History of Coffee
Ethiopian Coffee ForestsI wonder if all of the coffee cultivated in the world can be traced back to the Ethiopian Coffee Forests? These beans present dramatic flavors of ripe blueberries, flora and stone fruit nuances. Each farm represents a uniquely aromatic, lush fruit basket of its own right and yet an undeniable similarity. According to legend, a goat herder named Kaldi first discovered coffee and saw caffeine in action. While traveling the mountains he came to rest near a lush and fruitful grove of trees growing plentifully on the mountainside. The goats did as goats do and munched the green leaves, the red berries and everything in between! Kaldi watched the goats as they became more energetic. He and they danced the night away according to the ancient legends. He and the goats had stayed awake all night after eating the berries on the mountain. This was a delightful change of pace and Kaldi gathered some of the beautiful red berries to take to the local monastery. Abbots and Monasteries were more like librarians in University. He mentioned the goats’ unusual response to coffee to an abbot at the local monastery. The abbot made a drink from the berries and found that it kept him awake throughout his long evening prayer sessions. He told the other monks about it and shared the drink with them. It quickly became popular with the locals and ultimately reached the Arabs.
Arabian CoffeeThe coffee trend started in the Arabian Peninsula during the 15th century. People began cultivating the bean and consuming the drink regularly. Coffee trade flourished as people didn’t just drink it in their homes, but also started coffee houses called qahveh khaneh.
Coffee quickly became the social drink of the time. Just like we do today, people used to meet at these qahveh khanehs and spend time with each other over some of this fantastic brew. As a number of religious tourists visited the region, word of this wonder drink quickly spread to other parts of the world too.
Off-toman With His Head!In the 1600’s, the Ottoman Empire was blessed wit an angry Sultan. He feared Coffee’s popularity would outrank his own. Soon the highly addictive beverage came with the threat of decapitation!
Coffee in EuropeAt first, Europeans greeted this dark concoction with suspicion. Many monks and priests were calling it Satan’s drink. The Pope Clement VIII intervened and declared it acceptable after a single taste. He is rumored to have declared “This Satan’s Drink is so Delicious that it would be a pity to let the infidels have exclusive use of it.”
Despite a lukewarm reception by the clergy, coffee quickly gained popularity. It was a social drink and was often consumed as a breakfast time beverage as well. Business owners quickly set up coffee shops and ‘coffee universities’ where people could congregate to drink coffee and debate.
Fuel for thought we always say.
Eventually the drink reached England and by the 17th century, there were 300 coffee shops in London alone. It didn’t take long for coffee to reach the New World and flourish in other places too. Countries like India, Japan, Indonesia, Philippines started cultivating coffee with a great deal of success. Missionaries, traders, and travelers contributed to the spread of coffee throughout the world.
How much is too much? Don’t ask Voltaire, the French writer and philosopher. He is rumored to have enjoyed 50 cups of a chocolatey java concoction a day. The antioxidants must have worked because he lived past eighty. While we don’t recommend over caffeinating, historically, it does get the job done.
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