first discovered in Eastern Africa in an area we know
today as Ethiopia. A popular legend refers to a goat
herder by the name of Kaldi, who observed his goats acting
unusually frisky after eating berries from a bush. Curious
about this phenomena, Kaldi tried eating the berries
himself. He found that these berries gave him a renewed
energy. The news of this energy laden fruit quickly spread
throughout the region.
Monks hearing about this amazing fruit, dried the berries
so that they could be transported to distant monasteries.
They reconstituted these berries in water, ate the fruit,
and drank the liquid to provide stimulation for a more
awakened time for prayer.
Coffee berries were transported from Ethiopia to the
Arabian peninsula, and were first cultivated in what today
is the country of Yemen.
From there, coffee traveled to Turkey where coffee beans
were roasted for the first time over open fires. The
roasted beans were crushed, and then boiled in water,
creating a crude version of the beverage we enjoy today.
Coffee first arrived on the European continent by means of
Venetian trade merchants. Once in Europe this new beverage
fell under harsh criticism from the Catholic church. Many
felt the pope should ban coffee, calling it the drink of
the devil. To their surprise, the pope, already a coffee
drinker, blessed coffee declaring it a truly Christian
Coffee houses spread quickly across Europe becoming
centers for intellectual exchange. Many great minds of
Europe used this beverage, and forum, as a springboard to
heightened thought and creativity.
In the 1700's, coffee found its way to the Americas by
means of a French infantry captain who nurtured one small
plant on its long journey across the Atlantic. This one
plant, transplanted to the Caribbean Island of Martinique,
became the predecessor of over 19 million trees on the
island within 50 years. It was from this humble beginning
that the coffee plant found its way to the rest of the
tropical regions of South and Central America.
Coffee was declared the national drink of the then
colonized United States by the Continental Congress, in
protest of the excessive tax on tea levied by the British
Espresso, a recent innovation in the way to prepare
coffee, obtained its origin in 1822, with the innovation
of the first crude espresso machine in France. The
Italians perfected this wonderful machine and were the
first to manufacture it. Espresso has become such an
integral part of Italian life and culture, that there are
presently over 200,000 espresso bars in Italy.
Today, coffee is a giant global industry employing more
than 20 million people. This commodity ranks second only
to petroleum in terms of dollars traded worldwide. With
over 400 billion cups consumed every year, coffee is the
world's most popular beverage. If you can imagine, in
Brazil alone, over 5 million people are employed in the
cultivation and harvesting of over 3 billion coffee
Sales of premium specialty coffees in the United States
have reached the multi billion dollar level, and are
increasing significantly on an annual basis.
- Did you
know coffee is the second most valuable commodity sold
on the international trading market (the highest being
- There are
an estimated 20 million rural people working on coffee
plantations throughout the world.
United States of American is the largest
coffee-consuming nation, drink approximately one fifth
of the 7 billion kilogram’s of coffee grown worldwide.
- Brazil is
the largest coffee-producing nation, followed by
history of coffee can be traced to at least as early
9th century, when it appeared in the
highlands of Ethiopia.
According to legend,
shepherds were the first to observe the
caffeine from the coffee beans when, after their
goats consumed some naturally occurring coffee beans
in the pasture, the goats appeared to "dance" and
have an increased level of energy.
From Ethiopia, it spread to
and by the fifteenth century had reached
Turkey, and northern Africa.
Leonhard Rauwolf, a German physician, after returning
from a ten-year trip to the
Near East, gave this description of coffee:
A beverage as black as ink, useful against numerous
illnesses, particularly those of the stomach. Its
consumers take it in the morning, quite frankly, in a
porcelain cup that is passed around and from which
each one drinks a cupful. It is composed of water and
the fruit from a bush called bunnu.
Muslim world, coffee spread to Italy. The thriving
Venice and the Muslims of North
Egypt, and the
Middle East brought many African goods, including
coffee, to this port. Merchants introduced coffee to the
wealthy in Venice, charging them heavily for it, and
introducing it to Europe. Coffee became more widely
accepted after it was deemed an acceptable Christian
Pope Clement VIII in 1600, despite appeals to ban the
"Muslim drink". The first European coffee house opened in
Italy in 1645.
Dutch were the first to import it on large scale, and
eventually smuggled seedlings into Europe in 1690; defying
the Arab prohibition on the exportation of plants or
unroasted seeds. The Dutch later grew the crop in
Through the efforts of the
British East India Company, it became popular in
England as well. It was introduced in
France in 1657, and in
Poland following the
Battle of Vienna, when coffee was captured from
supplies of the defeated
When coffee reached the
Thirteen Colonies, it was initially not as successful
as it had been in Europe. However, during the
Revolutionary War, the demand for coffee increased so
much that dealers had to hoard their scarce supplies and
raise prices dramatically; this was partly due to the
reduced availability of tea from British merchants.
War of 1812, in which Britain had temporarily cut off
access to tea
imports, the Americans' taste for coffee grew during the
early nineteenth century, and high demand during the
American Civil War together with the advancements of
brewing technology secured the position of coffee as an
everyday commodity in the United States.
of Instant Coffee...
surge in demand for Ivory Coast and other robustas stems
from soaring sales of instant coffee. Introduced to an
indifferent public in 1901 by a determined Japanese
chemist, solubles refreshed some U.S. fighting forces
during World War I but didn’t win a lasting place in
civilian larders for another two decades. Today 20 percent
of all coffee is processed into spray or freeze-dried
means dehydrating liquid coffee much as it comes from an
ordinary pot into an extract of easily dissolved granules,
pulverized to a powder or agglomerated into larger nuggets
to resemble regular grinds.
in the roaster’s repertoire: eliminating most of coffee’s
kick. Unroasted beans are soaked in water to swell their
cells, then submerged in a solvent that flushes out about
97 percent of their caffeine. Rinsed thoroughly, they
reenter the pipeline to be roasted, ground, and packaged.
largest roaster, the massive Maxwell House plant in
Hoboken, New Jersey, begins its production line across the
Hudson River on Manhattan’s Wall Street. Here experts like
Tom Conroy, a 47-year veteran, decide what types and
tonnage of beans to buy in order to maintain quality
standards for more than a dozen company blends.
roasting machine filled the tasting room with a
tantalizing aroma; polished cuspidors yawned around a
revolving, cup-laden table.
taster’s trade, we smell, sip, and sense, but we don’t
Tom began by
“breaking”—stirring the coffee’s surface froth to release
all its fragrance. He then inhaled a spoonful with a
squeal not unlike air escaping a punctured tire. After
rolling it around on his tongue, he neatly bull’s-eyed a
cuspidor, gave the tabletop a slight turn, and took on the
coffee with such words as smooth, acidy, Rioy, winy,
sharp, pungent, or neutral. Some, like acidy, may sound
negative but are actually favorable traits.
a batch and where it’s from isn’t too difficult: This is a
Brazil from northern São Paulo state.”
States might never have acquired the coffee habit if
rebellious colonists hadn’t resisted Britain’s tax on tea,
dumping a load into Boston’s harbor and refusing to buy
any more from Tory sources. By the time the Revolution
ended, coffee had preempted tea as an American table
forebears took their coffee seriously, steadily, but not
with any frills. They simply poured loose coffee, crudely
milled, into water, sometimes added eggshells to settle
the grounds, and boiled the whole mess to the blackness of
a bat cave. Not gourmet, perhaps, but it warmed and
fortified many a frontiersman, and such coffee still
satisfies some cookout chefs.
I have long sought the ideal recipe: filter, drip, or
perk; beans and blends from this place or that; roasts
that range from light brown to something short of soot.
I managed to
figure out that the world’s annual bean production could
make 3,644,000,000 cubic feet [1,112,000,000 cubic meters]
of liquid coffee, a volume equal to the Mississippi’s
outflow for an hour and a half. But I have yet to figure
out how to brew that perfect cup.