A Brief History of Coffee Around the World

Coffee is the most popular beverage in the world. In fact, more than 400 million cups of coffee are consumed around the world each year.

Have you ever wondered where coffee got its start? How did we discover this magical beverage and how did it get so popular?

Keep reading for a brief history of coffee and to learn more about the origins of the magical beans.

A Brief History of Coffee: Origin Theories

The exact origin of coffee is not known for sure. The history of coffee that we believe to be true dates back to the 15th century, but it’s possible that coffee was around even before that.

It’s believed the coffee bean originated from Ethiopia. Ethiopian legend credits the discovery of coffee to a goat herder named Kaldi. The legend has it that Kaldi discovered the effects of coffee by observing his goats.

He watched them eat berries from a certain tree and afterward he noticed they had so much energy they couldn’t sleep at night.

Kaldi shared his findings with an abbot at his local monastery. The abbot then made a drink using these berries that kept him awake at night through evening prayer. The abbot then spread the word to other monks and the knowledge of coffee’s energizing power quickly started spreading.

It didn’t take long for word to spread east and for coffee to reach the Arabian peninsula. From there, coffee was on its way to spreading around the globe.

While there are several theories of how coffee was discovered and used prior to the 15th century, the most credible evidence is from Sufi Imam Muhammad Ibn Said Al Dhabhani, who imported goods from Ethiopia to Yemen. We may never know the exact origins of coffee, but we are fairly sure it originated in Ethiopia and spread to the Arabian peninsula from there.

Next Stop – The Arabian Peninsula

In the 15th century, coffee was being grown in Yemen and by the 16th century, it had spread to Turkey, Egypt, and Syria. It was during its time on the Arabian peninsula that coffee began to be cultivated and traded.

Coffee was consumed in people’s homes as well as in the first versions of coffee shops. These public coffee houses were called “gahveh khaneh.” They become popular hubs for all sorts of social activities in cities across the Near East.

These coffee houses were not too different from the coffee shops in our modern world. Visitors listened to music, watched performances, discussed current events, and even played chess.

The area saw many visitors to the city of Mecca each year. These visitors referred to coffee as the “wine of Araby” and spread their knowledge of the beverage to their home countries.

Coffee Spreads to Europe

Coffee had become a popular drink across Europe by the 17th century thanks to the stories of European travelers to the Near East. These travelers told tales of a dark black beverage.

Not all Europeans were quick to jump on the bandwagon. Some were suspicious or afraid of coffee, so much so that the local clergy in Venice condemned it. Coffee caused such a stir in Europe that Pope Clement VIII had to intervene.

Before he made a decision, he tried a cup of coffee for himself and enjoyed it so much he gave his approval. Even with the controversy coffee houses were established as centers of information and social activities in major cities across the continent.

It was at this time that coffee became a common breakfast beverage, replacing beer and wine. As you can imagine, this switch gave people more energy and improved the quality of their work.

Coffee houses became a staple of society for all types of people. Fun fact – Lloyd’s of London was established at Edward Lloyd’s Coffee House.

The New World: Tea vs Coffee

Coffee was brought to New Amsterdam (later to be called New York) in the mid-1600s by the British. However, tea was still the most popular drink in the New World.

In 1773, the colonists staged a protest against taxes on tea called the Boston Tea Party. It was at this point that coffee replaced tea as the beverage of choice for the New World.

Growth Around the Globe

As a result of the increased demand for coffee around the world, there was an increase in competition to cultivate coffee outside of the Arabian peninsula.

The Dutch were eager to cultivate the beverage and first tried to plant seedlings in India towards the end of the 17th century. Though their first efforts failed, they were later successful on Java in what is now called Indonesia. The Dutch took their success and expanded their cultivation efforts.

In the 17th century, the Mayor of Amsterdam gave the gift of coffee to France. The French began planting coffee trees on the island of Martinique. From there, coffee trees were planted throughout Central and South America and the Carribean.

Missionaries, colonists, travelers, and traders spread coffee seeds all around the world during their explorations. Coffee became one of the most profitable crops and commodities in the world. Plantations were developed all over and nations were founded from the economic success of the coffee industry.

Try Our Coffee Today

Hopefully, this brief history of coffee has provided some insight as to why coffee became so popular and how the crop withstood the test of time to remain one of the most sought after commodities in the world.

It’s hard to imagine living in the modern world without coffee. Fortunately, you don’t have to. We offer a wide selection of premium coffee products.

Check out our coffee products here and try some for yourself.