The History of Coffee
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How much do you actually know about the history of coffee?
Do you know where coffee comes from?
Did you know that coffee comes from the bean or seed of the fruit on the coffee tree or bush?
It is believed that these plants most likely originated in Kaffa, which is now known as Ethiopia. It is not known exactly when people discovered that they could make a rich and stimulating brew from the bean of the coffee plant. However, it is thought that before it was ever appreciated as a beverage, the native people most likely chewed the ripe cherries and beans as food. There is evidence to suggest that coffee trees were cultivated in monastery gardens 1,000 years ago. Commercial cultivation followed, although the first reports of this, from the Yemen, were not recorded until the fifteenth century.
Coffee Houses during the History of Coffee
The first coffee houses were opened in Mecca. Coffee drinking was initially encouraged and spread quickly through the Arab world. Coffee houses were developed into luxuriously decorated places. Here there was music, dancing, chess and gossip that could be enjoyed. They were also places where business could be conducted. Much like the coffee shops of today.
The History of Coffee Trade
Coffee became a much sought after commodity. It was closely guarded by the Arabs. During the early history of coffee they would not allow foreigners to visit their plantations and they would not allow fertile coffee beans to be taken out of the country. The history of cofee drrinking changed where seed-beans or plant cuttings were eventually taken out of Arabia and cultivated in the Dutch colonies of India and Java. The Dutch became the main suppliers of coffee throughout Europe with Amsterdam being the trading center.
Venetian traders first brought this great and healthy beverage to Europe in 1615. Thirty years later a coffee house or cafe’ was opened in Venice. Popular coffee houses became meeting places for both social and business purposes. The growth and popularity of these coffee houses spread to other European countries including Austria, Germany, Holland, France and England. From Europe coffee was taken to Virginia in the USA. In the last three hundred years coffee has made it’s way around the world.
Coffee is a Valuable Commodity
Coffee is now one of the most valuable primary commodities in the world. It is often only second in value to oil as a source of foreign exchange to developing countries. Millions of people around the world earn their living from coffee.
At times during the history of coffee, it has been said to be a medicinal cure-all and at other times it has been condemned as the devil’s brew when coffee houses were at their height in popularity as meeting places, for political or religious reasons. In the last fifty years, scientific research has established the facts about coffee, caffeine (which is responsible for coffee’s mild stimulant effect) and our health. I am happy to say that in moderation, coffee consumption is no way a health risk. Besides being a pleasurable experience, scientific evidence throughout the history of coffee has shown that coffee can provide us with some health benefits.