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The history of coffee – from Ethiopia to the world

HISTORY OF COFFEE: From Ethiopia to the World

Coffee is an essential part of many people’s lives today, with over 2.25 billion cups of coffee consumed worldwide every day. But did you know that the history of coffee dates back to antiquity, and that its journey to becoming a global phenomenon was a long and winding road? In this article, we’ll take a deep dive into the origins of coffee, its cultural and economic impact throughout history, and how it became the beloved beverage we know today.

The Birthplace of Coffee: Ethiopia

The legend of coffee’s origin begins in Ethiopia, where the ancient story tells of a goat herder named Kaldi. Kaldi discovered that his goats became unusually lively after eating some berries from a certain tree. He tried the berries himself and discovered they had a similar effect on his own energy levels.

The Discovery of Coffee

Some 200 years ago, the Dutch merchant Pieter van der Broeck spotted a few plants in the garden of an Arab governor of Yemen in the port city of Mocha. The Arab world had long been using coffee beans to make a drink called “qahwa”, and they had managed to keep the knowledge of it a secret from the outside world for centuries.

Coffee’s Rise to Fame: The Arab World

Arab traders and travelers brought coffee from Ethiopia across the Red Sea to Yemen, where it began to be cultivated on a larger scale. Coffee quickly became a popular drink in the Islamic world, where it was believed to have medicinal and spiritual benefits.

The Birth of Coffee Houses

The earliest known coffee houses were established in Mecca, a holy city where pilgrims would gather to visit the Kaaba. These coffee houses became important cultural and social hubs, where people would come to discuss politics, philosophy, and religion over a cup of coffee. As coffee spread throughout the Arab world, so did the custom of gathering in coffee houses.

The Spread of Coffee to Europe

Coffee remained a closely guarded secret in the Arab world until the 16th century, when a group of Venetian merchants brought coffee to Venice, where it was quickly embraced as a luxury drink. By the 17th century, coffee had become fashionable throughout Europe, with coffee houses springing up in major cities like London and Paris.

Coffee in Colonial America

Coffee was introduced to North America in the mid-17th century by European colonizers. The first coffeehouse in North America was established in the British colony of Virginia in 1696. Coffee quickly became a popular drink in the American colonies, where it was embraced as an alternative to tea, which had become synonymous with British rule.

The Boston Tea Party

In 1773, tensions between American colonists and the British government reached a boiling point over the issue of tea taxes. In protest, a group of colonists dressed as Native Americans dumped 342 chests of tea into Boston Harbor, an event that came to be known as the Boston Tea Party. This event helped to cement coffee as the national beverage of the United States.

The Industrial Revolution and Coffee

The invention of steam-powered machinery during the Industrial Revolution led to significant changes in coffee production. Rather than being harvested by hand and roasted over an open fire, coffee began to be produced on a mass scale using mechanical equipment.

Instant Coffee

In 1901, the first commercial instant coffee was invented, making it easier than ever to brew a quick cup of coffee at home or on the go.

Coffee Filters

The first coffee filters were invented in 1908, making it easier to brew high-quality coffee without the need for a more time-consuming process.

The Rise of Specialty Coffee

In the 20th century, coffee began to go through a period of specialization. Specialty coffees began to emerge, brewed from high-quality beans that were sourced from specific regions of the world.

Fair Trade Coffee

In the late 20th century, concerns over the treatment of coffee farmers and the impact of large-scale coffee production on the environment led to the fair trade movement.

Third Wave Coffee

In the early 21st century, a movement known as “third wave coffee” emerged. Third wave coffee focuses on the entire coffee experience, from the brewing process to the tasting notes and sourcing of the beans.


What is coffee made of?

Coffee is made from the roasted seeds of the Coffea plant.

When was the first coffeehouse opened?

The first coffeehouse was opened in Mecca, in the early 16th century.

What is the best way to brew coffee?

There is no “best” way to brew coffee, as it depends on personal preference. Some popular methods include drip brewing, French press, and espresso.

Is caffeine bad for you?

Moderate caffeine consumption is generally considered safe for most people, but excessive consumption can cause a range of negative side effects.

How much coffee is consumed in the world?

Over 2.25 billion cups of coffee are consumed worldwide every day.

Can you make coffee without a coffee maker?

Yes, there are many ways to make coffee without a traditional coffee maker, including using a French press, a pour-over cone, or even a sock.


From its humble beginnings as a goat herder’s discovery in Ethiopia to its status as a global phenomenon, coffee has had a long and fascinating journey throughout history. Today, it remains an essential part of many people’s daily routines, thanks to its unique taste, energizing effects, and cultural significance. Whether you prefer a simple cup of drip coffee or a specialty blend from a local roaster, there is no denying the impact that coffee has had on our society and our world.


COPYRIGHT Nordico Coffee House SRL


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