Brief Coffee History

Humble Beginnings

In its early stages, the coffee bean took on various forms of consumption. It was either eaten dried, on its own or mixed with grain, resembling an early version of granola. This adaptability made it an ideal travel companion, enabling long-distance journeys. As the coffee trade expanded, Yemen became a pivotal hub where coffee cherries were used to create a type of sun tea, which, over time, would ferment and yield a coffee “wine” of sorts. Initially recognized for its energizing properties, coffee was often regarded as a medicinal beverage.

Around 620 A.D., when Muhammed arrived in Medina. He discouraged alcohol consumption due to rampant drunkenness. Coffee, known locally as Qishr, stepped in as a replacement and is still enjoyed in Medina today, brewed as a coffee sun tea or by boiling water.

It was during the early 1400s that brewed coffee, as we now know it, first emerged. This coincided with the advent of metal pots capable of boiling water. Rather than roasting the beans beforehand, coffee cherries, leaves, and seeds were directly boiled in water.

Coffee made its way to the American shores around 1683, during a time when New York, then called New Amsterdam, primarily favored tea. William Penn, the founder of the Pennsylvania colony, was among the first recorded coffee drinkers of that era. He enlisted a New York importer to procure a supply of coffee for his personal consumption.

The establishment of the first coffee house occurred in 1792 on the Piazza di San Marco in Venice. This milestone was followed by the opening of coffee houses by the French and Austrians. From these modest beginnings, coffee swiftly spread throughout Europe and the developed world, weaving its rich and aromatic influence.