Coffee; from the classic black to the modern hipster tri-whatever-lattes. Wherever you fall along this spectrum, you’ve probably wondered where and how this special brew came to be discovered. Or was this a quick Google search on coffee on a whim? Either ways, the tale of where coffee originated from is as rich as the brew itself.
HOW WAS COFFEE DISCOVERED? ETHIOPIA AND THE DANCING GOATS
Many stories surround the origin of coffee, some facts, others legends depending on who you ask. One story speaks of a Kaldi an Ethiopian goat herder. He noticed his herd had become unusually overactive after consuming the red cherries of a wild coffee shrub. Curiously, he tasted the cherries and found it revitalizing. Afterwards, a group of monks spotted him dancing with goats.
Similarly, a Muslim devish condemned and abandoned in the dessert to die by his brethren stumbled upon a coffee tree. He was unable to soften the coffee beans with water so he drank the liquid. He took his renewed strength as a sign from God and returned to his people sharing his experience and recipe.
WHERE THE WORD ‘COFFEE’ ORIGINATED FROM
The word ‘coffee’ came from the Dutch “koffie” borrowed from the Ottoman Turkish “kahve”. ‘Kahve’ was derived from the Arabic “qahwah” which originally referred to a type of wine.
By 1414, coffee had spread from North Africa to the Yemeni port of Mocha then to other parts of the world. Originally, the term ‘’mocha’’ referred to the city of Mocha in Yemen. Now, mocha is associated with chocolate flavored coffee drinks.
Caffeine History Timeline
THE COFFEE ORIGIN STORY OF EUROPE
Coffee came into Europe through two routes, the Ottoman Empire and the port of Mocha. It was first introduced to Europe on the Island of Malta in the 16th century.
Trade relations between the republic of Venice and North Africa, introduced coffee to the wealthy in Venice.
Coffee became available in the UK in the 16th century. England opened it’s first coffeehouse in Oxford in 1652. In the same year, London had it’s first coffee shop at St. Michael’s alley, Cornhill. Subsequently, the coffeehouses grew so popular that they became social hubs for the sharing of information and discussion of social and other issues.
In France, an ambassador named Soleiman Agha arrived in 1669 with his entourage and gave large amounts of coffee beans to the royal court and that led to the drinking of coffee among the French.
COFFEE IN THE AMERICAS
Coffee reached North America in 1668 and in South America, a French mariner named Gabriel du Clieu took a sapling of the coffee plant to the Island of Martinique in the year 1723. By 1730, the British began cultivating coffee in Jamaica.
Many Latin American countries experienced stunted growth the coffee farms due to lack of manpower. In addition, these countries lost about 40% of their market due to the Second World War. Yet, coffee was and is still one of the continent’s top cash commodities. Brazil is the largest producer of coffee in the world accounting for 40% of the global supply.
BRIEF HISTORY OF COFFEE IN AFRICA
Initially, some East African tribes took in coffee as food and not as the beverage we have all come to know. They made a paste by grinding coffee cherries and mixing the paste with animal fat. The mixture was rolled into little balls. At the time, warriors ate these coffee balls to give them the much needed energy for battle.
Around the year 1000 AD, Ethiopians made a wine-like concoction from coffee berries by fermenting the dried beans in water.
In Ghana, the Germans supervised the transportation of coffee saplings from Togo to the country and cultivation began in the year 1928 in Leklebi.
Ultimately, there will always different versions of where coffee originated from, but boy aren’t we glad it was discovered.