It is unclear the exact date or how coffee was first discovered, but there are numerous legends regarding its history.
An Ethiopian Legend
Coffee grown around the world has its origins back hundreds of years to the coffee forests of the past located on the Ethiopian plateau. According to legend, that the goatherder Kaldi first realized the benefits of these adored beans.
According to legend, Kaldi discovered coffee when he observed that after consuming the berries of one particular trees, his animals were so active that they didn’t want to go to bed at night.
Kaldi shared his findings with an abbot at the monastery nearby who prepared a drink using the berries. They found that it helped keep him awake during lengthy hours of night prayer. The abbot shared the discovery with other monks of the monastery, and word of the energizing fruit started to spread.
When word spread to the east and coffee reached the Arabian peninsula the coffee began a trip that would transport coffee beans to all corners of the world.
The Arabian Peninsula
The cultivation of coffee and the trade in it began in the Arabian Peninsula. In the 15th century, coffee was grown within the Yemeni district of Arabia and in the 16th century, it was widely known as being grown in Persia, Egypt, Syria and Turkey.
Coffee wasn’t just enjoyed at home however, it was also enjoyed in the numerous coffee shops that were publicknown as the qahveh khaneh that began to pop up in cities throughout in the Near East. The popularity of coffee shops was unmatched and many people flocked to them for various social events.
In addition to being able to enjoy coffee and converse and conversation, they also enjoyed live music, watched performances playing chess, and were current with the latest news. Coffee houses quickly became an important place for information exchange that they were frequently described as “Schools of the Wise.”
In the wake of thousands of people coming to Mecca, the city that is holy to all Muslims Mecca every year from across the globe the knowledge of the “wine from Araby” started to become widely known.
Coffee is Coming to Europe
European travellers who traveled to Near East brought back stories of a unique dark, dark beverage. In the 17th century, coffee was coming into Europe and was becoming a popular drink across the continent.
Certain people reacted to this beverage with fear or suspicion and called this drink an “bitter creation of Satan.” A local church slammed coffee when it arrived in Venice in 1615. The controversy was so intense it that Pope Clement VIII was asked to intervene. He decided to test the beverage himself prior to making a decision. He found the drink to be so enjoyable that he decided to give the papal blessing.
Despite this the coffee houses quickly becoming hubs of social interaction and interaction in the main cities in England, Austria, France, Germany and Holland. Then in England “penny university” were born, named because for the cost of a penny , one could buy a cup coffee and engage in lively conversations.
Coffee started replacing the typical breakfast drinks that were popular at the time such as wine and beer. The people who took coffee in place of alcohol would start their day energized and focused in a way, and, unsurprisingly they found that the quality of their work improved dramatically. (We prefer to consider this as a prelude to the current office coffee service.)
In the late 17th the century, it was possible to find nearly 300 coffee shops in London and many of them attracted patrons who were like-minded, such as brokers, shippers, traders and artists.
Numerous businesses emerged from these coffee houses with a specialization. Lloyd’s of London, for instance, was founded within the Edward Lloyd’s Coffee House.
The New World
In the early 1600’s the coffee industry was introduced in the mid-1600’s to New Amsterdam, later called New York by the British.
Although coffee shops quickly appeared in the city, tea remained the most popular beverage throughout the New World until 1773, in which the colonists revolted to an imposing tax on tea, imposed on them by King George III. The rebellion, also known as”the” Boston Tea Party, would forever alter the American consumption habits towards coffee.
Plantations All Around the World
As the demand for coffee was growing There was intense competition for coffee to be grown in other regions of Arabia.
The Dutch finally had seedlings the latter half of 17th century. The first attempt to plant seeds in India were unsuccessful however, they did succeed by their efforts in Batavia located on an island called Java located in the present-day Indonesia.
The plant thrived, and within a short time the Dutch enjoyed a thriving and expanding market for coffee. The Dutch then extended cultivating coffee plants to the island of Sumatra as well as Celebes.
The Coming to the Americas
In 1714 the Mayor of Amsterdam presented coffee plants that were just beginning to grow to the King Louis XIV of France. The King requested that it plant in the Royal Botanical Garden in Paris. A new naval officer named Gabriel de Clieu was able to obtain an heirloom from the King’s garden. Despite a long and difficult journeythat included terrible weather and a saboteur trying to take down the seedling and pirate attacks -Gabriel de Clieu was able to deliver the seedling safely to Martinique.
When it was planted the seedling flourished, but was also believed to have facilitated the spread of more than 18 million trees of coffee on Martinique. Martinique within the following 50 years. What’s more remarkable is how this plant was the mother of all coffee trees in all of the Caribbean, South and Central America.
The well-known Brazilian coffee is a result of its ancestry in part to Francisco de Mello Palheta, who was sent by the Emperor in French Guiana to get coffee seeds. The French did not want to sharetheir coffee, however they did share with the French Governor’s wife was enthralled by his attractive appearance and regal appearance, presented him with a huge bouquet of blooms before he left. In the sand were the seeds of coffee to create what is now an estimated billion-dollar business.
Missionaries , travelers traders, colonists and missionaries carried coffee seeds to new regions as well as coffee tree plantings were established throughout the world. Plantations were planted in beautiful tropical forests as well as on the rugged mountains. Some crops were successful, while others were not as successful. New nations were created by the coffee industry. Fortunes were created and lost. In the 1800s, coffee was one of the most lucrative export crop. Coffee, after crude oil, is the most sought-after commodity around the globe.
For similar stories on coffee, check this coffee blog.