The Birth of Our Coffee Culture

It’s early in the morning and your alarm goes off. You gather yourself together, pull yourself out of bed, and put on your favorite pot of coffee. The aroma fills the air invigorating your senses and filling you with energy to conquer your day! Sound like a familiar routine? It’s one that most go through every single morning! 500 billion cups of coffee are drank every single day around the world to be exact! We beg to ask the question; how did this worldwide tradition come to exist?

A Legendary Legacy

The origination of coffee is one shrouded in mystery. There is no actual set date of when coffee was first discovered but legend tells of a goat herder living in Kaffa, Ethiopia. That goat herder was a simple man by the name of Kaldi. As most men living in Ethiopia during that time Kaldi supported his family by tending to his goats. One fateful day he started to take notice in their behavior. He realized that when they ate these magical beans the goats were suddenly energized and full of life! They would run through the fields and had an alertness he hadn’t noticed before! Kaldi brought the beans to his wife, explaining their supernatural effects, and she convinced him to bring their attention to the local monks in the ministries but once he got there his idea wasn’t welcomed with open arms. The monks laughed at his ridiculous notion. How could a silly little bean produce anything magical? They brought the beans to a fire and threw them in never thinking of what was to come next. As the beans roasted slowly the aroma of the coffee filled the air captivating the attention of the monks. They quickly put out the fire, retrieved the beans, ground them, and brewed them with hot water. The world’s first cup of coffee was created!

A Caffeine Revolution

coffeejungle.jpeg

One of the first traces of known coffee consumption was by the monks of Safi, Yemen. The monks found the coffee to give them an abundant amount of energy needed for long hours of prayer. Soon after, talks of this energy packed bean spread and coffee was brought all throughout the Middle East and Northern Africa! Places like Persia, and Turkey were well known for its citizens to indulge in this dark, mysterious beverage and the first ever coffee house was erected in Constantinople (now Istanbul) in 1475 named Kiva Han. The coffee became well known as the wine of Arabia!

It is thought that coffee was brought over by merchants through trade into Europe but it actually became popularized in Venice, Italy. To this day coffee and Italy go together like peanut butter and jelly! Where do you think we get such words as ristretto, piccolo, and cappuccino? A piece of history lives on! European nations such as France, England, and Italy started to adopt this drink into their daily routines but it was the Dutch who saw its true potential! The Dutch brought the beans into Java, Indonesia and it became the second largest production of coffee known to man. Coffee houses started sprouting throughout all of Europe with 300 in England alone but it wasn’t what they are today. Only men were allowed in such establishments and the only women allowed to step foot inside a coffeehouse was a prostitute. Yes, you read that right! You see, coffeehouses were the internet of today. Men of all classes came together under one roof, surrounding the bitter drink, and socialized! They spoke of local news, ideas were born, games of chess were played, music filled the air, and men debated on all matters of politics. But, not everyone felt so welcoming of this new trend! In 1511 scholars were banned from drinking coffee in Mecca by ruler Khin Beg. A meeting place of the minds was something to be feared! Rumors spread of bad talk of the ruler under such establishments and with the fear of a devious plan being plotted against him he banned such establishments in the city. The ban lasted until 1524. Could you imagine our world now with no coffee available for 13 years? Madness would erupt! In 1524 Sultan Selim I of the Ottoman Turkish Empire overturned this absurd rule, executed Khin Beg, and declared coffee sacred.

Coffee’s reputation was still on the line even as far as Europe. It had been outlawed by the Catholic society in many parts of Europe and deemed the drink of Satan! The Catholics associated the drink with Muslim religious rituals and compared it to wine in Catholic rituals. They called this drink an intoxicating liquor and believed it to be a bitter wine. It wasn’t until this drink was brought to the attention of Pope Clement VIII who instantly fell in love with the irresistible concoction.

This devil’s drink is delicious. We should cheat the devil by baptizing it.
— Pope Clement VIII

Truthfully, we owe all of our mornings to the great Pope Clement! If it were not for him the Western World would not be the same. Could you imagine mornings with no coffee; or no coffee shops to do our diligent work in? A world without the beautiful aroma of freshly roasted beans on every corner is a sad world indeed! Why this man doesn’t have a holiday named after him is beyond us!

Spilling the Tea on Coffee in the Americas

coffeemidcentury.jpeg

Coffee had found its way as far as the New World! Though it wasn’t as popular as its distant cousin, the tea, coffee started to make a name for itself even in the Americas. The first ever coffee shop in the states was opened in 1689 in none other than Boston, Massachusetts. Bean town is correct! In 1720 coffee became even more popular when a french naval officer brought it to the western world and sold it to plantations. Places like Haiti, Brazil, and Mexico started mass producing the beans and selling them all over the world. In fact, 80% of coffee grown worldwide came from Brazil and to this day is it the largest source of coffee beans! Alas, it still wasn’t the home stretch for coffee! Since women weren’t allowed in the coffee establishments they started feeling the absence of their husbands. Men would spend hours in coffee houses while wives would be subjected to staying at home with the children often drinking tea. Thus, the women’s petition against coffee began.

coffeepetition.jpg

Women complained their husbands were “turning turk” , excessively babbling, and becoming impotent. We believe however, that this was a conspiracy put on by the politicians in an aid to stop revolt ideas among the men!

ship.jpeg

In 1773 America enacted one of the most famous protests in history, the Boston Tea Party. In an attempt to demonstrate that they were done with Britain’s excessive taxation Americans spilled all of the tea into the ocean below! Tea took a step back and coffee became the star of the show!

Coffee Today

Today, coffee is more than just a bitter drink. Coffee is a familiar friend you can count on to pick you up in the morning; it is two friends catching up after a long time of not speaking and the first date to a lifetime of love. So many aspects of our lives revolve around this notorious drink and we wouldn’t have it any other way!

Want to learn more about coffee? Watch this amazing video!

andreea marinComment