History of Coffee
was first discovered in Eastern Africa in an area known today as Ethiopia. A
popular legend refers to a goat herder by the name of Kaldi, who observed his
goats acting unusually frisky after eating berries from a bush. Curious about
this phenomenon, Kaldi tried eating the berries himself. He found that these
berries gave him a renewed energy. The news of this energy-laden fruit quickly
spread throughout the region. Hearing about this amazing fruit, Monks dried the
berries so that they could be transported to distant monasteries. They
reconstituted these berries in water, ate the fruit, and drank the liquid to
provide stimulation for a more awakened time for prayer.
Coffee Leaves Africa
Coffee berries were transported from Ethiopia to the Arabian Peninsula, and were
first cultivated in what today is the country of Yemen. From there, coffee
traveled to Turkey where coffee beans were roasted for the first time over open
fires. The roasted beans were crushed, and then boiled in water, creating a
crude version of the beverage we enjoy today.
Coffee Arrives in Europe
first arrived on the European continent by means of Venetian trade merchants.
Once in Europe this new beverage fell under harsh criticism from the Catholic
Church. Many felt the pope should ban coffee, calling it a drink of the devil.
To their surprise, the pope, already a coffee drinker, blessed coffee declaring
it a truly Christian beverage. Coffee houses spread quickly across Europe
becoming centers for intellectual exchange.
Coffee Travels to America
the 1700's, coffee found its way to the Americas by means of a French infantry
captain who nurtured one small plant on its long journey across the Atlantic.
This one plant became the predecessor of over 19 million trees on the Caribbean
Island within 50 years. It was from this humble beginning that the coffee plant
found its way to the rest of the tropical regions of South and Central America.
Coffee was declared the national drink of the then colonized United States by
the Continental Congress, in protest of the excessive tax on tea.
Espresso, a recent innovation in the way to prepare coffee, was discovered in
1822, with the innovation of the first espresso machine in France. The Italians
perfected this wonderful machine and were the first to manufacture it. Espresso
has become such an integral part of Italian life and culture that there are
presently over 200,000 espresso bars in Italy.
Coffee in the 21st Century
Today, coffee is a giant global industry employing
that 20 million people. This commodity ranks second only to petroleum in terms
of dollars traded worldwide. With over 400 billion cups consumed every year,
coffee is the world's most popular beverage. In Brazil alone, over 5 million
people are employed in the cultivation and harvesting of over 3 billion coffee
plants. Sales of premium specialty coffees in the United States have reached the
multi-billion dollar level, and are increasing significantly on an annual basis.