Coffee’s History Dates Back Centuries
It’s a mainstay in many households the world over with a commodity ranking of number two, just behind oil production. But how did the worldwide coffee craze get started and what exactly is the history of the little bean loved the globe over for the coffee it creates?
According to legend, the first use of coffee dates back to the 800s when a goat herder named Kaldi discovered his goats had more energy after eating the berries from a specific bush. Kaldi’s story takes place in east Africa and is considered the stuff of lore, however, it wasn’t too much after the 800s that the coffee craze began sweeping the world.
By the 1100s, coffee was being roasted and boiled by the Arabs. It was used in a drink, but there are earlier reports of the beans being eaten by monks, too. Similar to the evolution of cocoa beans, the drink of days gone by is most likely not exactly what we know today. And, also like cocoa, its spread was slow, but methodical.
As time passed, the ability to process beans grew and so did the popularity of coffee as a drink with properties that helped heighten alertness. By the 1400s, Constantinople became the location of the planet’s first coffee shop. That trend continued to Italy, the rest of Europe and the Americas. No doubt different than the coffee houses of today, they were nonetheless “trendsetters.”
By the 1600s, coffee became a major player in the English world, although probably not tipping the scales over tea. In 1688, Edward Lloyd opened his coffeehouse, which later became the world-famous Lloyd’s of London insurance company.
Known for their craftiness in working with the somewhat similar cocoa bean, the Dutch hit the scene in the late 1600s, becoming the first to grow and ship coffee commercially. By the 1700s, coffee was firmly secured as a drink with worldwide appeal.
Although the veracity of the goat herder story is always in question, the fact remains that coffee has a long and proud history. Its spread around the world may have been slow, but the end result is a multi-billion-dollar industry that results in the production of millions of tons of coffee each year. Humble beginnings or not, coffee is more than a craze or a trend, it’s a worldwide player on the commodities market and one that shows no signs of going away.