A Brief History of Coffee
By: Maria I. Aguero de Manunta, MS, RD, CDN, CDCDE
"Coffee is a balm for the heart and spirit" -Giuseppe Verdi
The Latin American region can be proud to have the top 10 countries with the highest coffee production in the world. Brazil, Colombia, Guatemala, Mexico, and Honduras are on this privileged list that produces the grain of gold for the whole world. Brazil is the world's largest coffee producer.
There are numerous legends about who discovered coffee in the world. One of the legends tells that the man who discovered coffee was a goat herder named Kaldi. Legend has it that Kaldi led his goats to graze on the steep slopes of Kaffa in Abyssinia. One day his animals got lost and, after much searching, he found them. According to Pastor Kaldi, the goats had ingested some red fruits that caused a strange effect on them, making them more active. So Kaldi decided to try the fruit himself from a small bush in the area and saw its energizing effects.
There are many theories about the arrival of coffee in America. The most accepted is the one that attributes the introduction of the bush to Gabriel Mathieu de Clieu, an officer of the French navy who in 1720 transported the plant to the Martinique Island (in the Antilles) by order of Louis XIV. From Martinique, it began its expansion throughout the American continent. Clieu is said to have hidden coffee cuttings on his boat and even watered it with his own ration of water so that it could survive the voyage. The plant adapted so well on the island that, after 50 years, there were 19 million copies.
According to Sarah Klemm, RDN, coffee is not only caffeine but also contains substances with antioxidant properties. It may provide additional benefits such as a lower risk of cardiovascular disease, Type 2 diabetes, Parkinson's disease, acting as an anti-inflammatory. In addition, coffee also contains small amounts of some nutrients, including potassium, niacin, and magnesium.
According to the 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, adults who choose to include caffeinated beverages in the form of coffee should not consume more than 400 milligrams of caffeine per day, which is the most that is recommended per day for healthy adults. A shot of espresso has about 75 milligrams of caffeine. Certain groups, such as people with hypertension and the elderly, may be at a higher risk for adverse side effects of caffeine and so should consider limiting their intake. Pregnant and breastfeeding women will also want to limit caffeine and discuss their intake with a health care provider. Due to coffee being a stimulant, it is not recommended for children and adolescents. In large doses, caffeine may cause irritability, impaired calcium metabolism, anxiety, rapid heart rate, elevated blood pressure, and sleep problems. However, used properly and within the recommended amounts, caffeine may have positive outcomes.
*For more information regarding nutrition and coffee intake, consult a registered dietitian nutritionist*