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The Caffeinated History of Coffee

Aug 18, 2007
Coffee has a long and interesting history. In fact, use of this bean can be traced back to the 9th century during which time it was used in the highlands of Ethiopia. Here, shepherds noticed how the caffeine affected their goats when they ate naturally occurring coffee beans and seemed to dance afterward because of the increased amount of energy they enjoyed.

Beyond Ethiopia, coffee then appeared in Egypt and then in Yemen. By the time the 15th century had rolled around, its use had spread to Turkey, Persia, and northern Africa. It then appeared in Italy as the result of trade between Italy and North Africa and Egypt.

The wealthy citizens of Venice would purchase the coffee, as it was quite expensive. Before long, it was being used all over Europe. It became particularly popular in 1600 after the Pope Clement VIII determined it to be an acceptable Christian beverage.

In 1645, the first European coffee house was introduced in Italy. Then, the Dutch began to import the bean on a massive scale and even smuggled seedlings into the continent in 1690 despite the prohibition set in place by the Arabs that prohibited the exportation of the plant or of its unroasted seeds.

After smuggling the seedlings, the Dutch began to grow crops in Ceylon an in Java. It then became a popular drink in England and was well received by France in 1657. Austria and Poland soon followed.

When coffee finally made it to the American colonies, it did not experience the same amount of success that it had in Europe. Rather, the colonists found it to be a poor replacement for tea. After the Revolutionary War, however, the demand for the drink increased. This was partially because the British had cut of access to tea on a temporary basis. As a result, the demand was so high that the dealers ultimately had to hoard the supplies the had and they raised their prices significantly.

After the American colonists were essentially forced to replace tea with coffee, their taste for the beverage grew stronger. As such, it remained in high demand during the American Civil War and has remained a staple in many American diets ever since.

Today, coffee is found in most US households as well as in households throughout Europe. Several major chains focusing entirely on serving coffee have been established and quaint coffee houses can be found throughout the country.
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