How Coffee Changed the World

When you sip your morning cup of steaming coffee on the way to work, you probably don’t think about the vast history of the coffee bean, the long journey it takes from seed to liquid caffeine, or how great a worldwide commodity it is. But all of these things are integral to the beverage we now could not live without, and after centuries of trade and cultivation of different plants, we can finally look back at the way in which coffee, in essence just a seed, changed the whole world.


Though Brazil is the largest coffee producer today, the coffee bean was first discovered in Ethiopia centuries ago. The bean was soon roasted and brewed, and news of its effects spread across Asia and Europe. Today, coffee is one of the most important crops in the entire world, and many economies are solely reliant on the cultivation and sale of coffee beans. Though the Ethiopian shepherd who was rumored to have discovered the use of coffee may not have predicted the global phenomenon it would grow to be, he may very well have known that the dark, caffeinated substance extracted from coffee beans would change the world for good.

Once the coffee plant was taken from Ethiopia and grown in earnest across the Middle East and Europe, it became a household commodity. After colonization of the Americas, coffee became a cash crop in the Caribbean and South American regions, and remains so to this day.

Coffee Houses

Though Americans may stereotypically imagine the origins of the coffee house to look something like the cafes of Spain or France, the coffee house as we know it originated in the Middle East, where many Arab countries took to the drink and began to sell it around the world. Coffee houses cropped up as intellectual breeding grounds, where people would gather to sip the caffeinated beverage and swap ideas and gather information. Though a far cry from the hip Starbucks stores we see cropping up worldwide, the first coffee houses shared the same function of bringing people together to talk about things that matter to them.

American Popularity

We all know the story of the infamous Boston Tea Party, but little do we realize the immediate implications- the American “coffee party”. When drinking the British staple of tea became an un-American thing to do, many patriots switched over to coffee as their hot beverage of choice- and haven’t looked back. Americans are one the largest consumers of coffee in the world, and spend billions of dollars on it each year.

Today, coffee is the target of much effort to increase fair trade among nations. Sound working conditions and fair wages can be hard to come by in agriculture-rich countries, and many American coffee companies are working hard to ensure that the slave labor that originally made coffee a cash crop will not continue in the decades to come.

Cultivation…and beyond

Cultivation and careful breeding of coffee plants has led to a rich variety of special blends and specialty coffees. At J. Martinez & Company, we supply coffee from all over the world, from the Blue Mountains of Jamaica to the Kona coffee of Hawaii. Though coffee has already drastically shaped the world economy and the way people live today, we hope to continue the tradition of coffee that is ethically sourced and cultivated to perfection.