As the most consumed drink on the planet, coffee is something that many people depend on each day to survive. But where exactly did it come from?
According to legend, a young Ethiopian goat herder discovered coffee in the 9th Century when he found his goats eating the fruit of a strange plant. The goats were all very lively and jumping around all day after eating the fruit. The boy tried the bright red berries and found himself vitalised and wide awake. He decided to take the fruit to a local Muslim holy man, who disapproved of the fruit and their effects. He threw the beans in a fire, where it started to roast and gave off a very delightful and enticing aroma that attracted other holy men to investigate. The beans were raked from the fire and boiled in water, producing the world’s first cup of coffee. The coffee beans spread to Egypt and neighbouring countries where the mystics used it to increase concentration and vitality.
The word coffee made its way into English via the Dutch word koffie, taken from the Turkish and Arabic word kahve. The meaning of the Arabic word is quit aptly the “wine of the bean”, a very accurate and effective description. In the modern times that we now find ourselves, there are literary thousands of different combinations and uses for coffee, from the actual drinking of it in hundreds of different flavours, styles and roasts, to coffee flavoured chocolate, sweets and cosmetic products.
The first coffee house in England was allegedly opened in St. Micheal’s Alley in Cornhill in the early 1650 and by 1675 there were over 3’000 coffee houses throughout England. The popularity of coffee quickly spread world-wide as the captains of all the large trading ships took coffee plants with them around the globe, establishing large coffee plantations in the West Indies, Brazil and Colombia. Today coffee is grown on all the major continents, even Australia has seven Arabica producers, making the supply and distribution of coffee world-wide.
In 1922, 2.2 million kilograms of coffee left the ports of Ethiopia, in less than fifteen years, that total more than tripled, and the demand is still on the increase today.