The History of Coffee
The discovery of coffee is not clearly documented, but it is thought to have occurred in Ethiopia in the thirteenth century. Coffee use and cultivation began in Yemen and spread to surrounding countries within a century. Its energising properties made it a popular drink in the Muslim world, where alcohol is forbidden.
The next stage was domestic consumption of coffee and public coffee houses, which soon became customary. Coffee houses were social hubs where news, information and ideas were spread, earning them the name “Schools of the Wise”. Coffee, or “The Wine of Araby” as it was called, was drunk while playing chess, listening to music or enjoying other entertainments.
Venetian traders first introduced coffee to Italy, where its use was opposed until the Pope gave it his blessing. In the mid 17th Century, coffee houses quickly became popular, spreading throughout central Europe, and further afield to Scandinavia and Russia. In England they became know as “Penny Universities”, attracting famous patrons, tradesmen, artists, politicians and brokers. Liberal political ideologies were discussed, and public debate became more common. This contributed to considerable social changes, as well as the formation of business enterprises like Lloyd’s of London.
Global Expansion, Economy and Trade
Trade in coffee grew rapidly. The formation of Dutch, British, French, Spanish and Portuguese colonies across the world led to an increase in the number of coffee plantations. The Dutch East India Company led the way by importing from Indonesia. Coffee is now grown in more than seventy countries, many of whose economies are solely dependent on it, and it is second only to oil as the world’s most lucrative commodity. With the pressure for greener farming methods and the need to minimise the environmental impact, demand for organic coffee has increased.
Development of Brewing Equipment
In the quest for better tasting coffee, a large array of new equipment was developed, with each new innovation garnering enthusiastic support from those who thought it superior to all others. The coffee pot was modified by adding a top chamber that allowed water to drip through the coffee grounds, and the cafetiere style coffeepot, which uses a sieve and plunger attachment, became popular.
The espresso machine was invented in 1822. An automatic model followed in 1933, with Gaggia making the high pressure model in 1946. The percolator appeared in 1865, and Melitta Bentz invented the filter, which was patented 1908. The first instant coffee was invented in 1901 and started to be mass produced five years later, with freeze dried coffee making its debut in 1938.
The Coffee Cantata by Bach is a satirical comic piece about coffee addiction. Coffee has become part of daily life around the world, and generations have happily admitted to their daily need for a caffeine fix. The seductive aroma and rich taste is a pleasure few can live without. Outlets can be found on streets, in cafes and stores, including bookshops, which provide comfortable seating to encourage regular clientele. Latte art is the ultimate expression of the delightful enjoyment of coffee.
- License: Royalty Free or iStock source: http://www.sxc.hu/photo/1380206
- License: Royalty Free or iStock source: http://www.sxc.hu/photo/1383174
Author Colin McDonald. Being a confirmed coffee addict, I recently had a bean to cup coffee machine installed into my workplace (thanks to the guys at www.liquidline.co.uk) on a trial and soon realised this trial was only going to end one way, as a permanent fixture! So thought time to learn a little about the history of my favourite drink.