About Dobré Coffee

About Coffee – History of Coffee

Origins and References

The history of coffee is as rich as coffee itself, dating for more than 1000 years. In West, the history of coffee starts three centuries ago, but in the Middle East it is consumed by all social classes since ancient times.First coffee reference, from registered sources, dates from the ninth century, but many centuries before there were Arab legends about the mysterious and bitter drink with energizing powers. The first coffee plants were brought on the Red Sea coast from Africa.

In the beginnings, coffee was considered food but not drink. East African tribes used to ground raw coffee beans and by mixing them with animal fat they obtained a paste which was shaped in the form of balls. These were consumed by tribe’s warriors to have more energy during fights.

Starting 1000 AD, the famous healing Avicenna, gave coffee as medicine. Ethiopians got a kind of wine from coffee fruits, by fermentation of dry beans in water. Coffee used to grow naturally in Arabic Peninsula as well and in the 11th century this was prepared as warm drink.

So-called stimulating proprieties of the coffee were considered the generators of a religious ecstasy by many in those ancient times and coffee as a drink gained a mystical reputation, surrounded by mystery and associated with priests and doctors. It is therefore not surprising that two powerful legends appeared to explain the discovery of this magic bean.

 

 

Legends of the Coffee

An apocryphal history dating from the year 1400, tells of a Yemeni shepherd, named Khaldi, who noticed his goats became restless and energetic after eating the red fruits that were growing in the unknown bushes from these lands. Amazed by their behaviors Khaldi brought fruits to a nearby monastery, where the abbot boiled them in water. He got a bitter but flavored liquid, very stimulating, that banished fatigue and sleepiness.The other story is the one of a Muslin dervish who was condemned by his enemies to wander through desert and thus starve. In his delirium, the young man heard a voice telling him to eat the fruits from a coffee tree nearby. The dervish tried to soften the fruits in water and when this failed, he simply drank that liquid. He saw his survival and energy as a sign from God, so he returned to his people to spread his faith and the recipe of his drink.

Such stories are of course unconfirmed, but there are some facts about the spread of the coffee tree, which are well documented. It seems that the origin of coffee is on the African continent, in an area of Ethiopia called “Kaffa”. From there, it spreads to Yemen, then in Arabia and Egypt. Coffee cultivation has rapidly extended in all these countries and serving coffee has become a pleasant daily habit. In the late 14th century, the societies which were practicing commerce realized the big potential coffee had and they have successfully launched it in Europe.

 

 

Coffee and the Pearl of the East

The demand for coffee in Middle East was very high and all coffee shipments which were leaving Yemen with Alexandria and Constantinople destination, were very well controlled and guarded so that no plant should leave the country. Despite all these restrictions, the Muslims during their pilgrimage to Mecca, managed to hide and take with them coffee plants and cultivated them in their countries. This is how coffee cultivation in India began.

Coffee came in Europe in those times through the Venetian port, where trades were made with Arab merchants. The drink became popular among people when the lemonade sellers included it in their offer as an alternative to cold drinks. Also, many European merchants began to drink coffee in their travels and brought this habit to Europe.

 

 

Coffee’s Long Journey back home

Phonetic similarities between the word “coffee” and its European equivalents (in Italian “caffe”, in French “caffé” and in German “kaffee” for example), have led people believe the name comes from the Ethiopian province where the coffee derives its origin from, “Kaffa”. Another theory suggested the word comes from the Arabic “quahwek” which means “stimulating”.

Around the middle of the 17th century the Dutch were dominating the naval trade and introduced cultivation of coffee on a large scale in their colonies from Indonesia, Java Islands, Sumatra, Sulawesi and Bali. The coffee reached Latin America a few centuries later when the French brought the plant from Martinique. Mid 19th century, a rare plant disease spread through the coffee plantations from South East Asia and the cultures were compromised. Therefore, Brazil became the biggest coffee producer, title it has nowadays as well.

It is interesting that, even the coffee origins from Africa, cultivation of this tree in this part of the world is relatively recent. In fact, the British were the ones who reintroduced coffee growth in Africa, right after the First World War, setting plantations in areas that provide a favorable climate and soil for tree flowering.