The history of coffee is absolutely fascinating. Just think of all the places around the world that our favorite brew comes from. We will walk you through the history of coffee timeline.
Beer holds the distinction of being the oldest brew made by man, and wine comes in second. They have found beer recipes from as early as 6000 BC, whereas the most ancient winemaking dates from around the turn of the first millennium. Coffee is a little younger, being discovered a few hundred years later. There is evidence found by archeologists, however, of people eating coffee berries a hundred thousand years ago.
In the history of coffee, an Ethiopian legend tells the tale of a goat herder, who watched his goats eating the red berries from a tree nearby. The goat then exhibited signs of excitement. The goat herder tried the berries, and he also felt a surge of energy. By 600 AD, the coffee berry and the subsequent drink made from the dried and ground seeds had traveled to present-day Yemen and onto the Arabian peninsula.
In India, the history of coffee story goes that a native was smuggling the coffee seeds out of Arabia near 1650 AD, and planting them in the Chikmagalur hills. It was the law in Arabia that coffee beans capable of germination could not be exported, so they were able to control the coffee trade for centuries. Whether this story is fact or myth, coffee from the Chikmagalur area now produces almost a third of India’s coffee production.
The ever-exploring Europeans took the beans to many other countries during their extensive travels. The Dutch introduced coffee to Java in the 1700s. One of those trees, according to the history of coffee, became the famous tree presented to the king of France. Louis XIV, finding the tree did not like frost, built a greenhouse so the tree could continue to produce the beans that made the drink he loved so much. It is said that the trees introduced to South and Central America came from the trees in France.
According to the history of coffee, in 1720, trees were planted in Martinique and grew very well in the Caribbean climate. Trees from this area were then transplanted to Mexico, where they continued to thrive.
Coffee also grew well in French Guiana around this time. Francisco de Melo Palheta persuaded the governor’s wife to help him smuggle seeds out of the country. She handed him a bouquet of flowers containing the precious seeds as he set sail for Brazil. The history of coffee speaks for itself… Brazil is now the largest coffee producer on Earth. The coffee seeds completed the history of coffee timeline and their circuit of the earth, arriving in the late 1800s in Tanzania and Kenya. It took six centuries to return to Africa.
It is a true wonder that a beverage could create so many tales of intrigue and create so much business. But ever since the very beginning, this dark drink has held billions of people in its thrall, while fascinating, enriching and even curing some. There are many legends about how the coffee plant originated, but reliable history places the discovery in Ethiopia around 600 AD. After seeing the stimulating effects of eating the berries, they were taken to Arabia, where it acquired its name. In the Renaissance, commercial production and distribution of this addicting drink grew and expanded. By the late 1700s, it was grown on plantations and was a popular drink in Europe, Asia, North and South American and in the Middle East. It also knew no social boundaries, being enjoyed by everyone, regardless of class.
Coffee also became known as a cure for many illnesses. Amazingly, there is some truth to the tale. Some studies have suggested that sperm will swim faster, longer and farther in fluid mixed with coffee. Could it be that sperm is stimulated by caffeine? One study from Harvard followed 100,000 people for almost 20 years. They concluded that moderate coffee consumption could help reduce the disease of diabetes. Other studies show a reduction in cirrhosis of the liver and an improvement in asthma.
Like wine, coffee contains antioxidants that are reputed to help maintain cardiac health, though some controversy remains. Coffee is also a known diuretic that encourages more frequent urination. Some also claim that caffeine stimulation causes nerve degeneration over the long term. Those withdrawing from caffeine experience insomnia, and, caffeine is a known natural insecticide.
The coffee commodity, traded in all the stock exchanges in the world, continues to grow in popularity. While statistics say that only 10-20% of adults drink coffee every day, that small amount brings in sales around $9 billion every year. That’s a lot of java. Then add the sales for raw beans, grinders, roasters, brewers and cups, and you end up with some astounding figures. The future of coffee businesses continues to rise. Look at Starbucks… they have over 10,000 retail outlets around the world.
Besides specialty shops, which are springing up on every corner, people are preparing their own brews at home. Espresso, invented in 1901, has continued to grow in popularity ever since. With the new coffee machines available to everyone, it is easier than ever to prepare a straight shot, a long shot or a double shot right in your kitchen. By adding a few ingredients, straight coffee is miraculously transformed into a mocha, a latte, or a cappuccino. Flavored coffees are all the rage and come in as many varieties as you can dream of.
So, coffee continues its quest for world domination. Maybe the legends aren’t so far from the truth. We hope you enjoyed this short tour of the history of coffee and coffee legends.