The origin of coffee is a fascinating topic that has been shrouded in mystery and legend for centuries. In this blog post, we will explore some of the stories and facts about how coffee was discovered, cultivated and spread around the world.

One of the most popular legends about the origin of coffee is that of Kaldi, an Ethiopian goat herder who lived around 850 A.D. According to this legend, Kaldi noticed that his goats became very energetic and restless after eating the red berries of a certain bush. Curious about the effects of these berries, Kaldi tried some himself and felt a surge of vitality and alertness. He then shared his discovery with a local monk, who used the berries to make a drink that helped him stay awake during long hours of prayer. The monk then spread the word about this miraculous beverage to other monks and soon coffee became a staple in monasteries across Ethiopia.

However, this legend may not be entirely true, as there is no historical evidence to support it. Some scholars suggest that coffee was already known and used by nomadic tribes in Yemen for thousands of years before Kaldi’s time. These tribes would chew on the raw coffee beans or brew them with water to make a stimulating drink. Coffee was also used by Sufi mystics in Yemen as an aid to concentration and meditation during their religious rituals. By the 15th century, coffee plants were cultivated in Yemen and exported to other parts of the Arabian Peninsula.

Coffee quickly became popular in Arabia, where it was enjoyed not only at home but also in public places called qahveh khaneh or coffee houses. These places were hubs of social and cultural activity, where people gathered to chat, play games, listen to music, read books and discuss politics and news. Coffee houses were also known as «schools of wisdom» because they attracted intellectuals and scholars who exchanged ideas and knowledge over cups of coffee. Coffee houses were sometimes seen as a threat by political authorities, who tried to ban them several times but failed due to their popularity.

From Arabia, coffee spread to other regions through trade and travel. By the 16th century, coffee was known in Persia, Egypt, Syria and Turkey. It reached Europe in the 17th century, where it faced some initial resistance from religious groups who considered it a «devil’s drink». However, coffee soon won over many Europeans with its aroma and flavor, and became a fashionable drink among the aristocracy and the bourgeoisie. Coffee houses also emerged in Europe, following the model of their Arabian counterparts. They became centers of social and intellectual life, where writers, artists, philosophers and scientists met and exchanged ideas.

Coffee also reached Asia and America through different routes. In Asia, coffee was introduced by Dutch traders who brought coffee plants from Yemen to Java in Indonesia in the 17th century. Java became one of the main producers and exporters of coffee in the world, along with other islands in Southeast Asia such as Sumatra and Bali. Coffee also reached India through Muslim pilgrims who visited Mecca and brought back coffee seeds with them. In America, coffee was brought by French colonists who planted coffee trees in Martinique in the 18th century. From there, coffee spread to other Caribbean islands, Central America and South America, where Brazil became the largest producer of coffee in the world.

Today, coffee is one of the most consumed beverages in the world, with millions of people enjoying its taste and effects every day. Coffee is also a major commodity that supports the livelihoods of millions of farmers and workers around the world. Coffee has a rich and diverse history that reflects its cultural and social significance across time and space.