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.