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Brief History of Coffee


Coffee History


c. 850
First known discovery of coffee berries. Legend of goat herder Kaldi of Ethiopia who notices his goats are friskier after eating red berries of a local shrub. Experiments with the berries himself and begins to feel happier.

First uses legend
The first drinking of coffee is attributed to Sheik Abou'l Hasan Schadheli's disciple, Omar. According to the ancient chronicle (preserved in the Abd-Al-Kadir manuscript), Omar, who was known for his ability to cure the sick through prayer, was once exiled from Mocha to a desert cave near Ousab. Starving, Omar chewed berries from nearby shrubbery, but found them to be bitter. He tried roasting the beans to improve the flavor, but they became hard. He then tried boiling them to soften the bean, which resulted in a fragrant brown liquid. Upon drinking the liquid Omar was revitalized and sustained for days. As stories of this "miracle drug" reached Mocha, Omar was asked to return and was made a saint

c. 1100
The first coffee trees are cultivated on the Arabian peninsula. Coffee is first roasted and boiled by Arabs making qahwa - a beverage made from plants.

The world's first coffee shop opens in Constantinople. It is followed by the establishment of two coffee houses in 1554.

The most important of the early writers on coffee was Abd al-Qadir al-Jaziri, compiled a work tracing the history and legal controversies of coffee entitled Umdat al safwa fi hill al-qahwa He reported that one Sheikh, Jamal-al-Din al-Dhabhani (d. 1470), mufti of Aden, was the first to adopt the use of coffee (circa 1454). " He found that among its properties was that it drove away fatigue and lethargy, and brought to the body a certain sprightliness and vigour."

c. 1600
Coffee enters Europe through the port of Venice. Coffee became more widely accepted after the controversy over whether it was acceptable for Catholics to consume it, was settled in its favor by Pope Clement VIII in 1600, despite appeals to ban the drink. The first coffeehouse opens in Venice, Italy in 1645.

Coffee is introduced to the New World by Captain John Smith, founder of Virginia at Jamestown. Some Canadian historians claim it arrived in previously settled Canada.

The first coffeehouse opens in England. Coffeehouses are called penny universities (a penny is charged for admission and a cup of coffee). Edward Lloyd's coffeehouse opens in 1688. It eventually becomes Lloyd's of London, the world's best-known insurance company.

The opening of the first Parisian cafe dedicated to serving coffee. In 1713, King Louis XIV is presented with a coffee tree. It is believed that sugar was first used as an additive in his court.

The first coffeehouse opens in Vienna. The Turks, defeated in battle, leave sacks of coffee behind.

The Dutch become the first to transport and cultivate coffee commercially. Coffee is smuggled out of the Arab port of Mocha and transported to Ceylon and the East Indies for cultivation. Their first attempts to plant them in India failed but they were successful with their efforts in Batavia, on the island of Java in what is now Indonesia. The plants thrived and soon the Dutch had a productive and growing trade in coffee. They soon expanded the cultivation of coffee trees to the islands of Sumatra and Celebes.

The first coffeehouse opens in Berlin.

Coffee plants are introduced in the Americas for cultivation. Gabriel de Clieu, a French naval officer, transports a seedling to Martinique. By 1777, 19 million coffee plants are cultivated on the island.

Coffee is said to have come to Brazil in the hands of Francisco de Mello Palheta who was sent by the emperor to French Guiana for the purpose of obtaining coffee seedlings. But the French were not willing to share and Palheta was unsuccessful. However, he was said to have been so handsomely engaging that the French Governor's wife was captivated. As a going-away gift, she presented him with a large bouquet of flowers. Buried inside he found enough coffee seeds to begin what is today a billion-dollar industry.

One of Europe's first coffeehouses, Cafe Greco, opens in Rome. By 1763, Venice has over 2,000 coffee shops.

Though coffee houses rapidly began to appear, tea continued to be the favored drink in the New World until 1773 When the colonists revolted against a heavy tax on tea imposed by King George. The revolt, known as the Boston Tea Party, would forever change the American drinking preference to coffee.

The prototype of the first espresso machine is created in France.

In Brazil, cultivation didn't gather momentum until independence in 1822. After this time, massive tracts of rainforest were cleared first from the vicinity of Rio and later São Paulo for coffee plantations. Cultivation was taken up by many countries in the latter half of the 19th century, and almost all involved the large-scale displacement and exploitation of the indigenous Indian people. Harsh conditions led to many uprisings, coups and bloody suppression of peasants. The notable exception was Costa Rica, where lack of ready labor prevented the formation of large farms. Smaller farms and more egalitarian conditions ameliorated unrest over the 19th and 20th centuries.

A process of using natural gas and hot air becomes the most popular method of roasting coffee.

c. 1900
Kaffeeklatsch, afternoon coffee, becomes popular in Germany.

The first commercial espresso machine is manufactured in Italy.

The invention of the worlds first drip coffeemaker. Melitta Bentz makes a filter using blotting paper.

Dr. Ernest Illy develops the first automatic espresso machine.

Nescafe instant coffee is invented by Nestle to assist the Brazilian government in solving its coffee surplus problem.

United States now imports 70 percent of the world's coffee. Maxwell House instant coffee is chosen to fill the ration kits of American soldiers departing for World War II. Among U.S. civilians, coffee is rationed to prevent hoarding. Even with limited caffeine these determined Americans drink their coffee, which fuels the fight to lead the world out of tyranny and into freedom.

Achilles Gaggia perfects the espresso machine with a piston that creates a high-pressure extraction to produce a thick layer of crema.

The Colombian Coffee Federation that represents 560,000 coffee growers debuts the fictional Juan Valdez, the humble Columbian coffee grower, who along with his loaded pack mule picks his beans one at a time.

Alfred Peet, a Dutch-American, whose father ran a small roastery in Holland brings a little of the old country to his new country. In 1966, Alfred opens Peet's Coffee in Berkeley, California. He later is credited as the "grandfather" of the specialty coffee industry.

Alfred Peet shared and taught his style of roasting beans to three buddies, Jerry Baldwin, an english teacher, Zev Siegl a history teacher and Gordon Bowker, a writer. They worked over Christmas at the first Peet's store in Berkeley to learn the ropes. With Alfred's blessing, and his roasted beans, not only did they copy his store design, they took his technique of roasting and opened the first Starbucks in Seattle. Within a year they acquired their own roaster and started roasting their own.

A ground breaking moment in coffee history; the first automatic drip home coffee maker- with the formal name of Mr. Coffee was introduced by Cleveland, Ohio entrepreneur Vincent Marotta. Please to meet you, Mr. Coffee. The innovation: water is percolated through the coffee grounds at 200° Fahrenheit, as opposed to the boiling water that roiled through grounds in the traditional percolator. Mr. Coffee was soon to become a household name because it was pitched on TV by the legendary baseball great and Hall of Fame recipient Joe DiMaggio. In the late 1970's 40,000 units a day were sold. It still is the world's best-selling coffee maker for home use.

Brazil grows a third of the world’s supply—some five million a year. A killing frost damaged nearly half of the country’s three billion coffee trees and sent retail prices into orbit.

Howard Schultz certain that there was money to be made selling coffee drinks, made an offer that the Starbucks owners' could not refuse... Eventually they gave in - Schultz bought Starbucks for a paltry $3.8 million. He finally secures their roasting techniques, rapidly renames his own coffee chain "Starbucks" and changes forever how the world would buy their coffee beverages.

He sets out on his conquest of the world with a Starbucks in every country, on every corner, putting the Mom & Pop cafés out of business, and along the way gobbling up local café chains and renaming them as his own.

Coffee is the world's most popular beverage. More than 400 billion cups are consumed each year. It is a world commodity that is second only to oil.

World coffee prices crash. Speculation is rampant; weather, disease, and the ever growing rumor of "certain corporate chains" of forced growing schemes in countries like Vietnam, with near slave-like worker conditions that yield almost free coffee production; has devatated the world's coffee markets. Smaller producers are quoted, “That’s the death of coffee production,” Gomez said. “Losses lead to crops being neglected and then abandoned.” Some farmers are turning to illegal drug crops just to feed thier familes.

Coffee or Green Coffee is legally the 2nd most highly traded commodity across the world and cultivated in more than 70 countries, especially in Southeast Asia and Latin America. It’s also regarded as world’s 7th biggest agricultural export. The largest producers are Vietnam, Brazil, Colombia, India and Indonesia. Crude oil remains #1, coffee #2, and sugar comes in at #6.

Let it be noted here that none of the New World's coffee or sugar plantation production would have been possible without the terrible use of the slaves brought from Africa. The Black slave in the Americas, from Barbados to Brazil, shaped the New World in ways that is rarely acknowledged. The suffering wrought upon those millions can never be undone. Let us all send blessings to our brothers and sisters for the contributions to this silent and terrible history you have within your blood.

One of many - John Williams of Jamaica, 1764, 8 x great-grandfather.

The History Channel has a great program on the history of coffee.
You may want to purchase the DVD Modern Marvels: Coffee.
I get no commission from this, it's just a great show.


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