History of coffee
Coffee has a history that is as rich as the beverage itself.
If you're like me, you're completely addicted to your morning cup of coffee, setting your coffee maker to start brewing before you even wake. Coffee is a huge industry in the United States, and its health benefits have been debated in newspapers and health magazines. In spite of the debate, Starbucks and independent coffee stands are springing up on every available street corner, and the deliciously addictive liquid seems to be here to stay. But where did it come from? What is the history of coffee?
Early history of coffee
Mention of coffee goes back in history to the 9th century. It was first mentioned in an Ethiopian legend about a shepherd who noticed his goats eating wild coffee berries, after which they had amazing energy. This also gives a possible origin of the word "coffee," coming from the Ethiopian Kingdom of Kaffa.
East African tribes began to use coffee berries as a way to increase their energy and stamina during battle. They did not drink coffee; they mixed ground coffee berries with animal fat and rolled it into balls. Africans also made a wine from the coffee berries.
Coffee wasn't brewed as the strong hot drink we know now it until around the 11th century, on the Arabian Peninsula. The Arab world has a strange and complicated history with coffee, because some of the most conservative Muslim Imams banned the substance because of its effects as a stimulant.
Introduction to Europe
Eventually, coffee was exported by Arab merchants into Italy, where it made its first appearance on the European continent. Many Christians called for the drink to be banned because of its association with the Muslim religion. Its popularity won out, though, and in 1600 it was officially announced by Pope Clement XVIII that coffee was a "Christian" drink. In 1645, the first European coffeehouse was opened. Through trading companies, the exporting of coffee spread from Italy to the rest of Europe and to the British Isles.
The Dutch had the biggest shipping industry in the 17th century, including many colonies in Indonesia. After becoming the first large-scale importer of coffee, the Dutch started cultivating coffee on plantations in their Indonesian colonies.
Introduction to the Americas
Coffee cultivation began in Latin America later in the 17th century, when the first plants were brought to Martinique by the French. Coffee was introduced to the United States during the Colonial period, and became more and more popular as it became difficult to obtain British tea during the Revolutionary War. Coffee consumption increased even more during the War of 1812, when the British refused to export tea to the United States. By the Civil War era, coffee had become a regular part of the American lifestyle.
Today, coffee is a huge commodity, and is second only to oil in the amount being traded. Brazil is the number one producer of coffee, followed by Vietnam, Colombia, Indonesia, and Ethiopia.
Coffee's history is as rich as the beverage itself. When you have your morning "cuppa joe," you're drinking a beverage that's been around for over 1,000 years, and will probably still be popular into the next millenium.