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Information On The History Of Coffee

Jan 24, 2008
The history of coffee is long and varied, full of intrigue and excitement. There are a couple of different legends about how coffee was discovered. One says that a shepherd discovered coffee after observing his sheep getting very active after eating the berries off of certain plants. He tried them, and felt the same boost of energy. The story goes that a passing monk observed this, and scolded the shepherd for eating of the "devil's fruit." The monks soon found out, however, that the berries would help them remain awake during prayers.

Another legend tells the tale of an Arab, banished to the desert with his followers. Facing starvation, they boiled and ate the berries of a plant they stumbled across. The broth saved the starving exiles, and the nearby town, Mocha, took it as a sign from above. They called the plant and its drink Mocha, in honor of the town. A short history of coffee is as follows...

The coffee plant, Coffea arabica, is native to Ethiopia. Ancient Ethiopians used the coffee beans rolled in animal fat as food. From Ethiopia, coffee made its way to Yemen, where it was first brewed into a beverage. Once coffee was transported to Arabia, however, it was monopolized by the Arabs, who forbade the seeds to be exported. Once seeds were smuggled out, however, coffee was spread to India and Turkey. From there, coffee began to pursue world domination.

By 1600, coffee had been discovered by Italian traders. The Pope, urged by his advisors to ban the drink as evil, tasted it, and baptized it instead, introducing coffee to the Christian population. Captain John Smith brought coffee as part of his supplies to the New World in 1607, and is thought to be the man who introduced coffee to North America.

By 1652, coffee houses started sprouting up in England, and became the place for both learned and the general population to gather. They were dubbed penny universities, since everyone talked over their cups of coffee, which each cost a penny. In 1674, the British "Women's Petition Against Coffee" was published, declaring that coffee was depriving them of their husbands and causing impotence.

The Dutch are responsible for smuggling coffee out of Arabia in 1690, and introducing it to Java and Ceylon. They became the first people to cultivate coffee commercially, thus creating what would become the world's largest agricultural commodity.

In 1713, the Dutch unwittingly gave King Louis XIV of France a coffee plant. In 1723, a French naval officer stole a cutting, taking it all the way to Martinique. In fifty years, Martinique was growing over 19 million coffee trees.

In 1727, Lieutenant Colonel Francisco de Melo Palheta visited French Guiana, to settle a dispute between the French and the Dutch. He and the Governor's wife became involved, and although the French took great care to control its coffee plantations in the New World, he slipped off with seeds and cuttings when he left. His paramour sent him on his way with a bouquet of flowers... concealing the smuggled coffee cuttings. He took them to Brazil, who today is the world's largest coffee producing nation.

And so it continued. Coffee became America's patriotic drink after the Boston Tea Party. Coffee production has grown exponentially. The history of coffee is like no other... and will probably continue to expand.
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Administrator of Coffee Information a site containing information on many, many types of Coffee Information.
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