It’s been smuggled in and out of countries with severe restrictions, stolen from royal families, ruined friendships and most importantly, it’s changed influenced so many different parts of the world.
Sit back and enjoy a trip around the world with a plant that has developed from a small bean to one of the largest selling commodities in the world.
The powers of a mans minds are directly proportional to the quantity of coffee he drinks.
Sir James Mackintosh
Where did the race of the coffee bean begin?
Once again, another discovery in Africa. Coffee, the word, is derived from the Arabic and Turkish word for wine, kehwa. The coffee bean originates from the well-known, Ethiopia. Beginning in East Africa and then making its way to Europe in the West, where it was introduced to new citizens and then moved into Asia where it was planted and harvested.
Ethiopia & the dancing goats
The most popular theory of the origin of coffee starts with an Ethiopian goat herder, Kaldi. He encountered his goats dancing, which was very unusual for Kaldi. He noticed there we red berries nearby and discovered that they made the goats dance. He shared his observation with a monk whole was thrilled to find something that could help him stay awake while praying through the night. One story says that he decided to roast it and make a beverage with it intentionally whereas another state that he threw the beans into a fire because disapproved of the ‘sorcery’, the beans began emitting a strange but pleasant smell and that how roasted coffee came about. Nobody knows which story is true or if there ever were dancing goats, all we are certain about is that coffee births from Ethiopia.
Another thing we are certain about is that it migrated across the Red Sea to Yemen in the 15th Century. The port where it docked was called Mocha so when speaking about the word Mocha, you know where the word comes from. It was grown there and become very popular in Egypt, Persia and Turkey. It was known as ‘Wine of Araby’. Coffee houses were established and called “School of the Wise”
In the early 1500s, the court at Mecca declared coffee to be prohibited due to its intoxicating effects. A similar event occurred happened in Cairo, Sweden as well as in the birthplace, Ethiopia. They were all eventually lifted due to the riots that broke out. Justice was returned to the coffee drinkers.
If a country wanted coffee beans, they would have to purchase them and ship it from Yemen because officials liked that no one else could have access to planting fertile beans to grow new plants themselves. Baba Budan a Sufi saint from India was on a pilgrimage to Mecca in 1670. When he returned, he managed to smuggle fertile beans back to India where he began coffee cultivation.
In the late 60s, the Dutch tried growing but failed due to cold weather conditions. Friends in Sri Lanka sent coffee to the Dutch Governor of Java, Indonesia.
This is where our name arises from Java Roasted Coffee.
Coffee eventually arrived in Venice where it quickly rose to fame. It almost got banned when Pope Clement Vlll declared it to be satanic but after tasting it, he gave into the power of the coffee and decided to baptize it, making it a Christian beverage.
The same thing that happened in Arabia happened in Holland, Germany, France, and England. Coffee house broke out left, right and center. They became social hubs where women regularly lost their husbands if they weren’t working or at the bar. They could enjoy a cup of coffee whilst engaging in political debates, they became known as Penny Universities.
In 1674, women signed a petition against coffee to ban coffee and bring their men back home.
In 1683, Austria’s first coffee house opened- The Blue Bottle
The mayor of Amsterdam gifted France a young coffee plant in 1714. Although they could not cultivate coffee trees, managed to keep them alive in special greenhouses that were protected in the Royal Botanical Gardens of Paris. The Turks were shut down and left a surplus of coffee behind. The officer opened a shop and popularized the practice of adding milk and sugar to the coffee.
A captain of the French Navy, Gabriel Mathieu de Clieu is from Martinique but happened to be visiting Paris. We don’t know if he stole cuttings from the forbidden tree or if King Louie himself gave orders for de Clieu to start a coffee plantation in Martinique.
Regardless, de Clieu took his clippings and set sail for the Caribbean, which happened to have the ideal coffee growing conditions.
Brazil grows more coffee today than any other country in the world.
How did this start?
Brazilian colonel by the name of Francisco de Melo Palheta was sent to Guyana to settle a dispute between the Dutch and the French in 1727. His priority was mainly to get coffee and bring it back to Brazil, whatever the cost. When they refused his request, his seductive backup plan came into play. He worked his magic on the French Governor’s wife and eventually she managed to secretly give Francisco a handful of clippings.
It was only in 1822 that coffee production started to boom in Brazil, and in then 1852 the country became the largest producer of coffee and has remained to this day. In 1893, coffee from Brazil was taken to Kenya and Tanzania, close to the birthplace of coffee and cultivated in East Africa.
Coffee only arrived in America in the year was 1773 with the Boston Tea Party and the American Revolution. A group of nationalists were dressed as American Indians and snuck aboard English Tea ships that were docked in the Boston harbor and tossed all of the tea into the ocean to rebel against the English tax on tea! Tea became extremely unpatriotic and coffee replaced its place as America’s favorite choice of beverage.
By the 19th century, coffee was a global phenomenon. It was being shipped and consumed everywhere. Jabez Burns from New York invented the first coffee roaster in 1864 that didn’t need to be held over a fire. He was issued a patent on the machine and became the grandfather of all modern coffee roasting machines.
So we can see how big coffee has grown throughout its journey around the world. Coffee is now the second largest commodity traded on a global scale!
Oil is no. 1 and exceeds the amount of coffee that is traded in the world today. Among coffee drinkers, 3 cups a day are drunk on average. 400 billion cups of coffee are consumed every year. We can see here that it’s very likely that coffee consumption will continue for a very long time.
From ancient monks and goat herders eating magical coffee berries and brewing unroasted coffee to perfectly poured hearts in our lattes, we all play a part in the history of coffee.