Coffee is one of the most popular beverages in the world, consumed by millions of people every day. The drink is known for its energizing effects and unique taste, but have you ever wondered when coffee was first discovered? The history of coffee is long and fascinating, with its origins dating back centuries.
In this article, we will explore the origins of coffee and trace its journey from the discovery of coffee beans to the emergence of coffee culture. We will look at how coffee was first discovered, how it spread across the world, and how it has evolved over time. From the hills of Ethiopia to the bustling cities of Europe and the Americas, the story of coffee is one of adventure, innovation, and cultural exchange.
So, sit back, grab a cup of your favorite coffee, and join us on a journey through time as we explore the fascinating history of one of the world’s most beloved beverages.
The Legendary Origins of Coffee
The history of coffee covers several periods. The history of coffee dates back to ancient times and is rooted in the first civilizations of the Middle East, although the origin of coffee is still unclear.
It is believed that the Ethiopian ancestors of the Oromo people were the first to notice the stimulating effect of coffee beans. However, there is no direct evidence on this account, no evidence has been preserved about where coffee was grown in Africa or who among Africans could have known about the existence of coffee before the 17th century. According to a popular legend, a 9th-century Ethiopian goatherd named Kaldi discovered the coffee plant after observing his flock energized by chewing on the plant. The curious shepherd decided to try the berries and leaves of these bushes. He didn’t like the taste, but he noticed that his fatigue had left him and his mood had improved considerably. Soon, word of the tonic drink spread throughout the neighborhood.
Another legend credits a Sheikh Omar, who found berries while starving after being exiled from Mocha. After attempting to chew and roast the berries, Omar boiled them and found that the resulting liquid revitalized and sustained him.
The later appearance of both legends (the first in 1671) and the lack of evidence (from Kaldim himself or Sheikh) lead some researchers to assume that neither legend is reliable.
Transformation into A Coffee Culture
Missionary monks also heard about this discovery and began experimenting with the plant. Through trial and error, they eventually created a recipe for a decoction of coffee leaves that restored people’s vigor, relieved fatigue, and helped monks stay awake during long prayers. They also developed a method of soaking the berries in water and later found a way to dry the beans in the sun to facilitate transportation.
The first evidence of coffee consumption or knowledge of the coffee tree dates back to the mid-15th century in the Sufi monasteries of Yemen. They appear in the mid-15th century in the stories of Ahmed al-Ghaffar in Yemen, where coffee beans were first roasted and brewed to keep awake during their religious rituals.
The culture of coffee was formed gradually over two centuries, when wild coffee in Ethiopia gained popularity and the Great Coffee Road stretched across the Red Sea to the Arabian Peninsula. The drink became especially popular in the city of Mocha in Yemen, where merchants were the first to grow coffee plantations. For two centuries, Yemen supplied coffee to the entire Middle East. People in many cities and countries consumed decoctions of coffee leaves and berries and even made them into chewing balls to energize themselves. This is how the real coffee culture was born in the 12th century.
By the 16th century, coffee had spread to the rest of the Middle East, Persia, Turkey, and North Africa. The first coffee seeds were smuggled out of the Middle East by Sufi Baba Budan from Yemen to India. Coffee had spread to Italy by 1600 and then to the rest of Europe, Indonesia, and the Americas. The first European coffee house opened in Venezia in 1645.