It’s been suggested that humans have been drinking coffee for at least 500 years. And, much like any other historical food or beverage discovery from around the world, once the word is in, both its popularity and cultivation spread like wildfire.
The Story of Discovery
Legend has it that the first coffee was drunk in the Ethiopian highlands. Story is that coffee as a beverage was discovered following a local goat herder seeing his goats eating the coffee berry and then becoming full of energy. This resulted in locals using the berries to make a drink, which was found to also increase their alertness.
From its origins, the special properties of the coffee berry saw consumption spread across the world. As part of this, coffee also began to be grown around the world. All areas today that now grow coffee were sourced from Ethiopian plants.
Coffee, Coffee Houses and Social Gatherings
With the growth in trade and cultivation, the popular “public coffee house” sprang into existence. These coffee houses became meeting places and social gatherings, further increasing their popularity across Arabia.
Coffee in Europe
It is said that coffee had infiltrated Europe by the 17th Century. At first, there was some scepticism over its morality; however, once Pope Clement VIII tasted it and declared his approval, coffee took on a life of its own.
Coffee houses also became very popular across Europe. They were hubs of intellectual thinking, conversation and meeting. It has been said that by the middle of the 17th Century, London had more than 300 coffee houses.
Coffee in the United States
While not called the United States at that time, coffee hit America’s shores in the middle of the 1600s. Up until the Boston Tea Party revolt, tea was North America’s favoured beverage. However, to circumvent the enormous tax on tea at that time, North Americans began drinking coffee instead.
In order to supply the world’s want for coffee, many countries began cultivating it. While it was Arabia that first cultivated it, the Dutch were the next to succeed in growing it in Indonesia. A coffee sapling was given to the King of France as a gift. This actual sapling is said to be the parent tree from which all coffee trees in the Caribbean, South and Central America originated. Brazil, which today has a thriving coffee industry, was also one of the first to have begun cultivation.
Today, coffee remains a popular beverage around the world. And, for many countries, it is no surprise that it remains one of the most lucrative export crops.