Full of beans

Some 70m cups of coffee are imbibed every day in the UK, which is a considerable number of cappuccinos, lattes, mochas and plain old filter types for a nation traditionally devoted to tea.

In these pages we offer a flavour of what coffee is all about for the people who make it, sell it, buy it and drink it; from the staggering sums spent globally on the world’s second most traded commodity (after oil) to some of the very odd uses to which coffee and its by-products are regularly put.

Did you know, for example, that while some people use it as an attractor and a sign that a nice evening might not be over after the drive home, others employ it to repel insects or to keep their angling bait fresh and wriggling for all-night fishing trips?

And while there is without doubt an awful lot of coffee in Brazil, we’ll look at where else – and how – coffee beans are grown and sample some of the mind-blowing beverages available in coffee shops and on supermarket shelves.

On the taste front, we learn how some famous faces take their coffee and reveal how coffee flavours are not restricted to the dessert course by our more enterprising chefs. Grouse with cocoa nibs and coffee-flavoured bangers and mash, anyone?

We also explore the colourful history of emporia in this country, from the time when Britain’s women took a stand against “nauseous Puddle-water” through the formation of some of the world’s most famous financial institutions to the brightly-lit frappuccino wonderlands of today.

Along the way, find out how JS Bach celebrated coffee in song and whether the medical boffins think the drink is good or bad for us – for this week, at least…