The History of Coffee

The History of Coffee

Coffee is a famous energy-boosting drink loved all over the world. Though it is not clear when it was discovered, it is believed it was first discovered in Ethiopia before spreading to different lands. Today coffee is grown in different parts of the world, and the second most traded commodity behind petroleum.

The myth, the legend

According to legends, Kaldi, a lonely goat herder in Ethiopia, discovered the beans after noticing how excited his goats were after eating some of the berries from the tree. He reported this to the abbot of the local monastery. Interested, the abbot made a drink from the berry, and upon finding the drink kept him awake for long hours of evening prayers, he shared his discovery with the other monks at the monastery. From there, the word about an energizing drink started to spread far and far, and coffee reached the Arabian Peninsula, and eventually, the rest of the world.

Yet another story of A Yemenite Sufi mystic named Ghothul Akbar Noor Ud Din Abu al-Hasan al-Shadhili talks of how he first discovered coffee. It is said he spotted berry-eating birds flying over his village unusually energetically. And on tasting some jettisoned berries, he also found himself exceptionally alert.

By the 16th century, coffee was a common drink in Persia, Egypt, Syria, and Turkey. Yemeni merchants took coffee home from Ethiopia and began to grow it for themselves. 

More and more coffee houses opened up, which turned out to be meeting points for most people across the globe. By 1675, there were about 3,000 coffee houses in England alone. Some even had bed and breakfast for overnight guests. Many seemed to follow the Turkish coffeehouse business model.

Coffee cup spilling coffee beans

A delicious cup of coffee

The Arabian Peninsula 

Coffee cultivation spread quickly in the Arabian Peninsula. By the 15th century, coffee was comfortably being cultivated in the Yemeni. Yemen’s favorable climate and fertile soil offered the ideal conditions for cultivating rich coffee harvests. Soon coffee houses become the center for the exchange of information. They were commonly referred to as schools of the Wise, where patrons had conversations as they enjoyed coffee.

With thousands of pilgrims flocking the holy city of Mecca each year from different parts of the world, knowledge of this “wine of Araby” began to spread.


Istanbulites first tasted coffee in1555 during the reign of Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent by Özdemir Pasha, the Ottoman Governor of Yemen, who had fallen in love with this drink. In the Ottoman palace, the coffee beans were roasted over a fire. Then, they were finely ground and finally slowly cooked with water on the ashes of a charcoal fire. This brewing method contributed greatly to the spread of news about coffee.

Coffee in Europe

It is not until in 1615 when Europeans first tasted coffee when merchants who had knowledge of coffee in Istanbul ferried it back with them to Venice. Soon a coffeehouse was opened in Italy, and this resulted in many coffee houses mushrooming in different parts of the country and other lands.

In 1644, the very first coffee beans, together with the apparatus used to prepare and serve coffee, were brought to Marseilles by Monsieur de la Roque, the French ambassador.

Coffee in France

Coffee in France was first introduced in 1660 by merchants from Marseilles who had first tasted coffee in Istanbul. About ten years later a coffee house opened in Marseilles. At the start, coffee houses catered to merchants and travelers but soon become popular joints for all people.

In Paris, coffee was introduced in 1669 by Hoşsohbet Nüktedan Süleyman Ağa, who was then sent by Sultan Mehmet IV as ambassador to the court of King Louis XIV of France. The first coffee house in Paris opened in 1686. Soon more and more coffee houses began to pop up in the different parts of the city.

Coffee Comes to Europe

European travelers to the Near East first shared the story of an energizing dark black drink. By the 17th century, coffee had made its way to Europe and was becoming famous across the continent. Though it was not well welcomed by locals, the decision of the then Pope Clement VIII to taste and give a thumbs up led to the opening of more and more coffee houses. And slowly, coffee began to replace the common breakfast drink beverages of the time.

By the mid-17th century, more than 300 coffee houses had been established in London. Most of which attracted like-minded patrons (shippers artists, merchants, and brokers.)

The New World

It was not until in the mid-1600s when coffee was brought to New Amsterdam. Though coffee faced stiff competition from tea until 1773 when the colonists revolted against a heavy tax on tea imposed by King George III. After the revolt, American drinking preference changed to coffee.

Coffee in America

In 1714, the Dutch presented a gift of a young coffee plant to King Louis XIV. The coffee sampling was planted in the Royal Botanical Garden in Paris. In 1723, a French mariner, Gabriel de Clieu obtained a sampling from the King’s garden, transported it safely and planted the seedling in Martinique. 

Luckily, the seedling thrived, and that one seedling is credited with the spread of over 18 million coffee trees on the island of Martinique, as well as the growth of coffee trees throughout the Caribbean, South, and Central America.

In 1727, a Portuguese sailor, de Mello Palheta transported coffee seedlings to Brazil from French Guyana. Brazil is still the world’s largest producer of coffee, accounting for 35% of global coffee production.

Modern Coffee

Instant coffee or modern coffee was invented by New Zealander David Strang in 1889. Freeze-dried coffee was invented in 1938. Meanwhile, decaffeinated coffee was invented by Ludwig Roselius in 1903. Melitta Bentz invented the coffee filter in 1908. Achille Gaggia invented the modern espresso machine in 1946. The first pump-driven espresso machine was made in 1960. Meanwhile, in the early 20th century, the coffee table became a popular item of furniture.

Today coffee is still one of the world’s most popular drinks. Since it is was discovered, many brands have come up. From Hawaiian Kona Coffee to Black Ivory Coffee, there is a brand for everyone.

Leave a Reply