A Brief History of Coffee

Legend says that coffee was discovered by a goat herder in Ethiopia. The goats in his field seemed to be extremely lively after eating the coffee berries…..he tried them and found that he too felt quite stimulated! The Arabica tree is indigenous to Ethiopia and has been known there since the beginning of recorded history.

 

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Humble Beginnings…

In its early history, a dried version of the coffee bean was eaten either straight or mixed with grain… sort of an early version of granola. It was well suited for consumption while traveling long distances. Coffee was eventually transported to Yemen where a form of sun tea was made of the coffee cherries. It would become fermented after some time… coffee “wine”, if you will. In its early years, it was considered a medicinal beverage probably because of its energizing effect.

 

When Muhammed arrived in Medina around 620 A.D., he was appalled by the rampant drunkenness there and decreed that the faithful should no longer consume alcohol. Coffee (known there as Qishr) replaced alcohol and is still used there today, in the form of coffee sun tea or as a beverage brewed by boiling water.

 

In the early 1400’s, brewed coffee as we know it was first developed. This is about the time that metal pots that could boil water came into use. Rather than roasting the beans first, the coffee cherries, leaves, and seeds were simply boiled in the water.

 

The first coffee house was established on the Piazza di San Marco in Venice in 1792. Soon after, the French and Austrians began opening coffee houses of their own. From these humble beginnings, coffee spread rapidly throughout Europe and the developed world.

 

Americans were introduced to coffee around 1683. New York, known as New Amsterdam at the time, was a city of tea drinkers. William Penn, founder of the Pennsylvania colony, was the first recorded coffee drinker of this era. He hired a New York importer to secure a stash of coffee for his own personal use.