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In recent years, coffee has become the drink to be seen with, particularly in its takeaway incarnation, with plenty of variations and a wide range of different flavours to choose from.

But even though practically everyone has heard of coffee, there is still plenty more to learn about it in terms of its origins, cultivation or fair trade credentials, for example.

The first question has to be: what is coffee?
Coffee is defined as a caffeinated hot drink, black in colour, which is made from roasted and ground coffee beans. The degrees of roast and grind can vary according to the method of preparation used. Coffee substitutes made from barley, malt, rye or chicory are also available in addition to real coffee.

Today, coffee is cultivated in over 50 countries around the world, with 70% of all coffee being grown on small farms. The most significant buyer countries are Germany, France and Italy, as well as the USA and Japan.

Coffee is not a thirst quencher in the traditional sense: coffee drinkers are much more interested in benefiting from its stimulating and invigorating effect. The caffeine present in coffee stimulates the brain, heart and circulation, and also improves performance in the short term. However, the caffeine content of different drinks does vary.

Caffeine content of different drinks:

Drink                   Volume per cup       Caffeine content per cup


Filter coffee                           125 ml                            60 – 100 mg

Espresso                                 50 ml                              50 – 60 mg

Decaffeinated                        125 ml                                  1 – 4 mg 
filter coffee

But coffee can not only be drunk. The beans can also be eaten whole or used in baking cakes and making chocolates. Roasted coffee beans can be chewed too. Various different types are available to buy, including coffee beans coated in chocolate, for example. Coffee beans can be pulverised and used in cakes, gateaux, ice cream and chocolates.

You will find more information about coffee here:
Origins and history | Cultivation & harvesting | Arabica & robusta:
A comparison
| Preparation | Fair trade | Storage

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