There is no way to know exactly the exact date or how coffee was discovered, even though there are many myths surrounding 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. Legend has it that Kaldi, the herder of goats Kaldi first realized the value of these prized beans.
The legend goes that Kaldi discovered coffee when he observed that after consuming the berries of the same plant, the goats got so active that they were unable to rest at night.
Kaldi shared his findings with an abbot at the monastery nearby who prepared a drink using the berries. They found that it kept him awake throughout lengthy hours of night prayer. The abbot shared the discovery with the monks who were also at the monastery and the knowledge of the powerful berries 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. The 15th century was the time when coffee was growing within the Yemeni district of Arabia and in the 16th century, coffee was cultivated as being grown in Persia, Egypt, Syria and Turkey.
Coffee wasn’t just enjoyed in the home but also in numerous cafes that were open to the publicalso known as Qahveh khaneh — that started to be found in cities across all of the Near East. The popularity of these coffee shops was unmatched and the people who frequented them were involved in various social events.
In addition to being able to take a cup of coffee and converse and conversation, they also enjoyed performances, listened to music as well as played chess, and stayed up to date with the latest news. Coffee houses quickly became an important venue for information exchange that they were frequently described as “Schools of the Wise.”
As pilgrims from all over the world began coming to Mecca, the city that is holy to all Muslims Mecca every year from across the globe the knowledge of the “wine that is Araby” was beginning to become widely known.
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Coffee comes to Europe
European travellers who traveled to Near East brought back stories of a mysterious 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 the new drink with fear or suspicion and called this drink as the “bitter creation of Satan.” Local clergy opposed coffee when it arrived in Venice in 1615. The debate was so intense that the Pope Clement VIII was asked to intervene. He decided to try the drink for himself prior to making a decision. He was so impressed by the drink that he granted the papal blessing.
Despite the controversy coffee houses soon becoming centers of socializing and interaction in the main cities in England, Austria, France, Germany and Holland. There was a time when in England “penny university” began to pop up, so they were named for the fact that for the price of a penny , one could buy a cup coffee and have a stimulating conversations.
Coffee was able to replace popular breakfast beverages that were popular at the time alcohol and wine. People who consumed coffee instead of alcohol would start their day energized and focused in a way, and, unsurprisingly it was evident that their quality of work improved dramatically. (We prefer to consider this as a prelude to the modern office cafe service.)
In the late 17th centurythere was nearly 300 coffee shops in London and many of them attracted similar patrons, which included shippers, merchants, brokers and artists.
Many companies grew out of these coffee houses that were specialized. Lloyd’s of London, for example, began within the Edward Lloyd’s Coffee House.
The New World
In the late 1600’s coffee was introduced in the mid-1600’s to New Amsterdam, later called New York by the British.
Although coffee shops quickly started to pop up in the city, tea remained the preferred beverage across the New World until 1773, when colonists rebelled against an imposing tax on tea, imposed on them by King George III. The uprising, dubbed”the” Boston Tea Party, would forever alter the American consumption habits towards coffee.
Plantations All Around the World
The demand for coffee increased and grow, there was a fierce competition for coffee to be grown in other regions of Arabia.
The Dutch finally received seedlings in the latter half of 17th century. Their initial attempts to plant seeds in India were unsuccessful however they succeeded through their efforts at Batavia located on Java, the main island in Java located in the present-day Indonesia.
The plant thrived, and within a short time the Dutch enjoyed a thriving and expanding trade in coffee. The Dutch then extended their coffee plantations to islands like Sumatra as well as Celebes.
Arriving to the Americas
In 1714, the mayor of Amsterdam gave an early coffee plant to the King Louis XIV of France. The King had it plant in the Royal Botanical Garden in Paris. The year 1723 was when a new naval officer named Gabriel de Clieu received seeds from the King’s garden. Despite a difficult journeywhich included a storm that was utterly terrifying and a saboteur trying to destroy the seedling and pirate attacks -the officer was able to get the seedling safely to Martinique.
When it was planted the seedling prospered, but is also believed to have facilitated the spread of more than 18 million trees of coffee on Martinique. Martinique over the following 50 years. What’s more remarkable is the fact that it was also the source of all coffee trees in across the Caribbean, South and Central America.
The renowned Brazilian coffee is a result of its ancestry its existence to Francisco de Mello Palheta, who was sent by Emperor Napoleon for French Guiana to get coffee seeds. The French weren’t willing to give away their beans, but they did share with the French Governor’s wife, impressed by his attractive appearance was so impressed that she gave him a massive bouquet of blooms before he left. Buried inside were the seeds of coffee to create what is now an estimated billion-dollar business.
Travelers, missionaries traders, colonists and missionaries carried coffee seeds across new lands while coffee plants were planted across the globe. The coffee plantations were set up in stunning tropical forests as well as on the rugged mountains. Some crops were successful, while other crops were less successful. New nations were founded by the coffee industry. Fortunes were created and lost. In the 1800s, coffee was one of the most lucrative export crop. Following crude oil, coffee is the most sought-after commodity in the world.