With so many tall-tales surrounding the origins of coffee and its benefits, we’d thought we’d set the record straight. It’s time to wake up and smell the (coffee) truth! Here are 5 common coffee myths debunked:
- Kaldi the goat herder was the first person to discover coffee
The origin of coffee has been debated time and again, but one of the most commonly believed stories is Kaldi the goat herder. Legend has it that a goat herder in 850 AD Abyssinia (now known as Ethiopia) found his goats eating red berries and leaves off of an unfamiliar tree. Noticing that the goats were extremely energetic, he decided to try them himself. Seeing a similar spike in his energy levels, Kaldi supposedly showed them to an Islamic monk, who proceeded to throw them in the fire in disapproval. However, a delicious aroma came from the roasting berries in the fire, and so they decided to make a hot beverage out of them for the monks to drink to stay awake during prayer.
While many would like to believe this romanticised tale of the origin of coffee to be true, there is no hard evidence that backs it up. Despite this story coinciding with the popular belief that coffee originated in Ethiopia, many contest it and even argue that coffee originated in Yemen way before Kaldi supposedly discovered it.
2. Coffee is the second most traded commodity in the world
Many people have claimed coffee to be the second most traded commodity in the world, including Starbucks’ Director of Public Policy. However, it is impossible to compare oil and metal trade with coffee trade, purely based on the size of their respective global markets. The coffee market, according to the International Institute for Sustainable Development, was worth approximately US$23bn in 2017, which was only 1/4 of what the copper and oil markets were worth.
While in the 1970s coffee used to be one of the top traded commodities, it is no longer the case today.
3. Coffee should be stored in the fridge for prolonged freshness
You will often find on coffee packaging that it recommends you placing your opened bag in the fridge to prolong the freshness and taste of the coffee. However, this will actually do more harm than good to your coffee! When green beans are roasted, they lose moisture and create sugar through caramelisation. Because the beans are now low on moisture, they are more susceptible to absorbing water from their external environment.
Because fridges have a lot of moisture, storing your coffee in them actually results in the coffee being partially brewed before you even get to brewing it yourself, and therefore will go stale a lot quicker. You’re better off storing your coffee in a cool, dry and dark place in your kitchen to prolong freshness.
4. Coffee will cure your hangover
We’ve all been there – waking up the day after a wild night out, head pounding and all you can think of is coffee to make you feel human again. While you may feel a lot better after your morning brew, we’re sorry to say that coffee isn’t necessarily a hangover cure. Caffeine cannot reverse or alter your blood alcohol concentration, and so although it can mask tiredness and depleted energy levels it won’t sober you up.
Ultimately, a hangover is the result of your body being extremely dehydrated and so coffee unfortunately will not fix this. Rehydrating through copious amounts of water and water-rich foods will do the trick.
5. The darker the roast, the stronger the coffee
Last but not least is the common belief that the darker the roast, the stronger the coffee. While many coffee experts have anecdotally noticed slight differences in caffeine levels between light and dark roasts, the caffeine chemical stays stable throughout the roasting process. Temperatures would have to exceed 315°C for any significant difference to occur, but roasting coffee rarely exceeds 250°C so you wouldn’t be able to notice any significant change in strength.