The Brilliant Bean
We do not know exactly when the secret of the coffee plant was discovered, but there are several stories that give us a good idea.
An Arabic doctor named Rhazes, made reference to the coffee plant as early as 900 B.C. He considered the berries found on a coffee plant to be good for the stomach.
Discovered by Goats
The second story dates back to around 300 A.D. An Ethiopian goat herder named Kaldi noticed his goats were eating the red berries of a green plant. To his amazement Kaldi noticed his herd were always full of energy & froliced around well into the evening. Kaldi was curious & so ate some of the berries himself, he found he too was full of energy, or I suppose you could say, 'full of beans!'
Monks Discover Coffee
Kaldi relayed his story to monks from the nearby abbey, they went on to use the berries to stay awake and alert during their nightly prayer services. By pure coincidence the monks discovered that you could roast the beans and make them into a delicious drink, far nicer than eating the berries! From this time on, coffee beans & their extract have been used as a daily pick me up by people all over the world.
Cultivating Coffee in the Yemen
The first organised cultivation of coffee appeared in the terrace gardens of Yemen. Islamic pilgrims who travelled to Mecca and Medina introduced the use of coffee into the Near East. The cultivation of coffee continued to spread across Arabia and Egypt & drinking coffee, or kahweh, soon became a daily habit.
Coffee Houses in Europe
In the 17th century coffee use spread across Europe & the popularity of the drink grew incredibly quickly. Coffee houses started opening up everywhere, inparticular Italy, United Kingdom, The Netherlands, France and Germany.
Coffee Across the World
Early in the 18th century the popularity of coffee started to spread across the world. The Dutch introduced coffee to Indonesia, the French took coffee plants with them to Martinique and the Spanish established plantations in the Caribbean, Central America and Brazil. Douwe Egberts was established in the Netherlands in 1753.
Nowadays Brazil is the worlds largest coffee producer, followed by Vietnam, Colombia and Indonesia. However there are a large number of other countries producing smaller quantities. Worldwide, more than 20 million people earn their living by working in the coffee industry.