The history of coffee is rich and fascinating, with many believing that Arabica was born in Ethiopia and South Sudan and Robusta in West Africa.
- 9th Century: The story of coffee's discovery is often traced back to a young goat herder named Kaldi in the region of Ethiopia. According to legend, Kaldi noticed that his goats became unusually energetic after eating berries from a certain tree. Curious, he tried the berries himself, experiencing a newfound alertness.
Discovery and Early Use:
- 15th Century: Coffee cultivation is believed to have begun in the Ethiopian region of Kaffa. The coffee plant, Coffea arabica, was cultivated for its energising properties.
- 16th Century: Coffee spread to the Arabian Peninsula. Yemeni traders brought coffee plants back from Ethiopia and began cultivating them. The first coffeehouses, known as qahveh khaneh, emerged in Mecca, where people gathered to drink coffee, socialise, and engage in intellectual discussions.
Coffee in the Arab World:
- 17th Century: Coffeehouses became cultural hubs in the Arab world, fostering intellectual exchange. The popularity of coffee grew, and the first coffeehouse in Istanbul opened in 1554.
- Coffee Smuggling: To maintain a monopoly on coffee cultivation, Arab traders prohibited the exportation of fertile coffee beans. However, a pilgrim named Baba Budan smuggled seven coffee beans from Yemen to India in the 17th century, contributing to the spread of coffee cultivation.
Coffee in Europe:
- 17th Century: Coffee arrived in Europe, and the first coffeehouse opened in Venice in 1645. Coffeehouses became centres of social activity, intellectual exchange, and business discussions.
- England: The first English coffeehouse opened in Oxford in 1650, followed by establishments in London. Coffeehouses were sometimes referred to as "penny universities" because for the price of a cup of coffee, one could engage in stimulating conversations.
Coffee in the Ottoman Empire:
- 17th Century: Coffeehouses, known as kahvehane, became an integral part of Ottoman culture. They were venues for socialising, playing games, and discussing politics.
Coffee in the Americas:
- 17th Century: Coffee was introduced to the New World. The first coffeehouse in North America opened in Boston in 1676.
- 18th Century: European colonial powers established coffee plantations in the Caribbean and South America. Coffee became a major commodity in the global trade market.
Rise of Coffee Plantations:
- 19th Century: Coffee cultivation expanded to various regions worldwide, including Central and South America, Africa, and Asia. Plantations became large-scale enterprises.
Instant Coffee and Coffee Culture:
- 19th Century: The invention of instant coffee by George Washington in the United States and the development of the espresso machine in Italy in the late 19th century contributed to the modern coffee culture.
Coffee in the 20th Century:
- 20th Century: The 20th century witnessed the rise of multinational coffee companies, the spread of coffee franchises, and the development of new brewing technologies.
Specialty Coffee Movement:
- Late 20th Century: The late 20th century saw the emergence of the specialty coffee movement, focusing on high-quality beans, sustainable practices, and artisanal roasting.
- 21st Century: Coffee is a global phenomenon, with a diverse range of brewing methods, coffeehouse chains, and a growing emphasis on sustainability, fair trade, and the appreciation of unique coffee flavours.
The history of coffee is a dynamic and evolving narrative that reflects cultural, social, and economic changes over centuries. From its legendary origins in Ethiopia to its integral role in modern society, coffee continues to be a beloved beverage that transcends borders and cultures.