The History of Coffee
Coffee - where did that wonderful brew come from?
Exactly where and when coffee was first cultivated is not known, but some authorities believe that it was grown initially in Arabia near the Red Sea around the year 675. Other authorities say that coffee was discovered in Ethiopia around the year 900. Still others say that around the year 575, Arab traders took it to the southern tip of the Arabian peninsula, now known as Yemen, where the cultivation of coffee began.
According to the Kaldi Coffee Legend, coffee is said to have been first discovered when a goat-herder in Abyssinia, while basking in the sun, observed his goats dancing on their hind legs after eating some red berries. He tasted the berries and his sleepy eyes opened. He took some to the village and everybody liked it, as it kept them awake during their prayers.
Initially, coffee was brewed from green, un-roasted beans to yield a tea-like beverage. By the late 13th century, Arabians roasted and ground coffee before brewing it. Ironically, coffee was usually brewed by Arabian men, and then drunk by Arabian women to alleviate menstrual discomforts.
Coffee cultivation was rare until the 15th and 16th centuries, when extensive planting of the trees occurred in the Yemen region of Arabia. From Yemen the use of coffee beans spread throughout the Arabian peninsula and later via the Ottoman Empire to Turkey. At that time, coffee was used for it's medicinal properties and as a ritual drink. The world's first coffee shop, Kiva Han, opened in Constantinople in 1475.
The modern coffee drink was invented at the end of 15th century, when roasting and crushing the coffee beans before extracting them with hot water grew in acceptance.
Turkish people claimed coffee to be an aphrodisiac and husbands kept their wives well supplied. If the husband refused, it was a legitimate cause for a wife to divorce!
Legend also has it that the Arabs, protective of Coffea Arabica, refused to allow fertile seeds to leave their country. Transportation of the plant out of the Muslim nations was forbidden by the government. Around 1650 a Muslim pilgrim from India named Baba Budan snuck seeds out of Arabia. He planted his seeds in the hills in Mysore, India where they flourished.
Introduced into Europe in the early 1600's, coffeehouses quickly appeared. The Arabs used so much coffee that the Christian church denounced coffee as "the hellish black brew." But Pope Clement VIII found it so great tasting that he baptized it and made it a Christian beverage saying "coffee is so delicious it would be a pity to let the infidels have exclusive use of it."
In 1607, Captain John Smith founded the colony of Virginia at Jamestown. It's believed that he introduced coffee to North America.
In 1652, the first coffeehouse opened in England. A cup of coffee sold for a penny.
In 1672, Paris coffeehouses opened.
In 1675, Franz Georg Kolschitzky, a Viennese who had lived in Turkey, opened central Europe's first coffee house. He also established the habit of refining the brew by filtering out the grounds, sweetening it, and adding a dash of milk.
In 1683, coffee made its way to Austria. Franz Kulczycki opened its first Viennese coffeehouse.
Along with the increase in popularity of coffee in Europe and especially England, the Dutch began to cultivate it in their colonies during the 17th century.
In 1715, the Jesuits started coffee cultivation in Haiti.
In 1721, the first coffee house opened in Berlin.
In 1723, French naval officer, Gabriel Mathieu do Clieu, stole a seedling and transplanted it to Martinique. That cutting was the start of coffee plantations in Latin America. Within 50 years an official survey recorded 19 million coffee trees on Martinique.
In 1773, Americans revolted against King George's Tea Tax and the Continental Congress declared coffee the official national beverage.
In 1825, coffee was taken to Hawaii.
By 1887, coffee had made its way to Tonkin, Indo-China.
In 1896, coffee was taken to Queensland, Australia.
Before World War II, due to the economic importance of coffee exports, a number of Latin American countries made arrangements to allocate export quotas so that each country would be assured a certain share of the United States coffee market.
In 1940, the first coffee quota agreement was arranged and was administered by an Inter-American Coffee Board.
In the 1950's, New Guinea began cultivating coffee.
In 1962, the idea of establishing coffee export quotas on a worldwide basis was adopted, when an International Coffee Agreement was negotiated by the United Nations. During the 5 year period, while the agreement was in effect, 41 exporting countries and 25 importing countries acceded to its terms. The agreement was renegotiated in 1968, 1976, and in 1983.
In 1989, world coffee prices plunged when participating nations failed to sign a new pact.
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