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Coffee Origins

The Origins of Coffee

The history of coffee goes as far back as the 10th century. The native (undomesticated) origin is thought to have been Ethiopia. Ethiopians are the first ethnic group to have recognized the energizing effect of the coffee plant. The beans were first exported from Ethiopia to Yemen.

It was primarily in the Islamic world and was directly related to religious practices. The earliest evidence of coffee drinking is from the 15th century in the Sufi monasteries of Yemen. The Sufis used the beverage as an aid to concentration and as a kind of spiritual intoxication when they chanted. People used it to keep them alert during their nighttime devotions. There were periods of time in the 15th century where it became forbidden by orthodox imams due to its stimulating effect. These bans were later overturned.

16th Century

By the 16th century, it had reached the rest of the middle east, Persia, Turkey, the Horn of Africa and northern Africa. Then it spread to the Balkans, Italy, the rest of Europe, Indonesia and then to America. The first European coffee house opened in Venice in 1645.

19th Century

Cultivation was going on in many countries in the latter half of the 19th century. Harsh conditions led to many uprisings, coups, and suppression of peasants, notably, Cuba. For many decades in the 19th and 20th centuries, Brazil basically had a monopoly on the coffee trade. However, a policy of maintaining high prices opened up opportunities to other nations such as Colombia, Ivory Coast, Ethiopia, and Vietnam, second only to Brazil as the major producer in the world.

USA History

Coffee reached North America in 1668. After the Boston Tea Party of 1773, Americans switched from drinking tea during the American Revolution because drinking tea was unpatriotic. Coffee was still a medicinal and too expensive to drink daily. Mostly the wealthy class consumed it. It came from damp, musty, wooden ships, yet the industry in lower Manhattan grew. Until the coffee crash of 1881 wiped out the majority of businesses and set the ball rolling for trade price regulation. Eventually, through the invention of steam-powered ships, paper packaging and advancements in roasting technology, it became a beverage accessible to those outside the wealthy class.

Courtesy: Elite Roasters

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