Since the discovery of Coffee in Ethiopia in the 9th century things started to happen and revolutionised the world as we know it today. From the feasting of red coffee berries by goats to the brewing of coffee beans into a hot drink by monks to keep them awake during long hours of prayer.
If Ethiopia was the birthplace of coffee, Yemen was where it grew up. The brew first took hold among clerics there too, but spillover into the secular crowd didn’t take long and skyrocketing demand soon led to the world’s first cultivated coffee fields there in the 1300s.
The entire Arabian peninsula became a hotbed of coffeehouse culture, business boomed with cafés – called kaveh kanes – on every corner.
By the 15th-century, Mecca resembled a medieval incarnation of Seattle, men sipping steaming mugs over games of chess and political conversations. Coffee houses were such an important place to gather and discuss that they were often called Schools of the Wise. Under certain circumstances probably not so wise as it is told thatFrench Revolution and the American Revolution were planned in coffeehouses.
Coffee had much the same effect in Europe when it was introduced there in the 1600s. Cafés were the center of social life, where people with similar interests could gather and talk. and so the
The British insurance company, Lloyd’s of London, began as a café popular with sailors who often discussed insurance matters.
Soon Caffeine became a cash crop and Arabia controlled the lucrative coffee industry for several centuries, exporting only roasted, infertile beans to their new trading partners in Europe and Asia. Caffeine junkies the world over were hooked, but couldn’t grow their own crops or buy beans at reasonable prices.
Later on the beans were smuggled to India and plants also ended up in Amsterdam and began cultivating coffee in their Southeast Asian colonies in the 17th century. Europe now had a new, direct source for its daily coffee fix.
Then there were the pessimists. In 1511, for example, the governor of Mecca banned coffee because his medical advisers warned it was bad for people’s health.
In 1674, women in London were convinced that coffee made their husbands impotent. Later on in 1732 a German a movement believed coffee make women sterile.
And yet, in an age when beer soup was the breakfast of champions, coffee had one undeniable health benefit: “Western civilization sobered up,” Pendergrast says (historian Mark Pendergrast — author of Uncommon Grounds: The History of Coffee and How It Transformed Our World). Coffee, he says, “had a very good impact in many ways on our civilization, even though it was, for a long time, grown by slaves.”
In Brazil — where slavery was legal until 1888 — coffee plantations would use slash-and-burn agriculture, tearing down rain forests and planting coffee trees that depleted the nutrients in soil. Once the soil had been sapped, growers would move on to another place.
In the 1670’s a Bostonian woman received the first license to sell coffee, and by 1690 there were at least two operating coffeehouses in Boston.
By 1688, coffee replaced beer as New York City’s favorite breakfast drink.
Johann Sebastian Bach composes in 1732 his Kaffee-Kantate – partly an ode to coffee and partly a stab at the movement in Germany to prevent women from drinking coffee (it was thought to make them sterile) – the cantata includes the aria, “Ah! How sweet coffee tastes! Lovelier than a thousand kisses, sweeter far than muscatel wine! I must have my coffee.”
In mid December 1773 when a force of colonists, dressed up as Mohawk Indians, boarded the three boats and dumped 342 chests of tea into the Boston Harbor. This protest later became known as the Boston Tea Party, but it also sparked an anti-tea (read anti-British) sentiment in the colonies. From this point forward it was deemed unpatriotic to drink tea and coffee houses started to appear in every city.
Coffee was eagerly embraced by the patriots of the day as it showed a symbolic rejection of the English practice of drinking tea. This sentiment became so pervasive that Coffee was declared the National Drink of the Colonized United States by the Continental Congress.
In the 1822’s the first Espresso machine was created in France. But it was only in 1905 that the first commercial espresso machine was manufactured in Italy.
In 1885 the process of using natural gas and hot air becomes the most popular method of roasting coffee.
The blame for instant coffee (yuk) can be put on George Constant Washington, an English chemist living in Guatemala, notices a powdery condensation forming on the spout of his silver coffee carafe. After experimentation, he creates in 1906 the first mass-produced instant coffee.
In 1907 in less than a century Brazil produced 97 percent of the world’s coffee bean harvest. And is today still the leading producer.
In 1938 Brazil experienced huge coffee surpluses, and requested the Nestle company to assist with a solution. This led to the invention of freeze-dried coffee and Nescafé was developed and introduced in Switzerland.
The British may have invented ‘Tea Time’ but America invented the ‘Coffee Break’. In the 1950’s the sale of coffee declined and thanks to a clever advertising campaign the idea of a coffee break was created. The idea was born by a Mr. Watson after noticing during World War II some factories started giving their employees a couple of minutes off every shift, during which time some of these workers would drink a quick cup of coffee to wake themselves up.
In Italy, Achilles Gaggia perfects his espresso machine in 1946 with a piston that creates a high pressure extraction to produce a thick layer of cream. Cappuccino is named for the resemblance of its colour to the robes of the monks of the Capuchin order.
In the 1970’s it was the birth of specialty coffee houses and in 1971 Starbucks opens its first store in Seattle’s Pike Place public market, creating a frenzy over fresh-roasted whole bean coffee. Today Starbucks holds more cash than many banks, with more than 22,600 stores worldwide and generated $1.81bn revenue in 2015.
Clock Peaks Coffee Roasters also made a bit of history by opening its doors in July 2016 and commercially roasted the first coffee beans in Swellendam.
Today coffee is the world’s most popular beverage. More than 500 billion cups are consumed each year. It is the world’s largest commodity, second only to oil. The economic impact of the coffee industry is massive and continues to grow annually.