The origin of coffee
The story goes that that Kaldi discovered coffee after he noticed that after eating the berries from a certain tree, his goats became so energetic that they did not want to sleep at night.
Kaldi reported his findings to the abbot of the local monastery, who made a drink with the berries and found that it kept him alert through the long hours of evening prayer. The abbot shared his discovery with the other monks at the monastery, and knowledge of the energising berries began to spread.
The Arabian Peninsula
Coffee cultivation and trade began on the Arabian Peninsula. By the 15th century, coffee was being grown in the Yemeni district of Arabia and by the 16th century it was known in Persia, Egypt, Syria, and Turkey.
Coffee was not only enjoyed in homes, but also in the many public coffee houses which began to appear in cities across the Near East. The popularity of the coffee houses was huge, and people frequently went to them for all kinds of social activity. Pilgrims would visit the holy city of Mecca each year from all over the world, knowledge of this “wine of araba” began to spread.
Coffee Arrives in Europe
European travellers to the Near East brought back stories of an unusual dark black beverage. By the 17th century, coffee had made its way to Europe and was becoming popular across the continent.
Coffee began to replace the common breakfast drink beverages of the time — beer and wine. Those who drank coffee instead of alcohol began the day alert and energized, and not surprisingly, the quality of their work was greatly improved.
By the mid-17th century, there were over 300 coffee houses in London, many of which attracted like-minded patrons, including merchants, shippers, brokers and artists.
Many businesses grew out of these specialized coffee houses. Lloyd's of London, for example, came into existence at the Edward Lloyd's Coffee House.
The New World
In the mid-1600's, coffee was brought to New Amsterdam, later called New York by the British.
Though coffee houses rapidly began to appear, tea continued to be the favoured drink in the New World until 1773, when the colonists revolted against a heavy tax on tea imposed by King George. The revolt, known as the Boston Tea Party, would change the American drinking preference to coffee.
Plantations Around the World
As demand for the beverage continued to spread, there was fierce competition to cultivate coffee outside of Arabia.
The Dutch finally got seedlings in the latter half of the 17th century. Their first attempts to plant them in India failed, but they were successful with their efforts in Batavia, on the island of Java in what is now Indonesia.
The plants thrived and soon the Dutch had a productive and growing trade in coffee. They then expanded the cultivation of coffee trees to the islands of Sumatra and Celebes.