Like many people around the world we love coffee. This amazing drink gives us a boost in the morning, keeps us awake during the day and – when prepared correctly – tastes amazing. But where does it come from? How and why did we start to drink coffee?
The origin of coffee is debatable and the only thing that experts and scientists agree upon is the fact that we don’t know the origin of coffee drinking for sure. However, we do have some clues as to where the whole coffee drinking originated.
Legend of Kaldi
Perhaps the most accepted myth concerning the origin of coffee would be the Legend of Kaldi. In the Ethiopian highlands there was goatherd named Kaldi who by chance discovered that his goats became extremely spirited and did not want to sleep at night when they ate a certain type of berry found in the hills.
After he noticed this going on for quite some time he reported his findings to the local monastery that in turn made a drink from the berries. Obviously the drink kept the monks at the monastery alert and wide awake during the evening prayers. Soon after, the rumor about this ‘amazing drink’ spread around and slowly but steadily moved to the east where it at some point reached the Arabian Peninsula.
Arabs and the rest of the world
It is not completely known when (and if..) the Legend of Kaldi occurred. However, we do have direct evidence that Arabs where the first folk to not only cultivate coffee but also to begin its trade across the globe. During the 14th en by the 15th century coffee was being grown in many areaa of Arabia and by the 16th century it became famous across Egypt, Syria and Turkey.
At the time coffee was not only drunk at homes, but even special public coffee houses were being built so people could drink coffee even outside their own homes. Slowly but steadily these coffee houses became more than just a place to drink coffee. People came there to socialize, indulge themselves in conversations, listen to music, play chess etc. As a matter of fact, the houses became the center for exchanging information in many cities and were soon called ‘houses of the wise’.
With its strategic positioning between west and east, Arabia soon turned to trading coffee with the west. Many pilgrims came into the country on a yearly basis to visit the holy city of Mecca. Because of this people across the whole world learned about the coffee houses and the drink itself.
It didn’t take long for the coffee to find its way into Western, Southern and Northern Europe somewhere in the 16th and 17th century. During the mid 16oo’s coffee was of course also brought along with the explorers who went overseas to find ‘the new world’. Soon the drink arrived in New Amsterdam, what is known today as New York, one of the biggest cities in the world.
During the course of the years coffee demands began to rise and Arabia alone couldn’t produce quite enough for the whole world. Though they tried to maintain their coffee monopoly for a long time, somewhere during the 17th century the Dutch finally managed to cultivate some seeds on their own. The first attempts to plant the seeds in India failed, but the island of Batavia (Indonesia) turned out to be a coffee paradise which produced enough coffee to compete with the original Arab coffee export.
In the centuries thereafter coffee has managed to establish itself as one of the most popular crops and drinks in the whole world. Missionaries, travelers and traders continued to bring coffee wherever they went, thus spreading the addictive drink with them. By the end of the 18th century and up until today, coffee is one of the most profitable export crops.