o Parkinson’s disease
o heart diseases
o Diabetes Mellitus type
o Liver cirrhosis
But the good stuff has to end at some point. There is now what doctors call caffeine intoxication. The normal caffeine consumption should only be 250 mg or 2 ½ cups a day. A single cup of coffee (around 7 oz) offers the following caffeine content, according to the book Psychiatric Nursing made easy:
But take note that coffee isn’t the only beverage that has caffeine. Tea and carbonated drinks have caffeine as well.
I’ve laid down the simplest facts about coffee. Now as you drink that venti Caramel Frappuccino that probably cost you your day’s allowance, thank the manual laborers who receive only ¼ of what you paid for, thank Kaldi, the goatherd who allegedly discovered coffee and thank caffeine for outwitting adenosine.
Brain, Marshall. (01 April 2000) How Caffeine Works. HowStuffWorks.com. Retrieved July 9, 2008, from <http://health.howstuffworks.com/caffeine.htm.
Diehl, T. S., et al. (2004). Psychiatric Nursing Made Incredibly Easy. Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.
H&R/SunBelt Coffee. (2004). Facts about Coffee: History. In Coffee Perks. Retrieved July 9, 2008, from http://www.coffeeperks.com/history.html.
Just About Coffee and Kolb. (2007). The Coffee Tree. In Just About Coffee. Retrieved July 9, 2008, from http://www.justaboutcoffee.com/index.php?file=coffeetree.
National Geographic Society. (1999). Coffee Talk. In National Geographic. Retrieved July 9, 2008, from http://www.nationalgeographic.com/coffee/talk.html.
 Charles Maurice De Talleyrand was an aristocrat and revolutionary now regarded as one of the most influential diplomats in European history for his domination.
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