Posted on: 27 May, 2005

Author: Randy Wilson

Coffee has been a part of culture for over one thousand years. The history of coffee varies widely depending on which sources you use. This is especially true when something as powerful as coffee is involved, as coffee has brought much wealth and prosperity to individuals throughout the history of coffee. Coffee was discovered around 850 A.D. in the part of Africa now known as Ethiopia. According to one story that has been passed down through the generations, a sheep herder named Kaldi discovered coffee as he tended his sheep. He noted that his sheep became extremely active after eating the red cherries from a plant as they went from one pasture to another. He ate a few of the cherries himself, and was soon as overactive as his herd. The story goes on to say that a monk passed by and scolded him for "partaking of the devil's fruit." However, the monks soon found themselves eating the same fruit to help them stay awake for their prayers. Originally, the coffee plant grew naturally in Ethiopia. But once the people of Arabia became enthralled with coffee and transplanted plants to Arabia, coffee was monopolized by them. Later, countries beyond Arabia whose inhabitants believed coffee to be a delicacy guarded its secret and with caution began to siphon off coffee plants from Arabia. The Arabian government prohibited the transportation of the plant out of the Moslem nations, so the actual spread of coffee was started illegally. In the 17th century, Italian traders introduced coffee to the West and changed the history of coffee forever. Many Christians believed that coffee was the drink of the devil. But in Italy, Pope Clement VIII drank and endorsed coffee against the advice of his advisors who wanted it to be considered part of the infidel threat. Because of his endorsement of coffee, it became acceptable as a Christian beverage and spread throughout the West. Coffee Houses began opening in the mid-17th century in the Western world. The first coffee house opened in Italy in 1645, in England in 1652, in Paris in 1672 and in Berlin in 1721. In 1668, Edward Lloyd's coffee house opened in England and eventually became Lloyd's of London, the best-known insurance company in the world. By this time, coffee had replaced beer as New York's City's favorite breakfast beverage. In the late 17th and early 18th centuries, the Dutch became a prominent force in the coffee industry with a coffee plant smuggled out of the Arab port of Mocha. The Dutch cultivated coffee commercially in Ceylon and in their East Indian colony of Java, which came to be the source of coffees' nickname. However, the French stole a seedling and transported it to Martinique. Fifty years later, an official survey found 19 million coffee trees on Martinique, and eventually it’s estimated that ninety percent of the world's coffee spread from this one seedling. The Dutch and French monopoly was broken up in 1727 when Brazil entered the fray. Lieutenant colonel Francisco de Melo Palheta was sent by the Brazilian government to arbitrate a border dispute between the French and Dutch colonies in Guiana. Not only did he settle the disagreement, but he also began an affair with the wife of the governor of French Guiana. The dear lady bid the lieutenant colonel adieu with a bouquet in which she hid cuttings and fertile seeds of coffee that began the Brazilian portion of the history of coffee. By 1907, Brazil accounted for 97% of the world’s coffee production. As the Industrial Revolution swept through Europe and the United States, coffee was changed forever. Hills Bros. became the first company to vacuum pack coffee, changing the coffee industry from a local one to a regional and even national one. Sanka was introduced to the United States as the first decaffeinated coffee. And Nestle learned how to freeze dry coffee and keep it fresher longer. The most recent changes in the history of coffee come over the last sixty years. In 1946, the espresso machine was invented in Italy, giving rise to the Cappuccino. And in 1971, Starbucks opened its first store in Seattle’s Pike Place public market. And that ladies and gentlemen is a small and brief history of coffee, which I hope you enjoyed. © Copyright Randy Wilson, All Rights Reserved. Source: Free Articles from