A STORY OF THE ORIGIN OF COFFEE


Caffeine is the most widely used stimulant in the world, exceeding all other common stimulants and also drugs including nicotine and alcohol. The value of the coffee traded on international commodity markets is surpassed only by oil. Yet for most human history, coffee was many centuries unknown outside a small region in the Ethiopian highlands. Coffee itself has been consumed in Europe only in the last four centuries. There is no coffee in the Torah, or the Bible, or the Koran. There is no coffee in Shakespeare, Dante or Cervantes. After initially being recognized, in the late sixteenth century, by a few sharp-eyed travelers in the Ottoman Empire, coffee gained its first foothold in Europe among curious scientists and merchants. The first coffee-house in Christendom finally opened in London in the early 1650s, a city gripped by revolutionary fervor. In this sense, coffee’s eruption into daily life seems to coincide with the modern historical period.

 

Coffee origins

We do not know exactly when or by whom coffee was discovered. Of the various legends, the first to taste and feel its energizing effect was according to one legend an Ethiopian goatherd named Kaldi. One day, he found his goats running around, dancing and bleating excitedly. As he watched, he saw goats chewing green leaves and red berries of a tree he has never seen before. Kaldi tasted them and was soon frisking with his goats. The word spread around and soon coffee became an integral part of Ethiopian culture.

After another myth, a starving man ate the coffee tree berries and found them bitter so he roasted them. After roasting they were too hard, therefore he grounded and boiled them.

It is likely that, as in the legend, beans and leaves of the coffee tree were at first chewed, but the Ethiopians soon discovered other ways of preparation. They brewed the leaves and berries with hot water as a weak tea. They ground the beans and mixed them with animal fat for added energy value. They even made wine out of the fermented pulp. The brew was first mentioned in print in the tenth century, when the trees were probably already cultivated for hundreds of years. But it was not until fifteenth century, when somewhere in Yemen’s monasteries someone roasted the beans, ground them, and make coffee as we know it today.

At first, coffee was served in an elaborate family ceremony. The wife roasted sun-dried beans over the coals with spices. She gently stirred them until the beans began to crackle. When they have turned a golden brown, she removed them from the fire and cooled the roasted beans with water. Grinded beans were then added a bit of boiling water and served to guests for the ceremonial use.

 

Coffee trip from Ethiopia through Yemen and Islamic world

Coffee beans were first exported from Ethiopia to Yemen, where they began to cultivate the trees, calling it qahwa, an Arab word for wine – from which the name coffee derives. There are also other beliefs of where the word coffee derives from. By the end of the fifteenth century, Muslim pilgrims had introduced coffee throughout the Islamic word in Persia, Egypt, Turkey, and North Africa, making it a lucrative trade item.

 

Troublemaking brew in 16th century

As the drink gained in popularity throughout the sixteenth century, it also gained its reputation as a troublemaking brew. Various rulers decided that people were having too much fun in the coffeehouses, which became places for lively discussions and political debates. The governor of Mecca even determined that coffee, like wine, must be outlawed by the Koran. Thus, the coffee houses of Mecca were forcibly closed in 1511 until the change of government.

In 1536 the Ottoman Turks occupied Yemen and soon afterward the coffee bean became an important export throughout the Turkish Empire. The trade route involved shipping the coffee to Suez and transporting it by camel to Alexandrian warehouses, where it was picked up by French and Venetian merchants. Because the coffee trade had become a major source of income, the Turks guarded their monopoly over the trees’ cultivation in Yemen. No berries were allowed to leave the country unless they first had been steeped in boiling water or partially roasted to prevent germination.

In 1536 the Ottoman Turks occupied Yemen and soon afterward the coffee bean became an important export throughout the Turkish Empire. The trade route involved shipping the coffee to Suez and transporting it by camel to Alexandrian warehouses, where it was picked up by French and Venetian merchants. Because the coffee trade had become a major source of income, the Turks guarded their monopoly over the trees’ cultivation in Yemen. No berries were allowed to leave the country unless they first had been steeped in boiling water or partially roasted to prevent germination.

Inevitably, sometime during the 1600s a Muslim pilgrim smuggled out seven seeds and successfully cultivated them in India. In 1616 some Dutchman managed to transport a tree to Holland from Aden. Cultivation followed in Sumatra, Celebes, Timor, Bali, and other islands in the East Indies, after another Dutchman transplanted trees from Malbar to Java in 1699. During 1700s Java and Mocha became the most famous coffees.

 

Introducing coffee to Europeans

At first Europeans did not know how to make the new brew, but eventually took to coffee with a passion. Pope Clement VII supposedly tasted it at the behest of his priests, who wanted him to ban it, but he found it so delicious, that he exclaimed to baptize it and make it a truly Christian beverage.

The French and British lagged behind the Italians in adopting the coffeehouse. French doctors were frightened by the medicinal claims made for coffee, though some disagreed. It was not until 1689 when an Italian immigrant opened his Café de Procope firectly opposite the Comédie Feancaise that the famous French coffeehouse took root. French actors, authors, dramatists, and musicians were meeting there for coffee and literary conversations. In the next century the café attracted notables such as Voltaire, Rousseau, Diderot, and Benjamin Franklin. It was also a meeting place where men and women could consort without impropriety, as never before.

In the first half of the seventeenth century, coffee was still and exotic beverage only used by the upper class for its supposed medical benefits. Over the next fifty years, however, Europeans were to discover the social as well as medicinal benefits of the Arabian drink. By the 1650s coffee was sold on Italian streets. Cafés quickly became synonymous with relaxed companionship, animated conversations, and tasty food.

In 1710, rather than boiling coffee, the French suspended in a cloth bag, over which boiling water was poured. Soon they also discovered sweetened coffee with milk. Many French citizens took to café au lait, particularly for breakfast.

Coffee arrived in Vienna a bit later than in France. In 1683 the Turkish army, threatening to invade Europe, massed outside Vienna for a prolonged siege. The count in charge of the Viennese troops desperately needed a messenger who could pass through the Turkish lines to reach nearby Polish troops who would come to the rescue. Georg Franz Kolschitzky took on the job, disguised in a Turkish uniform and the Turks were later routed. They left five hundred sacks of coffee behind and the Viennese began to burn them as they thought it was camel fodder. Kolschitzky cought the smell of burning coffee and stopped them. He soon opened the first Vienese café.

Coffee and coffeehouses eventually reached the whole Europe and also America, with little distinction between the tavern and the coffeehouse. However, it remained only the habit of the upper classes.

 

Coffee revolution

Coffee’s growing popularity complemented and sustained the Industrial Revolution, which began in Great Britain during the 1700s and spread to other parts of Europe and North America in the early 1800s. The development of the factory system transformed lives, attitudes, and eating habits. Most people previously had worked at home or in rural craft workshops. They have not divided their time so strictly between work and leisure. They began to use coffee as a meal substitute, because of lack of time for cooking dinner. For the lower class it provided a moment of respite. It aided considerably in the sobering of an alcohol-soaked Europe and provided a social and intellectual catalyst as well. As the European powers brought coffee cultivation to their colonies, the intensive labor required grew. Coffee had become an international commodity that, during the latter part of the nineteenth century, would completely transform the economy, ecology, and politics, mostly of America.

 

Three waves of coffee

From the 19th century, coffee became an important industry and went through three phases.

In 1800’s the first wave of coffee began with entrepreneurs, like Folgers and Maxwell house, who saw a market for providing coffee that was affordable and “ready for the pot”, sacrificing taste and quality to promote convenience and mass production. Pre-roasted and grounded coffee was sealed in small tins.

In 1900’s, the time of modernization and convenient time-saver products, Hills Bros. Coffee invented vacuum packaging, which resulted in fresher beans and hasn’t changed till today. In 1903 Satori Kato invented instant coffee, applying his dehydration process for soluble tea, to coffee. No brewing equipment was needed and was quick and easy to use. Nestle’s Nescafe instant coffee followed in 1938. By 1970 almost one third of coffee was produced into instant coffee. Vincent Marotta invented the first automatic drip home coffee machines named Mr. Right!

In 1900’s, the time of modernization and convenient time-saver products, Hills Bros. Coffee invented vacuum packaging, which resulted in fresher beans and hasn’t changed till today. In 1903 Satori Kato invented instant coffee, applying his dehydration process for soluble tea, to coffee. No brewing equipment was needed and was quick and easy to use. Nestle’s Nescafe instant coffee followed in 1938. By 1970 almost one third of coffee was produced into instant coffee. Vincent Marotta invented the first automatic drip home coffee machines named Mr. Right!

Starbucks was first specializing only in serving fresh roasted coffee beans. The founders declined the notion to sell brewed coffee drinks until the company was purchased. The new management decided to sell pre-ground coffee espresso, latte… One new location opened every work day and more than 3000 locations were opened untill 2000. The coffe shop experience was introduced to the masses and Starbucks became a model for many following cafés.

The term specialty coffee was first determined by Erna Knutsen, of Knutsen Coffee Ltd., in her speech on an international coffee conference in Montreuil, France, in 1978. Her concept was based on the importance of special geographic microclimates produce beans with unique flavor profiles, which she refers to as specialty coffee. The beans should be well prepared, freshly roasted, and properly brewed.

Marketing and social growth are not the driving force anymore. The emphasis is on transparency within coffee industry, meaning that consumers can trace the heritage of their coffee to the very farm from which it was harvested. Small businesses are evolving, managed by great coffee enthusiasts. Some of the larger 3rd wave businesses on the market are Intelligentsia Coffee & Tea (Chicago), Counter Culture Coffee (North Carolina) and Stumptown Coffee Roasters (Portland). “The Big Three” product is high quality, provide direct trade and practice sustainable business managing and coffee education.

 

Coffee in gastronomy and on gastronomy events

Marketing and social growth are not the driving force anymore. The emphasis is on transparency within coffee industry, meaning that consumers can trace the heritage of their coffee to the very farm from which it was harvested. Small businesses are evolving, managed by great coffee enthusiasts. Some of the larger 3rd wave businesses on the market are Intelligentsia Coffee & Tea (Chicago), Counter Culture Coffee (North Carolina) and Stumptown Coffee Roasters (Portland). “The Big Three” product is high quality, provide direct trade and practice sustainable business managing and coffee education.

Coffee Associations across the whole world organize a wide variety of educational events (Barista Classes, Coffee Buyer Classes, eExams, eLearning Classes, Golden Cup Technical Classes, Roaster Classes…), tastings/cuppings, competitions and others.

 

Conclusion

Coffee industry is a complex system of participles, which has to work perfectly in order to create top quality coffee experience. Therefore, I believe it has to be valued high and every participant has to be appreciated. With the new trend that is offering us an insight into the origins and production of our coffee, we can also provide fair trades and fair paying to the farmers.

 

 

Kristina Nagode