History of Coffee in Brief


The volatile history of coffee goes back hundreds of years, impacting economies and cultures worldwide. Here’s a short history of how this bean has woven its way into the lives of hundreds of millions...

  • It is said the bean was discovered by the frisky goats of an Ethiopian goatherd called Kaldi who observed his goats acting unusually frisky after eating berries from a bush. Curious about this phenomenon, Kaldi tried eating the berries himself. He found that these berries gave him a renewed energy. The news of this energy laden fruit quickly spread throughout the region. Coffee berries were transported from Ethiopia to the Arabian Peninsula, and were first cultivated in what today is the country of Yemen.
  • Coffee then traveled to Turkey and then to Europe. In Turkey, coffee beans were roasted for the first time over open fires. The roasted beans were crushed, and then boiled in water, creating a crude version of the beverage we enjoy today. After a Turkish ambassador introduced it to the court of Louis XIV in 1669, Europeans quickly acquired a taste for it. A few years later, the Dutch introduced coffee into Java.
  • In 1683 coffee was poised to conquer Europe. When Arabs tried to seize Vienna, a Pole warned the French who repulsed the Arabs. They found the bags of coffee left behind, and the first European coffeehouse was opened.
  • Once in Europe many felt the pope should ban coffee, calling it the drink of the devil. To their surprise, the pope, already a coffee drinker, blessed coffee declaring it a truly Christian beverage.
  • From Italy, coffee spread to Paris. The first French café was opened in 1686 by Italians. By 1700, the English were drinking coffee.
  • Around 1720, one of the French king's mistresses gave a coffee plant to a French lieutenant she'd slept with; on an ocean voyage to the Caribbean, he protected the plant from storms and pirates. He planted it on the island of Martinique and plantations soon grew from French Guyana to Brazil and Central America. By 1790, half of all the coffee in the world was grown in Haiti by African slaves.
  • Almost all the coffee in Latin America descends from the single Martinique plant .
  • The percolator was invented in 1827 by a French man. It would boil the coffee producing a bitter tasting brew.
  • Espresso came from Neapolitan impatience; they couldn't wait for coffee to be brewed! The first Espresso machine was introduced in 1822 by the French, but it was the Italians who perfected and distributed it.
  • Instant coffee was invented in 1906 by Mr. G. Washington, an Englishman living in Guatemala.
  • Today, coffee is a giant global industry employing more than 20 million people. This commodity ranks second only to petroleum in terms of dollars traded worldwide. With over 400 billion cups consumed every year, coffee is the world's most popular beverage. If you can imagine, in Brazil alone, over 5 million people are employed in the cultivation and harvesting of over 3 billion coffee plants.

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