Coffee makes the world go ’round. Author and activist Edward Abbey says about coffee, “Our culture runs on coffee and gasoline, the first often tasting like the second.” Of course, coffee that tastes like gasoline is slightly concerning, but the sentiment is valid.
Coffee was first cultivated circa 1000 AD as a drink made from the whole coffee bean, hull and all.
It can be found in most cultures, throughout time and across the globe. Not only is it a breakfast drink for many people, but it is something that people love to learn about and experience with all of its variety.
Let’s take a brief glimpse into a brief history of coffee to find out how this wonderful bean has shaped culture as well as making our personal lives richer and more robust.
A Brief History Of Coffee
A brief history of coffee begins in the coffee forests of Ethiopia. Legend has it that coffee was first cultivated by an Ethiopian goat herder named Kaldi.
The legend tells that Kaldi first discovered coffee after noticing his goats would become wildly energetic after eating the beans of a certain tree, to the point that they wouldn’t sleep at night.
Kaldi reported his discovery to the abbot of a local monastery. The monk prepared a drink from the roasted berries which would help keep the monks energized throughout their evening prayers.
Word spread of the monks and their remarkable drink, spreading the gospel of coffee to the Arabian Peninsula.
Coffee Reaches The Arabian Peninsula
Coffee cultivation and trading began in earnest once it reached the Arabian Peninsula. Coffee was being cultivated and traded in Yemen by the 1400s. By the 1500s, it was known throughout Egypt, Persia, Turkey, and Syria.
Coffee houses began in the Arabian Peninsula. Known as qahveh khaneh, cafes became an important part of cultural life in the Arabian Peninsula.
In the qahveh khaneh, coffee drinkers would drink coffee and engage in a lively debate, exchange local news, watch performers, and play chess. They became such an important hub of information they became known as the “School of the Wise.”
With thousands of pilgrims visiting the city of Mecca from all over the globe, the gospel of coffee was spread all over the world.
Coffee Comes To Europe
By the 17th Century, the strong black beverage had come to Europe. Europeans didn’t take to coffee at first, calling it “the bitter invention of Satan.”
Coffee was even condemned by the church when it reached Venice in 1615. The local clergy asked the Pope to condemn the new drink. Pope Clement VIII decided to try the drink for himself before weighing.
The Pope discovered that he was a coffee lover and coffee was given the Papal Seal of Approval.
Coffee houses also became a central part of European cultural life, as they were on the Arabian Peninsula. Cafes began to spring up all over Germany, Austria, France, and Holland.
English coffee shops, known as “penny universities.” For one penny, visitors could get a cup of coffee and engage in lively conversation.
Coffee started to replace other drinks as the breakfast beverage of choice, including beer or wine. Coffee drinkers found their work improving, as they were energized, alert, and focused. Employers began bringing in coffee for their employees.
Soon, there were over 300 coffee shops located throughout London. Coffee houses would become important hubs for business, including traders, shippers, and artists.
Coffee Comes To America
Coffee started coming to America almost as soon as people did. It didn’t take immediately, however. Tea remained the most popular drink throughout the New World until 1773 when King George III imposed a heavy tea tax.
Drinking coffee became an act of rebellion against the crown, and America’s love affair with coffee began in earnest.
The Civil War also boosted coffee’s reputation in the United States, when soldiers relied on coffee to stay awake. Coffee may have taken a while to gain traction in North America, but eventually grew to become associated with the United States.
Teddy Roosevelt was rumored to have consumed a gallon of coffee a day. He is rumored to have been responsible for the slogan “Good To The Last Drop,” which would go on to be adopted by Maxwell House, after drinking coffee at Andrew Jackson’s residence, the Hermitage.
Like most things, Americans were one of the first to mass-produce coffee. In 1864, John and Charles Arbuckle bought a self-emptying coffee roaster by Jabez Burns.
They started selling roasted coffee beans in paper bags, known as “Ariosa,” which they would sell to cowboys. James Folgers started doing the same thing to gold miners.
People’s taste in coffee had grown elevated by the 1960s. This led to the first Starbucks opening in Seattle in 1971. This set the stage for the rise of indie coffee which has taken off in the 21st Century.
Coffee has had an amazing journey over the last 3000 years. It’ll be wild to see where coffee gets to by 5000 AD.
If you want to know more about how to find the best coffee, you can learn to compare types of coffee beans yourself.
Looking For More Interesting Food Stories?
Food is such an essential part of the culture. It’s such an important component of our daily lives, bringing us together over the table, sharing our cultures and expressing our heritage.
Now that you know a brief history of coffee, browse the rest of our Mr. Food articles today.