Keeping America Awake | National Coffee Day

Cup of coffee | Image by Dima Sobko

Grab one more cup of coffee before you go because today is National Coffee Day.

The origin of coffee seems hidden in the steam of centuries. Legends suggest the caffeinated beverage goes back to the discovery of the beans by a young goat herder named Kaldi, who lived in the ancient land of Kaffa during the ninth century.

An old retelling of the story explained how Kaldi noticed his goats acting strange after eating some berries. The animals began “abandoning themselves to the most extravagant prancing.”

Seeing the plant’s impact on his herd, Kaldi ate some as well and found them to have an energizing effect.

“When the goats danced,” the legend goes, Kaldi happily “made himself one of the parties and entered into their fun with admirable spirit.”

One day while Kaldi and his dancing goats were enjoying the coffee beans, a religious man passed by and noticed the commotion. The monk had struggled to stay awake during evening prayers, but when Kaldi gave him some berries, he realized that they could be the solution to his drowsiness.

The monk took them back to the monastery and began drying out the seeds and boiling them to make a more palatable concoction.

“Immediately, all the monks of the realm made use of the drink,” legend tells, “because it encouraged them to pray and, perhaps, also because it was not disagreeable.”

Although no one really knows when people first started brewing coffee, there is no denying that the whole world eventually woke up to the tasty drink.

Coffee has been a part of North American life ever since Captain John Smith brought some with him when founding the colony of Jamestown in 1607. Prior to traveling to the New World, Smith had spent time in Turkey and became attached to the drink while there.

From such humble beginnings, coffee has become a mainstay in the American diet today. Roughly 62% of Americans consume coffee daily, and regular drinkers have at least three cups throughout the day.

It is estimated that the coffee industry will enjoy at least $81 billion of revenue in 2022, and by 2025 that number is expected to top $100 billion, according to Statista. Individually, women spend, on average, roughly $2,300 a year on coffee, while men spend just over $1,900.

For National Coffee Day, businesses such as Dunkin’ Donuts, Shipley, Krispy Kreme, and many others are offering free or discounted drinks in certain cases.

And don’t be so quick to throw out your grounds when the day is done; you can use them when you break out the French Press or enjoy some Turkish coffee this weekend for International Coffee Day, celebrated on Saturday, October 1.

A previous version of this article ran on September 29, 2022.

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