The story begins in the 11th Century when an Ethiopian goat herder named Kaldi found his goats full of energy after eating the delicious red fruit off the coffee shrub. Curious to find out what had given them so much vigor Kaldi tried the fruit for himself and experienced a similar reaction, before passing the fruit onto a monk who later spent the whole night awake and alert. In Ethiopia, the “magical fruit” leaves were boiled in water for medicinal use before spreading to other continents.
Soon after it’s discovery in Ethiopia, coffee spread quickly to the Arabian Peninsula in the 1300s where it was first drunk following the Ethiopian recipe. Coffee was particularly popular in Yemen where the perfect climate and fertile soil made it the ideal conditions for cultivating rich harvests of the fruit.
The Ottoman Empire later introduced the new way of drinking coffee in the 16th century, after they had grown to love the drink from the Governor of Yemen. Much like today, coffee was made when the beans were roasted over a fire and finely ground before being poured into boiling water. Following this revelation, coffee’s popularity spread much further than Arabia.
In 1615, Europeans had the first taste of coffee when Venetian merchants brought it back with them from Istanbul. Lemonade vendors first sold the drink in the markets before the first coffeehouse opened in Italy in 1645. Incredibly popular, coffee shops popped up everywhere and became a place for artists and students to come together and chat.
The drink first reached the British Isles in 1637 when a Turk introduced the drink to Oxford before establishing the “Oxford Coffee Club” for students and teachers. By the late 17th Century, London coffeehouses were extremely popular, in fact they were an integral part of the city’s social culture.
Often, the coffeehouses in London were frequented by writers, artists, poets, lawyers, politicians and philosophers. In fact, the general public called the coffeehouses’ “Penny Universities” as they had to pay an entrance fee to benefit from the writers “intellectual conversation”.
After years of successful journeys to the rest of Europe and the Americas, coffee had become the world’s most important commodity by the 19thCentury.
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