Popularity of Coffee

ethiopia coffee

Brewing and drinking coffee has become an almost natural part of society. You can see it all around you, especially in the mornings: people with bleary vision and bags under their eyes walking stupefied down the hall until they get that first cup of coffee. Then they are off to the races in a blink. Problem solved.

Coffee has been so ingrained in our society, have you ever wondered where exactly it came from, or why, for that matter, it became so popular? At Martinez Fine Coffees, we have found this topic fascinating as well and have provided little more about the history of coffee for you.

Effects of Coffee

The most obvious reason coffee became so popular is because of its effects. Used to relieve physical fatigue and boost mental alertness, coffee contains caffeine that has proved effective these last several centuries in getting even the groggiest and most stressed person back on their feet in no time at all.

When these effects were first discovered, people no doubt took a liking to coffee right away.

Origin of Coffee

The origins of coffee are very vague, but it is popularly believed that coffee came from the forests of Ethiopia, where legends say that a goat herder discovered the power of the coffee bean over a thousand years ago. After sharing this knowledge with the abbot of a local monastery, word of the powerful effects of coffee started to spread far and wide, eventually reaching the Arabian peninsula.

Start of Coffee Cultivation

Whereas legends point to Ethiopia as the birthplace of coffee, recorded history finds popular coffee consumption beginning about the 15th century. Yemeni traders would bring back coffee beans from Ethiopia and start to cultivate it themselves. After another hundred years or so, coffee was being grown and consumed throughout Egypt, Syria, Persia, and Turkey.

First a personal beverage, coffee quickly became commercialized, and public coffeehouses started appearing all over the Near East. While enjoying coffee in these venues, patrons could engage in conversation, listen to music, and play games with one another, leading eventually to the concept of modern coffee dates.

With thousands of pilgrims coming to the area each year from all over the world for their annual pilgrimage, and with trade routes ripe and open, coffee soon started to spread outwards.

European Reaction to Coffee

Coffee slowly started to trickle into Europe due to traders and travelers, and during the 17th century, it had started to become popular throughout the continent. By the end of the century, coffeehouses had sprung up all over Europe, some of which are still open in some form to this day.

What is most interesting about this time is the initial European resistance against coffee. For example, when coffee came to Venice in the 1600s, the local clergy asked Pope Clement VIII to ban the drink. After sampling it himself, however, the Pope gave it his approval instead.

Another fun fact: during this time, breakfast drinks ran the gamut from nothing to beer or wine. As coffee started to sweep across Germany, France, and England, it naturally became the go-to morning beverage, due to its livening effects on the body.

Coffee and Colonization

Once the Europeans embraced coffee, it quickly became one of the most valuable trading commodities on the market. To the surprise of no one, this meant establishing plantations throughout the world and spreading the cultivation of this bean, leading to intense competition between nations for available colonies.

The Dutch were initially the first to attempt harvesting coffee outside of Arabia. After procuring seedlings, they tried setting up coffee plantations in India but were unsuccessful. The island of Java, in what is now Indonesia, proved a much better option, and by the start of the 18th century, the Dutch production and trade of coffee was thriving. They would later expand coffee cultivation to Sumatra and Celebes.

Seedlings were later acquired by the French, who transported them safely to the island of Martinique in the Caribbean to begin cultivation. Here the plants took root at once, spreading all over the island in a matter of years. From there, coffee beans would spread to the other Caribbean Islands and into South and Central America.

As the world continued to expand during this time, missionaries, traders, and colonists would actively spread coffee seeds to new lands, establishing massive plantations the world over. Nations and colonies would rise and fall over their coffee economy, and with the end of the 18th century, coffee had become one of the most profitable cash crops in the world.

Coffee Today

Still mostly cultivated in the developing world, coffee production has hardly declined in the last century. More and more people today are consuming coffee regularly and, depending on your tastes and preferences, you can have your coffee served any number of ways. For example, you can make your own with a store brand by picking up a quick one at Starbucks or even McDonalds. You can sample a small hole in the wall coffeehouse and get a personally brewed beverage. Basically, wherever you decide to get your coffee, you have plenty of options in today’s world.

Try Unique New Brands Today!

The history of coffee is so long and varied that there are literally an endless number of varieties in the world you could hope to sample. Unfortunately, unless you are a connoisseur with access to unlimited travel, you might have a hard time with this pursuit.

This is where Martinez Fine Coffees can help. For twenty years we have been roasting and brewing some of the finest estate and single origin coffee you are liable to find anywhere, and we want to bring that rich new experience to you. We roast and ship daily to discerning customers no matter where in the world you are, so should you like to learn more about our process or would like to make an order yourself, contact one of our representatives right away.