Coffee, the brew we all know and love. Our favourite pick me up or socialising lubricant, we enjoy coffee all throughout the globe. Yet how many of us know where it is from?
I'm not talking about the local cafe connoisseur, describing his single shot espresso like finely matured wine at a tasting session. I mean the actual history, where it came from, when and how it became such a popular drink worldwide?
I thought I'd shed some light on the origins, not the full history and movements but the origins of our favourite pastime splash down, so that when you're brewing at home, taking centre stage, with your Aeropress or V60 you have a little more to share than where this great arabica bean was grown.
Delving in, we know that coffee is a brewed drink prepared from roasted coffee beans, right? The 'beans' are the seeds of berries from certain Coffea species. The berries, also known as cherries, are picked while green and unripe, processed, and dried before they're roasted to varying degrees, ground and then brewed with near-boiling water to produce that great beverage known as Coffee.
Research indicates that moderate coffee consumption is mildly beneficial as a stimulant, in healthy adults, but you can read more on this in our previous blog.
Regarding an actual origin, it's tricky to say exactly who and where created the first beverage however, we know coffee cultivation and trade began on the Arabian Peninsula in the 15th century, using beans procured from the Ethiopian Highlands.
There are many myths and legends about the actual origin like the goat herder Kaldi, who's story goes, he discovered coffee when he noticed that after eating the berries from a certain tree, his goats became so energetic that they did not want to sleep at night.
How true this is we do not know, yet this is certainly a credible way to discover it. We do know that by the middle of the 15th century, coffee seeds were first roasted and brewed, in a manner similar to how it is now prepared for drinking today, in Sufi shrines in the Yemeni District.
By the 16th century, this stimulating drink had spread across the Middle East and North Africa, to countries like Persia, Egypt, Syria, and Turkey. With thousands of pilgrims visiting the holy city of Mecca each year from all over the world, knowledge of this “wine of Araby” began to spread.
Coffee had made its way to Europe by the 17th century and was becoming popular across the continent. Although it did see some controversy, coffee houses quickly became the center of social activity in the cities of England, Austria, France, Germany and Holland. Here in England, what were known as “penny universities”, because for the price of a penny one could purchase a cup of coffee and engage in stimulating conversation, started to appear.
By the mid-17th century, there were over 300 coffee houses in London, many of which attracted like-minded patrons including merchants, shippers, brokers and artists. Many of todays businesses grew out of these specialised coffee houses. Lloyd's of London, for example, came into existence at the Edward Lloyd's Coffee House.
Skip ahead to present day and coffee is grown in equatorial regions throughout the globe, with Brazilian beans providing up to a 3rd of the worlds supply.
Hopefully we have helped with your understanding of where this amazing drink comes from and enabled you to educate your social circle, of at least part of it's amazing history, the next time you come to enjoy a brew together.