All You Need To Know About History Of Coffee

* This post may contain affiliate links. When you buy through links on my site, I may earn an affiliate commission. *

The history of coffee remains a mystery to this day. Although there are many tales about its origin, no one knows how or when it was found.

If you are really into this beverage, you must be dying to discover when and how this amazing beverage first appeared. Then let’s read this article to take a trip back in time and across countries to discover the creations of this beverage.

History Of Coffee

There are several traditions and myths about when and where coffee was invented. People have passed down these tales from generation to generation. Below are the most popular ones.

Ethiopian Legend Myth

The beginnings of this famous beverage may be traced back centuries to the ancient forests of Ethiopia’s highlands. According to the legend, the goat herder called Kaldi was the first person to realize the power of these valuable beans in those places. 

This is the most widely circulated version of the genesis tale for this drink. The legend goes that one day, Kaldi realized that some goats appeared to have boundless energy after grazing the red cherries from a tree. 

They seemed to perform some odd behaviors such as frolicking and dancing all that day. They were even so energetic that they got insomniac all that night. 

Kaldi tried these beans for himself the next day. He noticed that they were energizing. He then informed the local monastery’s abbot of the situation. 

To see if this story was true, the abbot made a berry drink. And they discovered that it actually kept him alert during long evening prayers. The abbot then told the other priests at the abbey about this discovery.

These monks shared this interesting godsend with other monks and monasteries. And thus, the coffee journey began! This story has several different versions as it is an unwritten folk tale. Yet, in general, they all have a similar beginning and end.

Arabian Peninsula

The Arabian Peninsula was the birthplace of the cultivation and trade of this drink. In the 15th century, it was grown in the Yemeni district,  Arabia. This place was well-known as Egypt, Syria, Persia, and Turkey in the 16th century.

Initially, it was used on a small scale, like in a family. Later, more people got hooked on this drink, so it appeared in many public places like coffee houses. 

These shops were called “qahveh khaneh” or “Schools of the Wise”. These places were popular venues for many activities, including relaxing and politics. At that time, this beverage had a unique name, “wine of Araby.”

After that, the café developed with a wide range of recreations besides the main function – an information center. It came with common activities. People could watch shows, listen to music, play chess, and keep up with the news. 

Nobody knows when people began roasting and brewing beans the way we do now. In any case, it became popular throughout the Muslim and Arabian Peninsula world. 

People thought Yemen was the first destination for this drink after it left Ethiopia. Later, it had spread throughout Persia, the Middle East, and Turkey by the end of the 16th century. 

The Arabs wanted to keep the monopoly on this drink. So they often roasted or boiled the beans before they left a certain region. The goal was to prevent the beans from germinating and regenerating.

How did it break free from the Arab monopoly? How did it become available in more than 70 countries worldwide? It was thanks to the smuggling of a person named Sufi Baba Budan. He took unprocessed fresh green beans and smuggled them out of Arabia.

This act of his smuggling is revered by both the Hindu and Muslim cultures. After smuggling, Sufi took these beans and planted them in his country – Mysore, India. People assumed this beverage had spread to Europe from here before being taken to colonizers’ territory and expanded to other fields.

European Coffee

In the 17th century, it first appeared in Europe. And then it gained popularity across this continent. At first, this caffeine-packed drink wasn’t very welcoming. The Europeans even doubt, fear, and call it an unpleasant name – “bitter invention of Satan”.

In 1615, it arrived in Venice; the local clergy criticized it. The debate became so intense that Pope Clement VIII must intervene. Before making the final decision, he decided to try this drink for himself. He realized it wasn’t as disgusting as rumored but delicious, so he gave it papal consent.

Though the controversy was hot, coffee houses grew in popularity. They acted as social gathering places and communication centers in many places like England, France, or Austria. 

Beer and wine, which were popular breakfast beverages at the time, began to be replaced by this delicious drink. Those who started the day with this beverage instead of alcohol were alert and energetic. And their work quality was better.

During the mid 17th century, more than 3000 café shops arose in London. This drew the attention of aficionados from different patrons like merchants, artists, shippers, and brokers.

History Of Coffee Around The World

Austria

After having defeated the Turks in the Battle of Vienna in 1683, the first coffee shop in Austria started opening in this capital. The owners used supplies gained from the spoils of war. 

Jerzy Franciszek Kulczycki, a Polish military administrator obtained the beans. He opened the café and popularized the practice of adding milk and sugar to the drink.

In the 19th century, a unique Viennese coffee house culture arose in the city. It quickly developed throughout Central Europe.

UK

Coffee was first introduced to England in the 16th century. This was thanks to the attempts of the Levant Company. It was the first coffee shop in England founded by Pasqua Rosée in St. Michael’s Alley, Cornhill, London.

There were over 3,000 coffee shops in England by 1675. Still, the progressive movement of coffeehouses was disrupted several times between the 1660s and the 1670s.

During this period, some cafes in England forbade women from frequenting. Besides, it was also used as a medicine for neurological disorders.

Germany

Coffee houses first appeared in Germany’s North Sea ports, like Wuppertal-Ronsdorf and Hamburg. 

Initially, the Germans used the English term “coffee” to call this beverage. In the 1700s, they named this java with the French word and then changed it into “Kaffee”, as you see today. 

The popularity of this beverage grew throughout Germany in the 18th century. And the ruling classes quickly took it up. In 1721, the first public café was established in Berlin.

France

Mr. Thevenot was considered to be the one who brought the drink to Paris after his traveling to the East. When Thevenot returned to Paris, France, in 1657, he gave his friends some beans from that region. De la Croix, King Louis XIV of France’s interpreter, was one of the receivers. 

In 1669, Sultan Mehmed IV ambassador, Soleiman Agha, visited Paris with his retinue. And he brought a large number of beans. They served this beverage to their European and French guests and bestowed the royal court some beans. 

Netherlands

In 1616, a Dutch trader, Pieter van den Broecke, got some of the most strictly defended these plants from Mocha, Yemen. He returned to Amsterdam with them and planted them in the Botanical Gardens. 

This insignificant event drew little attention. But it would have a significant impact on its history. These bushes grow profusely and healthy. The Dutch started growing this plant for the first time in 1658 in Ceylon and then in southern India.

Within a certain time, the Dutch territories in the Americas and Asia had become primary Europe’s suppliers.

Italy

Like coffee in other European regions, it first came in Italy in the 16th century via the Mediterranean Sea’s commercial routes. In 1580, Prospero Alpini, a Venetian physician and botanist, brought this drink from Egypt into the Republic of Venice. 

It became the favorite drink of intellectuals, social gatherings, and even lovers. That’s because this beverage and chocolate were regarded as romantic gifts.

That said, it got stuck in a barrier. That’s because some Catholic Church representatives supposed it was “the drink of Devil”. Right after that, Pope Clement VIII decided to try this drink for himself. He realized that it was incredibly delicious. He gave it a blessing, and it became much more popular.

In 1933, the first coffee maker called the Moka pot was invented by Alfonso Bialetti in Turin based on the lisciveuse, which was a steam pot in the laundry. In 1946, his son Renato expanded the business of these pots and made the makers iconic for his country.

Still, it is assumed to have appeared in Naples much earlier. People believed it was grown in Schola Medica Salernitana and Salerno. People utilized it for medical purposes during the 14th and 15th centuries.

Poland

In the 17th century, merchants trading with the Ottomans brought this beverage to the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth. After a century, the first coffee shops debuted.

Despite being a premium item during the Polish People’s Republic’s communist era,  the consumption of this beverage has increased since then. 

Its consumption has significantly developed since Poland’s transition into a democratic, capitalist country in 1989. Although it is quite lower per capita compared to other Western European nations.

Asia

India

As shared earlier, Sufi Baba Budan, who was the smuggler, brought coffee to India. The introduction of beans from Yemen in 1670 to the Chikmagalur hills, Karnataka, was the first release of the breeding of the famous drink in India. 

Since then, it has sprouted throughout this region, even as far south as Kodagu. Arabica and Robusta are the two most well-known types of beans. Drinkers served this beverage in a unique drip-style called “filter coffee” throughout Southern India.

The economy of Chikmagalur, India, is based on this plant. Chikmagalur, India’s coffee capital, is where the seed was first planted 350 years ago. The Coffee Board, which is in Chikmagalur town, is in charge of overseeing the production and sales of the drink grown in the area.

This plant is grown on 85,465 hectares in the Chikmagalur district.  Arabica is the most common type planted in the upper hills, and Robusta is more popular in the lower hills.

South Korea

Gojong and Sunjong, the 19th-century monarchs who loved to drink joe after western-style feasts. They were among the first renowned Korean coffee drinkers.

Canned and instant java had become widespread by the 1980s. This event came with a smaller heritage of privately operated coffee houses in bigger cities.

There was a greater need for European-style beverages. That’s due to the emergence of franchises like Starbucks and Caffe Bene at the end of the 19th century. 

Indonesia

The Dutch were the first to bring these plants to the New World during colonialism in the late 1700s. It developed throughout the Indonesian Archipelago after a few years.

Java, as a vernacular word for coffee, refers to a period of Java. It was the primary source of coffee in Europe and North America. Indonesia is now one of the world’s major exporters of the beverage. 

Drinkers enjoyed java in a variety of ways around the archipelago. One of the most common methods was the traditional “Kopi Tubruk.”

Philippines

This drink has a long history in the Philippines. In 1740, a Spanish Franciscan monk grew the very first java plant in Lipa of Batangas.

After that, the cultivation extended all over Batangas. People grew it in Ibaan, San Jose, Lemery, Tanauan, and Taal. The plantations in these areas provided most of Batangas’ riches. And Lipa ultimately became the country’s coffee center.

Batangas began transporting it to America via San Francisco by the 1860s. With the opening of the Suez Canal, a new market arose in Europe. 

In 1876, following in the footsteps of the Batangas, Cavite planted the first plants in Amadeo. Still, Lipa remained the Philippines’ hub for its production. Because Batangas Barako fetched five times the price compared to other Asian beans.

The Philippines was the fourth greatest coffee bean exporter in 1880. During coffee rust in Africa, Brazil, and Java, the country became the exclusive beans supplier in the world.

Still, this rust came and destroyed the heyday. This significantly reduced the Philippines production, remaining ⅙th the initial amount.

Its history in this archipelago didn’t end here. With the support of the Americans, the Philippine government introduced a stronger type in the 1950s. Many farmers returned to cultivating these plants in the 1960s. That’s because the market conditions were better

Sadly, a global glut of beans occurred because of the fast growth of farms. To safeguard local growers, the importation of these plants was temporarily prohibited.

In 1980, the Philippines joined the International Coffee Organization after Brazil was hit by a frost in the 1970s. This caused world market prices for this beverage to skyrocket.

Japan

In the 17th century, the Dutch brought coffee to Japan. But it was still a curiosity until 1858’s lifting trade restrictions. In 1888, Tokyo’s first European-style coffee house was launched but shuttered four years later. 

Notwithstanding, the demand for this java was great again in the early 1930s. At that time there were over 30,000 coffee shops across the country. 

Vietnam

Since 1857, Arabica coffee has been brought to Vietnam. The first phase consists of experimental planting in northern provinces. It has been available in Phu Ly and Ha Nam. 

Then, the cultivation spread out to other provinces such as Nghe An, Thanh Hoa, and Ha Tinh. Later, its journey continued in Central Highlands, which was considered one of the best places for the growth of java.

The French colonialists introduced two types of coffee: Robusta and Liberica, in 1908. After discovering that Arabica was ineffective, they introduced Congo java to the Central Highlands.

Trung Nguyen coffee is Vietnam’s most popular brand, exporting to more than 60 countries. It is the product of Dang Le Nguyen Vu, established in 1996.

American Coffee

In 1714, King Louis XIV of France received a java sapling from the Amsterdam Mayor. And then it was grown in the ParisRoyal Botanical Garden.

In 1723, Gabriel de Clieu, a naval officer, got coffee clippings from the tree of King Louis XIV in some way. And then he transported them to Martinique. 

The seedling not only flourished when planted but was also attributed to the spread of approximately 18 million trees on Martinique over the following 50 years.

This sapling gave birth to all java trees in Central America, South America, and the Caribbean. 

Francisco de Mello Palheta, who was dispatched by the Emperor to French Guiana to get seedlings of these plants, is responsible for the legend of the famous Brazilian java.

When he came to France, the French decided to keep the beans as their secret. Yet, the wife of the French Governor was impressed by his attractive looks. And she gave him a big flower bouquet with buried coffee seeds inside. That’s the way the popular drink appeared in Brazil. 

After that, these seeds were transferred to other new lands by explorers, missionaries, colonists, and traders and planted in all regions worldwide.

It had become one of the world’s most valuable export commodities by the end of the 18th century. It is the most sought-after product globally, second only to crude oil until now.

Coffee Plantations

After conquering significant swaths of India, the Dutch began bringing large coffee quantities back to the Netherlands. Previously, nations in the Arabian Peninsula had a near-monopoly on the coffee trade and priced exorbitant rates for it.

The new imported products have been available in northern Europe, reducing prices and increasing the popularity of this fascinating beverage.

Demand grew as supplies rose. More affluent Europeans and their kings tried this deliciously stimulating drink. So the hunt for the plants commenced.

At the beginning of the 1600s, the Dutch successfully grew these trees in the Botanical Gardens in Amsterdam. The trees were flourishing by the mid-1600s. And farmers sent some to different colonies in Ceylon and southern India.

The Dutch soon abandoned these plantations. They moved to colonies in Suriname and Indonesia. They were the main coffee supplier for Europe at that time.

The Coffee Industry Today

Along with its introduction, coffee houses have appeared. And they become the stamping ground for classes to hang out, relax, or discuss. The atmosphere is completely different from the unruly essence of pubs or bars. 

People also find these coffee shops ideal for the first date, meeting friends, studying, or working due to the comfortable settings. 

This drink is perfect for hectic mornings as it brings a rich source of powerful energy for work. That’s why many people can’t survive in the morning without a cup of joe. 

This amazing beverage is currently one of the world’s most popular exports. And the global coffee business employs around 10% of the world’s population.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Was The Original Coffee Use?

Coffee, which is said to have originated in Ethiopia, was used throughout the Middle East in the 16th century to help people concentrate.

What Is The Coffee Birthplace?

Ethiopia takes pride in being its origin, one of the world’s most successful drinks. It was discovered over a thousand years ago in the Kaffa area.

Who First Made Coffee?

Coffee’s origins may be traced millennia to the Ethiopian plateau’s old coffee woods. Legend has it that the goat herder Kaldi recognized the potential of these treasured beans there.

Which Country Drinks Coffee The Most?

The Dutch are Europe’s coffee addicts, drinking an incredible 8.3 kg of java per capita. Some consume up to four cups each day.

The Bottom Line

That’s all about the history of coffee. There are many anecdotes related to the origin of this mood booster, so it’s still a secret. Nevertheless, Ethiopia is commonly supposed to be the birthplace of coffee. 

Hopefully, this article will be helpful for you. Thanks for reading, and see you in the next post!

Rate this post

Almost 20 years already spent committed to coffee and more than 3 years of experience as a barista at Starbucks. Madelyn Doyle graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Nutritional Science from the University of California and finished the Coffee Skills Program at the Specialty Coffee Association (SCA).