The History of Coffee

10 October, 2016

Coffee, History, Slider


The History of Coffee

Nowadays, coffee is such a big part of our lives that we rarely stop for a second to think about it. What does it mean? “Coffee” is a curious word, isn’t it? The word “coffee” was introduced into the English language from the Arabic word “qahwah”. The word defines a sort of wine; however it is also related to “quwwa”, meaning “power”, “energy”. But what is the history of coffee? What caused it to become not only a revitalizing beverage, but a reason to build a titanic industry of enduring prominence?

The energising effect of the coffee bean was first discovered in Ethiopia as early as the 10th century. The legend goes that the Ethiopian goatherd Kaldi was bemused by the untypical behaviour of his goats- they were usually very calm animals that rarely gave him any trouble. This time they were strutting around unnaturally energised. He wanted to find out what might be causing this odd agitation and noticed that the goats were eating the red berries and leaves of an unknown tree nearby. He decided to taste the berries and joined the jolly goats in their “dance”, becoming “the happiest herder in happy Arabia!”  Afterwards, a monk saw the dancing herder with his goats and thought this plant was a miracle- finally a way to stay awake during his long prayers! He started boiling the plant and gave the foundation of the beverage that today has captured the hearts of many. Or so the legend says…

This sort of coffee plant has white blossoms, which smell like jasmine, and red fruit. The leaves of the “magical fruit”, as it was known then, were then boiled and the blend was considered to posses healing qualities.

Then, in the mid 14th century, coffee was exported to Yemen by the Yemeni traders who started cultivating it. The Yemeni Sufis used coffee to improve on their concentration and it was also related to spirituality. It was in The Ottoman Empire where a new way of making coffee was discovered in the 16th century: the beans were roasted over a fire, which made the coffee taste richer and more aromatic.

Later on it was transported to Egypt and in the 17th Century to Europe and the Americas. The spread of coffee to Christian Europe was initially met with strong negativity from the Catholic church as it was considered “the devil’s drink.”

Overall, the spread and popularity of the coffee bean is thought to have been two-fold. Firstly, the energising effects of the coffee helped people through the ages get through their daily routines and choirs just as much as today. Secondly, it is because of the coffee house. The coffee house has provided through the ages a place where people can meet, chat, entertain, write, read or simply pass the time, all for the price of a coffee. In the 21st Century this hasn’t changed. The requirements of a place to meet and chat are still true as always over a beverage.






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