Photo: Flickr – filmvanalledag
Coffee is more than popular: it’s ubiquitous. No other beverage is as revered or respected. It can be seen in offices, during commutes, and on kitchen counter tops worldwide.Coffee exporting alone is a $20 billion dollar industry, mostly consumed by industrialized nations while being produced by the world’s underclass. It’s so beloved today, you would never know drinking coffee once carried the death penalty.
Arabica and robusta are the two main commercially grown and sold coffee beans.
Arabica is the more common type of bean grown (70 per cent of coffee is Arabica), and it's considered more flavorful. Robusta is hardier and cheaper, most commonly seen in instant coffee jars.
'Fair trade' coffee was instituted to provide growers with better conditions and a higher cut of the profit.
Under fair trade rules, the coffee importer has a direct relationship with the grower, and pays more to maintain that relationship. Prices fluctuate, but most recently coffee farmers in fair trade cooperatives got $1.26/pound for their Arabica coffee, while regular coffee prices were around $0.70 to $0.90.
Companies like Starbucks, Dunkin' doughnuts and McDonald's all carry fair trade coffee.
According to the World Wildlife Fund, of the 50 countries with the highest deforestation rates from 1990 to 1995, 37 were coffee producers
Coffee was traditionally grown in the shade. In order to increase yields, outside organisations pushed growers towards planting their crops in the sun.
New techniques include using chemicals and chopping down forests, which allow for greater output but diminish the coffee's taste and ruin the habitats of the surround fauna.
As a side note, 'shade-grown' or 'bird-friendly' coffee is now marked up and sold at a premium.
Coffee wasn't always so popular. Originally discovered in Ethiopia, coffee has been banned in places like Cairo, Egypt and Turkey, where repeated offenders were allegedly sewn into a leather bag and tossed into the ocean.
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