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5 Myths About Coffee You Probably Believe

TL;DR
    1. Coffee beans aren't beans
    2. Freezing coffee beans won't keep them fresher for longer
    3. Coffee won't counteract alcohol
    4. Dark roast doesn't contain more caffeine
    5. Columbia isn't the original home of coffee

Myth: Coffee beans are beans.

This might come as a surprise, but coffee beans aren't beans. They're not even legumes. Coffee is a fruit.

Before it makes it to your cup, coffee starts as a cherry grown on a tree. When they're ripe, the cherries are harvested, and the seeds are separated from the fruit. 

Those seeds are known to coffee drinkers as beans. Why? Well, they look like beans. Coffee is the second most-traded commodity in the world (source), and that likely plays a part. It's easier to market something familiar in a single word, even if it's incorrect, than explain this bit of trivia.

This isn't unheard of with other agricultural products. Just ask the pineapple.

Myth: Freezing coffee beans keeps them fresh for a longer period of time.

This myth might work if you're planning on drinking that coffee years from now, but in reality your beans won't be any fresher in a freezer than if you stored them on a shelf in your pantry. In fact, they might wind up worse from moisture intrusion, or "freezer burn."

Consider that at no point in their lives do coffee beans experience freezing temperatures.

Myth: Coffee counteracts the effects of alcohol.

Sorry, a cup of coffee will not "sober you up." It may increase mental clarity, but that depends on how much alcohol has been consumed.

There's no way to reduce someone's blood alcohol content with coffee. If you're buzzed, skip the cup of coffee and call a ride home.  

Myth: Dark-roast coffee contains more caffeine than medium- or light-roast coffee.

The caffeine content in coffee beans doesn't magically go up the longer or hotter the roast. Where would this extra caffeine come from anyway? The Caffeine Fairy?

The opposite is also not true. Roasting coffee darker does not burn off caffeine. This is confusing because at certain temperatures, caffeine does start to dissipate. However, those temperatures are well above even dark roast levels.

That isn't to say caffeine levels are the same across all varieties of coffee beans. That can depend on how and where the coffee is grown, as well as the specific species of coffee plant.

Myth: Columbia is where coffee originates.

Columbia may be known for its signature export, but coffee isn't native to that country or even South America. 

The coffee tree is originally from what is now known as Ethiopia. Several centuries ago, as legend would have it, a goat herder named Kaldi noticed how his livestock perked up after eating coffee cherries (source). The rest is history.

Ethiopia still produces some of the finest coffee in the world. That's why Writer's Block Coffee contains single-origin, specialty-grade coffee from Ethiopia.

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