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Coffee History - The Origins Of The Devil's Drink?

Jan 26, 2008
From frappuchinos to lattes to macchiatos, coffee has become a staple in our society. The popularity of chains like Starbucks and Caribou coffee is only one indicator of how dependent our society has become on coffee. Coffee isn't anything new; in fact, coffee has been popular for over four hundred years. The history of coffee is anything but dull.

The Early History Of Coffee

There are various myths and legends about the discovery of the coffee bean. Some people say that an Ethiopian sheep herder noticed that when his sheep ate small red "cherries?from a particular plant, they became hyperactive. The sheep herder tried the fruit himself and noticed the same effect.

Another legend tells the story of an Arabian who was banished to the desert with his followers. Out of pure desperation, the Arabs boiled and ate the fruit from an unknown plant, thus surviving the exile.

Whichever myth you choose to believe, the fact is that coffee originated in Ethiopia. In Ethiopia, the plant was not used as a drink. In fact, the earliest use of the coffee bean was by the Galla tribe, who wrapped the beans in animal fat before eating them.

After the plant was brought to Arabia, the Arabians began experimenting with its use as a drink. One of the earliest versions of coffee as we know it today is "qahwa?(which, directly translated, means "that which prevents sleep?, made in 1000 AD.

Coffee Goes Commercial

The next era in the history of coffee is the commercial era. The first coffee shop opened in Constantinople in 1475, after the drink was introduced to the region in 1453. Italian traders were the first to introduce coffee to the Western world in 1600, and in 1607, John Smith is believed to have introduced the drink the Americas.

The coffee industry began booming after it was introduced to Europe. Italy's first coffee shop opened in 1645, and in 1652, the first coffee shop opened in England. The first Parisian coffee house opened in 1672.

Making History - Coffee's Historical Significance

The Boston Tea Party in 1773 was a significant event in the history of coffee, because the boycott of the English tea made coffee even more essential to American colonists. In fact, drinking coffee was almost considered a patriotic requirement.

The Invention Of Instant Coffee

The history of modern coffee begins with the invention of instant coffee. Japanese-American Satori Kato invented the first instant coffee drink in 1901, and it was mass produced in 1906 after English chemist George Constant Washington perfected the drink. By 1940, the United States imported 70 percent of the world's coffee crop.

Think Before You Drink

The next time you're waiting in line at Starbucks for your double vanilla mocha latte, remember that coffee wasn't always so easily accessible. Many people take coffee for granted, yet history shows that coffee has come a long way since the days of the Galla!
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