The History of Coffee

Today, it would not be a stretch or any means of exaggeration to say that coffee is well on its way to taking over the world and no one will stand in its way. We will succumb willingly to its dominion, because it is something we love. It has long evolved into a global phenomenon; a source of comfort, stimulation, enjoyment, social tradition and cultural habit. Without a doubt it is addicting on a personal scheme, and highly successful in distribution in every form from the nature of fashionable gift to the commercial nature of a commodity. We form our moods, schedules and activities around this drink sometimes our very lives. We have become that dedicated to this sole beverage, swearing by it, depending on it. It has influenced us and intoxicated us, and has established itself, officially, as our pet sustenance. It has come to establish itself as the second leading beverage of consumption in the world and second only to water. Often, lines of customers at local Starbucks or Coffee Bean cafes on any weekday morning are longer than the voting lines in First Tuesdays in November.
Coffee’s spreading domination did not always manifest in the form of Starbucks stores popping up on every corner, though. Its crusade began as far back as the eleventh century, when it was chiefly restricted to Ethiopia a non-coastal country located in the Horn of Africa where its native beans were primarily cultured. First cultivated by resident highlanders there, the beans migrated into northern Africa as the Arab world initiated the development of its trade horizons, where the beans were mass-cultivated. Following that milestone, the beans found the Indian and European markets, and the brew’s popularity spread.
The word coffee’ is traced back to the Arabic origin qahwa’, a truncation of qahhwat al-bun’ or wine of the bean’. Islam tradition forbids alcohol being used as a beverage, and coffee presented a sound substitute for wine.
Italy was coffee’s first destination as an imported product. Venetian merchants were responsible for pioneering coffee to Venice’s wealthy, selling it to them for a weighty price. This was how coffee was introduced to Europe. It became more readily received after it was baptized’, courtesy of Pope Clement VIII in 1600, though there were appeals to bar the Muslim drink. Italy’s first coffee house was opened in 1645.
Through the chief efforts of the British East India Company and the Dutch East India Company, coffee became available in England. After its first coffeehouse was established, the popularity of coffeehouses grew rapidly throughout Europe, and later, in America. By 1675, over 3,000 coffeehouses existed in England.
Though not universal, the banning of women from coffeehouses appears to have been common in Europe. Women frequented them in Germany, but in England they were banned.
Many people were of the belief that coffee had some medicinal components in this period. It was supposed that it dried up the crudities of the stomach’ and expelled fumes out of the head’.
After being established in England, coffee then sprang up in a series of other locations (including France, Austria, and the Netherlands) before finally landing in the Americas. Its introduction can be attributed to France through its colonization of numerous parts of the continent where the first French coffee plantations were founded, heavily dependant on African slave laborers.
Coffee beans are produced by several species of small evergreen plants of the genus Coffea’, the two most commonly grown species being Coffea canephora’ and Coffea arabica’. These varieties are cultivated in Latin America, Africa, and Southeast Asia. Upon ripening, coffee berries (the pods which contain the coffee bean) are harvested, processed, and dried. Next, the seeds are roasted, where they undergo some physical and chemical changes. Depending on desired flavor, they are heated to varying extents. To create the final result of coffee, they are then ground and brewed. The finished product has a variety of potential as to how it can be prepared and presented. In addition to its general, sole quality, coffee is also employed in the flavoring and enhancing of other deviating edibles, most commonly a variety of desserts.
After being roasted, coffee beans require being properly stored to preserve the fresh taste of the bean. Ideally, storage conditions will be air-tight and cool. Air, moisture, heat and light are ecological components in order of consequence to preserving flavor in coffee beans. Bags that are folded over, a common way consumers purchase coffee, is generally not ideal for sustained storage, due to air access. A more suitable packaging includes a one-way valve, which prevents air from entering.
In many cultures throughout modern history, coffee has played a significant role. It was utilized in religious ceremonies in Africa and Yemen, and as a result, its consumption was banned by the Ethiopian Church until the reign of Ethiopian Emperor Manelik II. Due to political reasons, it was also banned in Ottoman, Turkey in the 17th century, and was correlated to rebellious political movements in Europe.
An imperative export commodity, coffee was the crown agricultural export of twelve countries in 2004. In 2005, it was the world’s seventh leading authorized agricultural export by value.
Coffee is, in association, the cause of some controversy when it comes to its cultivation and the impact that has on the environment. Inspections of the link between coffee consumption and certain medical conditions have been executed, but the question of coffee contributing positive or negative effects is still disputed. Studies show that coffee increases the risk of acid reflux and associated diseases, but appears to decrease the risk of Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, heart disease, diabetes mellitus type 2, cirrhosis of the liver, and gout. To an extent, health effects attributed to coffee are due to its caffeine content, as the benefits are exclusively observed in the specimens who consume caffeinated coffee, while others seem to be attributed to other components. In illustration, the antioxidants present in coffee thwart free radicals from causing cell damage. Research, however, does propose that consuming caffeinated coffee can cause a temporary increase in the stiffening of arterial walls. (Depending on the variety of coffee and how it is prepared, the caffeine content of a single serving can vary greatly.) Excess consumption of coffee might result in a magnesium deficiency or hypomagnesaemia, and may be a factor of risk for coronary heart disease. Studies have been known to suggest that it may have a diverse influence on short-term memory, by improving it when the information to be recalled is correlated to the present train of thought, but causing more difficulty when it comes to recalling unrelated information. Roughly 10% of people that had a moderate daily intake of coffee (235 mg per day) reported enhanced depression and anxiety when caffeine was withdrawn, and about 15% of the general population reported they stopped using caffeine completely, concerned about health and disagreeable side effects. Despite that, though, the majority of medical experts sport the view that consuming three 8-ounce cups of coffee per day (considered average or moderate consumption) has no significant risks for the health of adults.
Coffee farming was originally practiced in the shade of trees, which accommodated many animals and insects in the sense of habitat. This shaded method’ was the traditional technique, but many farmers have since made the decision to renovate their production tactics and make the alteration to sun development. This method consists of growing coffee in rows under full sun with little or virtually no wooded shelter. This encourages a more rapid period of time in which the coffee berries ripen and the plants produce elevated yields, but requires the clearance of woodland and augmented use of fertilizer and pesticides. On the other hand, while customary coffee production proved to cause a slower ripening of berries and turn out lower yields in comparison to the modernized technique, the superiority of the coffee is supposedly a plus.
Brazil was the largest producer of coffee and virtual monopolist in the trade for many decades in the 19th and 20th centuries. A policy of maintaining steep prices, however, soon presented opportunities to other nations, including Columbia, Guatemala, Indonesia and Vietnam. Large-scale development in Vietnam followed normalization of trade relations with the U.S. in 1995, and while Brazil remains coffee’s chief exporting nation, Vietnam has risen to a major producer of Robusta beans. Virtually all of the coffee developed there is Robusta. The third largest exporter is Columbia also the largest producer of washed Arabica coffee.
Despite Ethiopia’s claim to the original cultivation of coffee, they produced only a minor quantity for export until the Twentieth Century, and most of that not from the south of the country but from the environs of Harar in the northeast. The home of the plant itself, the Kingdom of Kaffa, was estimated to produce between 50,000 and 60,000 kilograms of coffee beans in the 1880’s. Business production effectively got underway in 1907 with the establishment of the inland port of Gambela, and heavily amplified following that. 100,000 kilograms of coffee was exported from Gambela in 1908, while more than 4 million kilograms passed through that port in1927-8. Plantations dedicated to the production of coffee were also established in Arsi Province at the same time, and were eventually exported by way of the Addis Ababa Djibouti Railway. Even though only 245,000 kilograms were freighted by the Railway, this amount surged to 2,240,000 kilograms by 1922, exceeding exports of “Harari” coffee by 1925, and reached 9,260,000 kilograms in 1936.
Australia, though a minor producer, has a coffee history that goes back to 1880 when the first 500 acres designated for plantations underwent their initial development in an area between northern New South Wales and Cooktown. Now, there are several producers of Arabica coffee in Australia that employ a system of mechanical harvesting that was invented in 1981.
The earliest method of brewing coffee was to boil it, and Turkish coffee is an illustration of this technique. Preparation includes powdering the beans with a mortar and pestle, and then adding the powder to water and boiling it in a pot termed a cezve or, in Greek, a briki. The result is the fabrication of a strong coffee with a layer of foam on the surface.
Initially, coffee was used for spiritual purposes. At least 1,000 years ago, coffee was brought across the Red Sea for trade, breaking into Arabia (modern day Yemen), where Muslim monks took to cultivating the shrub in their gardens. Early on, the pulp of the fermented coffee berries was used to make wine, resulting in a drink called qishr’, and was put to use in religious ceremonies. Where wine was prohibited in spiritual practices, coffee took its place as a substitute.
Coffee underwent a series of brief prohibitions during the 16th and 17th centuries. A modern illustration of such a ban exists in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. This organization asserts that the brew is physically as well as spiritually unwholesome to consume. This stems from the Mormon doctrine of health, given in 1833 by Mormon founder Jospeh Smith, in a revelation called the Word of Wisdom. It does not exclusively recognize coffee by name, but contains the statement “hot drinks are not for the belly”, which has been taken to represent the prohibition of both coffee and tea alike. Likewise, many members of the Seventh-day Adventist Church also steer clear of caffeinated beverages. In its philosophies, the church asks that its members avoid coffee and tea and other related stimulants. The results of studies conducted on Adventists have displayed a small but statistically significant connection between coffee consumption and mortality from ischemic heart disease, other cardiovascular disease, all cardiovascular diseases combined, and all causes of death.
On average, coffee consumption equals approximately a third of that of tap water in North America and Europe. 6.7 million Metric tons of coffee were produced annually worldwide in 1998-2000, and it is predicted that it will climb to 7 million metric tons annually by 2010. 25 million small producers worldwide depend on coffee for living. For example, in Brazil, more than 5 million people are employed in the development and farming of over 3 billion coffee plants. In addition, coffee production has played a significant part in the history of Costa Rica; 28 percent of their labor force was employed in 1997 by the agriculture sector. The business paraded as their third leading export in 2006 after it was the number one cash crop export for several decades. Ecuador, though small, is one of the few countries across the globe that exports all the varieties of coffee. These varieties include: Arabica lavado, Arabica natural and Robusta.
Coffee reaches its consumers through an array of cafes and specialty stores, 30% of which are chains, and also through supermarkets and traditional retail chains. Annual consumption of coffee around the globe reaches twelve billion pounds, and the United States alone sports more than 130 million coffee drinkers.
Starbucks Corporation, an international coffee and coffeehouse chain based in Seattle, Washington, is the world’s leading coffeehouse company, employing 15,012 stores in 44 different countries. It was originally founded in Seattle as a local coffee bean roaster and retailer, but has since expanded rapidly. Throughout the 1990’s, Starbucks was unleashing a new store every workday, and continued doing so into the 2000’s. The first location to be established outside of the U.S. and Canada emerged in the 1990’s, and they presently constitute nearly one third of Starbucks’ stores.
Starbucks had more than 16,226 stores worldwide by the end of March 2008, including 11,434 stationed in the U.S. However, on July1, 2008, the company made the announcement that it would be closing 600 company-owned stores that were struggling, as well as scratching plans of expansion amid the growing economic uncertainty.
Other popular coffee brands outside of Starbuck have come to include Folgers, Eight o’Clock, Lavazza, Maxwell House, Douwe Egberts Coffee, Yuban, as well as others.
Coffee culture’ is the expression employed to depict a social atmosphere that relies greatly upon coffee shops, espresso in particular, to perform as a social lubricant. It is commonly used to allocate the omnipresence of hundreds of coffee shops and espresso stands in the urban area of Seattle, and the swell of franchises of businesses such as Starbucks and its kin across the globe. Despite coffee culture’ being an exclusively American-attributed term, the development of culture around coffee and its houses actually dates back to the earliest coffeehouses that were established in the 16th century in Turkey.
In another sense of orientation, coffee culture’ also refers to the circulation and acceptance of coffee as a largely-used stimulant by a culture.
Whether due to its popular taste or other influence of its components, coffee has exploded since its discovery. Through many uses and methods of enjoyment, it has become a solid and immortal part of our captivated society. It is not only valued, but cherished. We’ve watched it grow physically and through the generations. Ethiopia struck the gold of the future when it stumbled upon those first coffee specimens in its midst. Little did they know how momentous the spread would be how the vines would cross the oceans and the aroma would sweep the world. It began as a small treasure, and evolved with progress a contribution to progress itself. Migrating and catching on with such rapid appeal, it is sometimes hard to imagine it had such a quaint origin. But history traces it back, shrinks it down to size, and finds it nestled in its birthplace for us to discover through the method of in-depth hindsight.
Thus was born and cultivated the popular brew that we indulge so heavily in today a brew that has its roots laced into our past and history; likely addicted our ancestors and runs in our very blood; and has us bonded beneath the surface to our foreign neighbors through a strong, mutual taste for the drink we all love.


  1. History of coffee
  2. Fat Smash Diet
  3. National Coffee Association USA > About Coffee > History of Coffee

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