Coffee is one of the most popularly traded goods in the world. Over 60% of Americans report drinking it every day, and the average American consumes at least three cups of joe daily. Meanwhile, the world consumed over 20 billion pounds of bagged coffee from 2021 to 2022.
But coffee’s journey through time wasn’t as simple as you may think. The crop has a long, legend-riddled history that sparks as much enjoyment as the drink itself.
Where did Coffee Originate?
Coffee originated in Africa in what is now Ethiopia in the province of Kaffa. Also referred to as the Ethiopian plateau, this land is rich in coffee forests that coffee beans across the world can be traced back to. People began eating coffee berries over one thousand years ago, using them to make a special dough of animal fat and coffee beans. However, people would not start brewing the coffee we drink today until many years later.
The Discovery of Coffee
According to legend, a goat herder named Kaldi first discovered the power of coffee beans in the 9th century. While wandering the country with his herd, Kaldi noticed the goats were acting wildly after eating from a small shrub. Upon eating the fruit from the shrub himself, Kaldi also experienced a sudden burst of energy. He quickly labeled the fruit the “devil’s temptation” and tossed them in the fire. In the fire, the beans gave off an alluring smell, rousing nearby monks to take the beans from the flames and eventually discover the process of brewing coffee.
The First Brewed Coffee
Sometime after Kaldi’s discovery, the first modern coffee companies began forming. The coffee we know today was more similar to the coffee served in the Arabian Peninsula starting during the 15th century. This region was the first to actually roast the coffee beans and brew them with hot water, which is the coffee we know and love today. The coffee popularized in countries like Persia, Egypt, Syria, and Turkey quickly made its way to Europe, where it saw massive success.
The first European coffee company was founded by the Duch in 1616, with other European countries like Spain, Portugal, and France following close behind. Soon, coffee shops began springing up on the streets of European cities and were frequented by citizens. Today, those coffee shops are still popular locales where citizens and tourists alike gather to sit, chat, and enjoy a fresh cup of coffee.
Where Does Coffee Grow Today?
Today, coffee beans grow worldwide, with popular crops coming from Colombia, Guatemala, Ethiopia, Vietnam, Honduras, and Indonesia. Brazil is currently the number one coffee producer in the world.
Modern Day Coffee
Coffee in the 21st century looks much different than it did in the 9th and 16th centuries. While many people drink simple black coffee, the way coffee beans are processed, and quick brewing machines have modernized the practice of drinking coffee. Specialized coffee companies have perfected the techniques of roasting coffee beans to bring out distinct flavors, and farmers have found how different growing methods can create different crops.
The way we drink coffee has rapidly changed over the centuries as well. There are a variety of coffee drinks available today, making it an accessible option for everyone. Whether it’s a cappuccino, macchiato, latte, cortado, mocha, or something else, everyone can personalize their drink exactly how they’d like it. A far way from eating berries off a bush!