Coffee goes back thousands of years.The first Coffee trees appeared in Africa, specifically in Kaffa Abyssinia, a region in present day, Ethiopia. Local tribes would knead coffee leaves and flowers with animal fat to give to their warriors before a battle as an energy boost; it was since then that coffee was cherished for its ability to stimulate. Coffee became known as a substance with almost supernatural qualities, that had medicinal effects on those who consumed it.
There are many stories and myths claiming the discovery of Coffee, but there are two stories, we believe stand out.
The one is about a shepherd named Kaldi, who noticed that his herds became more lively and active after chewing on the red fruits of a wild bush. He decided to try it for himself, and he soon found himself dancing about with his goats. It was only normal that he wished to share his discovery; so he went down to the Monastery and revealed his finding to the Bishop. The bishop in turn boiled the red fruit and drunk the liquid. He was surprised to find out that it was much easier for him to stay up all night, and shared this with the other monks and they all begun to use this magic liquid to help them stay awake.
The second story refers to a dervish muslim who had been condemned by his enemies to endlessly wander in the desert. During a most desperate moment he heard a voice from the sky leading him to eat the red coffee beans; unable to chew the beans he decided to soften them by soaking them in water but finding this to be of no help he drank the liquid instead. The drink gave him such strength and energy that he was grateful to Allah and decided then and there to devote himself to Allah and to his magic drink.
Coffee finds its way around the world
The Arabs were the first to cultivate coffee trees and trade coffee: by the 15th century Yemen had a systematic Coffee cultivation and by the 16th century, coffee was consumed in Persia, Egypt, Syria, and Turkey.
It is reckoned that the popularity of coffee in the Arab world was favored due to the prohibition of alcohol by the Koran. Coffee became «God’s wine» and muslim populations consumed it in private and public locations, just as is consumed today.
Coffee was spread to Europe by the Venetian tradesmen and ever since the Italians lay claim to the Coffee throne triumphantly.
The Route of the Coffee Tree
The journey begins in the hands of the Dutch who towards the end of the 17th century manage to smuggle a coffee tree from Mocha in Arabia, and replant it in their colony Ceylan and Java. They then gave a coffee tree as a gift to Ludvic the 14th of France, who in turn, becomes responsible for reproducing the tree.
By 1720 a young French naval officer, Gabriel Mathieu of Clieu, transports the coffee tree to the New World, specifically Martinique; and with this the cultivation of coffee trees begins to spread first through the Caribbean and then moves to all the south American countries with tropical climates, perfect for its growth. It is worthwhile noting that the coffee tree arrived in Kenya and Tanzania, neighboring countries to Ethiopia, only 6 centuries later!
Today, coffee is the second most traded resource after oil. Brazil is by far the largest producing country, Colombia is in second place and the US has the largest coffee consumption.