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Coffee (I love You.)

February 14, 2013 Rozanne Woodward 0 Comments

Coffee is embedded in to our system of life so much now, that it is one of, if not THE most widely traded commodity in the world.

But how well do we know the history of coffee? This caffeine addict went to find out. It is widely believed that the Ethiopians of the fifth century first realised the rejuvenating and energy properties of coffee… the Oromo people. In the ninth-century, a spurious goatherd by the name of Kaldi first discovered coffee… at least that’s the story… or one story.

Kaldis’ name did not appear in writing until around the mid 1600’s. If the story is true, then it does stand to reason that coffee spread from Ethiopia through to the Yemen and Egypt and with Egypt being at that time, a major country and spread further from there.

The earliest credible record of the coffee tree or the consuming of a coffee beverage was in the mid fifteenth century with the Sufi monasteries in the Yemen. By the 16th century, coffee had travelled to the Middle East, Turkey, Persia (Iran), and the through to Italy and the rest of Europe before spreading through to Indonesia and the Americas.

Many accounts of the origins of coffee are available, my favourite is much similar to that of the discovery of tequila, in that a Yemenite Sufi mystic by the name of, Ghothul Akbar Nooruddin, was travelling through Ethipia and discovered some birds that had an unusual vitality. When he tried the berries that the birds were eating, he also experienced this vitality. (Tequila was first discovered by caballeros riding through Mexico and found birds who were acting drunk after drinking the fluid from the Blue Agave as it rotted).

Another, more believable story, is one that involves the spurious Kaldi… Kaldi was a goat herder somewhere in and around the area we now know as Ethiopia, he noticed that his goats had more energy when they nibbled the red berries of a certain bush. Upon trying these berries for himself, he also experienced this same vitality.

Kaldi then gathered some of the berries and took them to a Muslim holy man who after experiencing them for himself, disapproved of their effects. The holy man then threw the berries in to the fire. From the fire, an enticing aroma rose up, and the roasted beans were quickly raked out f the fire and ground up and dissolved in to hot water…the first cup of coffee.

The Oromo tribe are the early ancestors of today’s Ethiopians and are recognised as to being the first to recognize the revitalizing effects of the coffee bean. If the stories are true, then the discovery of the first cup of coffee as we now know it must be attributed to the early people of the Yemen. There is however, no direct evidence as the whereabouts in Africa that coffee was grown or who among the natives first used it as a stimulant, nor known about it, earlier than the seventeenth century.

Over the expanse of time and throughout many parts of the world, coffee has been banned by religious orders and Imams for the effects of it has on humans. In 1600, Pope Clement VIII confirmed coffee to be a heresy and sinful to those who drank it.

It was in 1616 that coffee was first brought to mainland Europe by the Dutch, however, the first coffee shop was opened in Venice, Italy in 1645. 1668 saw the first coffee shop to be opened in London, by the same Edward Lloyd who went on to start Lloyds Insurance.

Coffee has been the subject of many an issue over the years, from women launching a petition against coffee in 1674 through to slaves being used to cultivate the coffee plantation in Cuba and South America. Haiti, or san Domingo as was formerly known, was a major grower of coffee, but a slave revolt in the region all but destroyed the coffee trade there from which it was never able to recover.


Did You Know?

  • Coffee shops make up the FASTEST GROWING part of the restaurant business, checking in with a 7% annual growth rate!
  • World coffee production is estimated at 110 – 120 million bags per year!
  • 14 billion espresso coffees are consumed each year in Italy, reaching over 200,000 coffee bars, and still growing!
  • Americans consume 400 million cups of coffee per day, or equivalent to 146,000,000,000 (146 Billion) cups of coffee per year; making the United States the LEADING CONSUMER of coffee in the world
  • Japan ranks number 3 in the world for coffee consumption.
  • Coffee represents 75% of all the caffeine consumed in the United States.
  • Café Bars average sales of 230 cups a day.

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