Did you know that we don’t actually know when people began drinking coffee?
It is believed that some were drinking it in Africa as early as the thirteenth century, but there is little hard evidence to support that.
So, What’s the Origin of Coffee?
The first hard evidence of people drinking coffee comes from Yemen in the fifteenth century. From Yemen, coffee spread throughout the rest of the Muslim world, and then finally into Italy and the rest of Europe.
The drink was initially a luxury item, with the merchants selling the product charging exorbitant prices.
It remained a niche product until 1600, when pope Clement VIII stated that it was okay to consume the beverage. Soon after, in 1645, the first European coffee house was opened in Venice.
The first coffee house in England appeared in 1650 with the Grande Cafe. The Grande Cafe is actually still open, though it is a wine bar now. Four years later, the Queen’s Lane Coffee House was opened, and it still serves coffee to this day. In 1675, just 25 years after the first coffee house appeared, there were more than 3,000 such establishments.
The Muslim world kept control of the supply of coffee for as long as they could, but every European nation dreamt of getting their hands on an actual coffee tree. The Dutch were finally able to procure some trees in the late seventeenth century after winning a battle.
They brought the trees back to their forts in India, where the plants grew readily. It did not take long for the Netherlands to eclipse the Muslim world as the chief supplier of coffee.
Coffee was spread to the Caribbean in 1720 by naval officer Gabriel de Clieu. The plant sprouted readily, and so was soon plentiful enough to spread to other areas. The plant quickly spread to the mainland of South America. Brazil was the first country to get access to the beans, though its growth there didn’t really explode until the nation became independent in 1822.
So the next time you drink a cup of coffee, look at the origin. Coffee has had a long journey to get to where it is today, and has survived attempts to ban and control it. Each growing location is like a step in time, marking coffee’s spread. So enjoy, but think about the history.