Coffee has become a hot commodity in almost every country around the world. According to National Geographic, coffee is the second most widely consumed drink in the world after tea, but when it brews, I mean, boils down to it, how did coffee become so popular and where did it all begin? Here’s the telling history behind coffee and how it came to be the go-to drink to start your day.
There are no concrete answers on exactly when coffee was discovered, however, we can say that it all started with a story of an Abssynian goat herder in 850 A.D., Kaldi, who stumbled upon coffee after finding that his goats were full of energy from consuming the coffee cherries. Weird beginnings, but we’ll take it. After taking these cherries to a local monk who brewed the coffee cherries, word quickly spread across the Arabian peninsula and thus began the official cultivation and trade of coffee as a cross-cultural commodity.
By the 15th century, coffee became an increasingly popular drink often enjoyed in social settings and at home. Whether you were heading to a local festival or enjoying breakfast with family on a Saturday morning, locals in Yemen, Syria, Ethiopia, ancient Persia, Egypt, and Turkey could all be found enjoying a fresh cup of coffee.
With its growing popularity, coffee found its way across 17th century Europe. The dark beverage that we know and love today was once condemned by the local clergy in Venice in 1615. After causing quite a stir, Pope Clement VIII intervened and quickly found that this satisfying and delicious beverage was worth his approval. Four centuries later, your go-to coffee shop might want to thank Pope Clement VIII for his approval of this once controversial beverage. This news quickly inspired the creation of coffee houses in England, France, Germany, and Holland. For one-penny, one could purchase a cup of coffee, replacing the popularity of drinking alcohol to begin one’s day.
Eventually, coffee made its way to the Americas competing with the most popular drink at the time and is still a leading commodity today, tea. Coffee became more popular as the taxes on tea continued to rise. Not only was coffee cheaper to trade, however, word of this new stimulant that made its way from Ethiopia, through Europe and now to the Americas, was the talk of the town.
Fun fact, according to the National Coffee Association, Gabriel de Clieu, a young naval officer, obtained a seedling from King Louis XIV’s coffee plant in 1723 and endured a dangerous voyage to plant the seedling in Martinique. His voyage was successful and is the parent of all coffee trees found throughout the Caribbean, Central, and South America. If you’ve found yourself sipping on a delicious cup of coffee sourced from these regions, you can technically say your coffee is from King Louis XIV’s coffee plant.
If you’d like to dive into the mysteries and history of Ethiopian coffee a little more, here’s a list of single-origin Ethiopian coffee to try on the Whole Latte Love site:
“The History of Coffee”. National Coffee Association of U.S.A., Inc. Web. 2 July 2019.
Stone, Daniel (2014). “The World’s Top Drink”. National Geographic Society, n.d. Web. 2 July 2019.