Cof­fee — an old in­spi­ra­tion whose buzz is only grow­ing

The Washington Post Sunday - - TAKING STOCK - BY CHRISTO­PHER IN­GRA­HAM AND ROBERTO A. FERDMAN wonkblog@wash­

Cof­fee, the bit­ter be­gin­ning to so many morn­ings, has been en­joyed since at least the 13th cen­tury when the first roasted cof­fee was served. To­day some­where up­ward of 2 bil­lion cups each day go down. So who drinks it? And how much? The Dutch, the world’s big­gest drinkers, down al­most 21/2 cups per day on av­er­age, ac­cord­ing to mar­ket re­search firm Euromon­i­tor. Amer­i­cans are 16th, at less than a cup each day (way down from 1946, when Amer­i­can con­sump­tion peaked at two cups a day).

The rise in cof­fee shops such as Star­bucks and Dunkin’ Donuts has pop­u­lar­ized pre­pared cof­fee drinks, like Frap­puc­ci­nos and chai tea lat­tes, par­tic­u­larly among Amer­ica’s youths. Al­most half of all young adults, ages 18 to 35, say that they buy such a con­coc­tion at least once a week.

The fastest-grow­ing seg­ment of the cof­fee in­dus­try is the pod busi­ness, and it’s not even close, driven in the United States by Keurig. One way to mea­sure that as­cent is this statis­tic, from Mur­ray Car­pen­ter’s book “Caf­feinated”: If you were to string all of the K-cups dis­carded in 2011 to­gether, they would have en­cir­cled the globe more than six times. In 2013, the leftover pods could have cir­cled the globe 10 times.

Much of the world drinks in­stant cof­fee, which is easy to make and per­fect for peo­ple who don’t ap­pre­ci­ate the nu­anced fla­vors of cof­fee. Ex­hibit A: Asia Pa­cific, where tea drink­ing tra­di­tions are strong, is the world’s largest in­stant cof­fee con­sum­ing re­gion by sales. No cof­fee is quite as ubiq­ui­tous as Nescafé, which 41 coun­tries pre­fer.

In the United States, cof­fee pref­er­ences split the na­tion in half: Star­bucks Coun­try and Dunkin’ Donuts Land. Over­all, there are about 12,000 Star­bucks lo­ca­tions and 7,500 Dunkin’ Donuts lo­ca­tions here. In fact, 80 per­cent of Amer­i­cans live within 20 miles of a Star­bucks.

Brazil is over­whelm­ingly the world’s big­gest pro­ducer, re­spon­si­ble for about a third of the world’s out­put. Brazil, Viet­nam, Colom­bia, In­done­sia and Ethiopia to­gether pro­duce over 70 per­cent of the world’s beans.

Ad­dic­tion to it is noth­ing new. J.S. Bach wrote a mini-opera around 1735 known as the “Cof­fee Can­tata.” It is about a woman who won’t stop drink­ing cof­fee and her fa­ther who won’t let her marry un­til she does. They each have a change of heart ina kind of Gift of the Magi sit­u­a­tion, andthe piece ends with ev­ery­one singing cof­fee’s praises.


J.S. Bach wrote a mini-opera around 1735 known as the “Cof­fee Can­tata.”

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