Despite the appeal of such a legend, botanical evidence suggests a different origin for coffee. Evidence indicates that the history of the coffee bean began on the plateaus of central Ethiopia and somehow migrated to Yemen where it has been cultivated since the 6th Century.
Whatever it's beginnings--coffee has grown to a multi-billion-dollar business around the world with more addicts than any other drug. Fortunately, drinking it also appears to have healthy benefits.
A recent University of Scranton survey revealed that coffee is America's number one source of antioxidants, an important compound that protects your body from disease.
Antioxidants are substances, or nutrients, in foods that can prevent or slow oxidative damage to our body. When cells use oxygen, they naturally produce by-products, which can cause damage to other cells.
Fruits and vegetables are hailed as the richest sources of antioxidants, but this study shows that coffee is the main source from which most Americans get their antioxidants. Black tea is ranked second with bananas coming in at third. Both caffeinated and decaffeinated coffee appear to provide similar amounts of antioxidants.
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Americans consume an average of more than eight ounces of coffee a day. That's at least one large cup.
Dr. Joe Vinson, the chemistry professor who led the coffee study, offered some advice for coffee drinkers.
"Spread your coffee drinking throughout the day," he said.
"Caffeine raises your blood pressure, so if you are going to drink a lot of coffee, choose decaf," he added.
According to a spate of such recent studies, moderate coffee drinking may lower the risk of colon cancer by about 25 percent, gallstones by 45 percent, cirrhosis of the liver by 80 percent, Parkinson's disease by 50 percent and Type II diabetes by as much as 29 percent. Other benefits include a 25 percent reduction in the onset of attacks among asthma sufferers and even fewer suicides.
Coffee has been shown to improve concentration, alertness, and focus. It can improve your performance in sports by increasing endurance.
It may be helpful for cyclists, long distance runners, swimmers, or other athletes that play sports requiring great stamina.
The effect of caffeine on performance is so pronounced that the Olympic committee actually considers it a controlled substance and limits how much coffee athletes can consume during the games.
However, coffee drinkers do need to be aware that too much coffee may actually increase the risk of heart disease for some people.