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The life cycle of a cup of coffee - A.J. Jacobs

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  • TEDEd Animation

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How many people does it take to make a cup of coffee? For many of us, all it takes is a short walk and a quick pour. But this simple staple is the result of a globe-spanning process whose cost and complexity are far greater than you might imagine. AJ Jacobs traces the journey of this caffeinated elixir from seed to cup.

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TED-Ed Animations feature the words and ideas of educators brought to life by professional animators. Are you an educator or animator interested in creating a TED-Ed Animation? Nominate yourself here »

Meet The Creators

  • Educator A.J. Jacobs
  • Director Biljana Labovic
  • Narrator Addison Anderson
  • Storyboard Artist Biljana Labovic
  • Animator Daniella Schnitzer
  • Art Director Daniella Schnitzer
  • Sound Designer Weston Fonger
  • Director of Production Gerta Xhelo
  • Editorial Director Alex Rosenthal
  • Producer Bethany Cutmore-Scott
  • Editorial Producer Dan Kwartler
  • Script Editor Alex Gendler
  • Fact-Checker Eden Girma
  • See more creators
Additional Resources for you to Explore
One of the world’s most popular beverages, coffee originated in Ethiopia around the 10th century. The first coffee shop opened in modern-day Istanbul in 1475. The drink arrived in the Americas in the early 1700s, but was popularized after 1773’s Boston Tea Party, which helped demonize that beverage among the colonists.

The key component in coffee is caffeine, a legal stimulant. Caffeine can make people feel more awake, energized, and focused, but also exhibits addictive properties. Although some drink decaffeinated coffee for the taste, most drink the caffeinated version. A high enough dosage of caffeine could actually kill, though it would take about 80 to 100 cups.

According to the most recent annual survey from the National Coffee Association, 62% of Americans drink coffee daily, with the average coffee drinker consuming 3.1 cups per day. Coffee consumption is particularly growing among the young, with an estimated 37% of people aged 13-18 drinking coffee daily in 2017, up from 23% in 2014.

The U.S. imports the most coffee of any country, followed by Japan, Russia, and Canada. In 2019, coffee chain Starbucks ranked as the second-biggest food or drink chain in the U.S. by revenue, behind only McDonald’s.

Brazil exports the most coffee of any country, followed by Vietnam, Columbia, and Indonesia. The two main types of coffee beans are Arabica and Robusta, which comprise about 60% and 40% of global coffee exports, respectively.

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About TED-Ed Animations

TED-Ed Animations feature the words and ideas of educators brought to life by professional animators. Are you an educator or animator interested in creating a TED-Ed Animation? Nominate yourself here »

Meet The Creators

  • Educator A.J. Jacobs
  • Director Biljana Labovic
  • Narrator Addison Anderson
  • Storyboard Artist Biljana Labovic
  • Animator Daniella Schnitzer
  • Art Director Daniella Schnitzer
  • Sound Designer Weston Fonger
  • Director of Production Gerta Xhelo
  • Editorial Director Alex Rosenthal
  • Producer Bethany Cutmore-Scott
  • Editorial Producer Dan Kwartler
  • Script Editor Alex Gendler
  • Fact-Checker Eden Girma
  • See more creators

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