How Drinking Coffee Has Changed Through the Years

Coffee is a drink that has developed right along humankind. In a lot of ways, the history of coffee is the history of humanity. It’s found in records of ancient cultures. It had its day in the instant, fast-food culture of the 70s and 80s. It has evolved into a gourmet drink with thousands of varieties, blends, roasting methods and flavors.

One thing is for sure, we as a people love our coffee, and that’s not likely to change. Did you ever wonder, though, how it got to where it is today? Read about the history of coffee, how drinking coffee has changed throughout the years, and where it’s going to take us in the future.

The Legendary History of Coffee

The truth is, we don’t really know exactly how coffee was first discovered. There’s a popular legend that it was first discovered in Ethiopia, where a shepherd named Kaldi noted that some of his goats were acting overly energized and refusing to sleep after eating the berries from a nearby tree. When he reported this to local monks, they made a drink from the berries, discovering that it kept them awake and alert during their prayer vigil.

News of this miracle berry spread, and eventually, we got where we are today.

Coffee Spreads

We can trace the history of coffee to before the 15th century, on the Arabian Peninsula. By the 16th century it was all over the Middle East. Believe it or not, in these early days we also saw the origin of coffee houses, which at the time were called qahveh khaneh. They were very much like the cafes of the modern day, where patrons would talk, engage in intellectual pursuits, listen to music and entertainment and the like.

Coffee in Europe and the New World

By the 17th century, coffee had reached Europe, where it was denounced as a tool of the Devil until Pope Clement VIII gave it a seal of papal approval. At this time, coffee became a preferred breakfast drink, replacing beer and wine. It was around the mid-17th century that it came to the New World, but it didn’t become popular here until the Boston Tea Party and the revolt against the tea tax. Thomas Jefferson referred to coffee as, “the favorite drink of the civilized world.”

New World Blends

Coffee became a major trade commodity throughout the first 150 years of the United States, and we saw plantations show up outside of the Middle East for the first time. It was used as a trade good between colonists and Native Americans, and we also began to see things like chicory and dandelion root added to mellow the flavor and even, when it became rare, to replace coffee altogether.


Technology has changed coffee even more, with new ways of roasting, grinding and brewing the beans leading to a smoother and more complex palate of flavors. Instant coffee became available around the 1930s and was treasured by troops in wartime. First percolators, then drip brew machines, replaced brewing it over an open fire, and decaffeinated coffee erupted into life for those who like the drink, but not the effects. Through the 50s to 80s coffee houses went underground, replaced by faster, cheaper brews that were mass-produced. By the 1990s coffee houses made a comeback, and have become part and parcel of our culture today!

Not only is coffee a wonderful, flavorful beverage, it’s got health benefits as well! The history of coffee is intertwined with the history of civilization. Of course, the better the brew, the better the benefits. Martinez Fine Coffees carries a wealth of fine coffee beans for any need, home or office. Read a bit about us, and get in touch for more information today!