The History of Coffee

Well, there. Was the “Bob’s Red Mill” detour all that bad? I say that as I hop back into our car, and we continue our investigative journey into the world of coffee. Today we are going to hear about the history of coffee. I never miss an opportunity to educate you about food history. It helps us appreciate how it came into being.

You, dear reader, will astound your friends and family with the knowledge that you impart. Tea drinkers, I will get to your side of things later in the year. Stay tuned. I am about to give a “tip of the hat” to the tea realm, and if you yawn, you are going to miss it!

Coffea berries

Image by Pexels from Pixabay

Where coffee got its start is a bit of a mystery. Kaldi, the goat herder, discovered coffee in the central highlands of Ethiopia. He observed the goats stayed up all night after eating the cranberry-looking coffea berries. I am sure the 60s crowd is enjoying this type of experimentation.

I imagine Kaldi was a bit irritated with his goats roaming the highlands when Kaldi wanted to sleep. All “kidding” aside (see how I snuck that in there?), Kaldi decided to eat the cranberry-looking fruit and discovered that it kept him alert and awake as well.

As legend has it, Kaldi took it to a local Catholic abbot (a title given to someone who oversees 12 monks) , and he tried it. The little cranberry-like fruit kept the abbot awake during evening prayers. From there, it spread over Northeast Africa and to the Arabian Peninsula.

Next to your mother, coffee rules the world

Image by StockSnap from Pixabay

Once it hit the Arabian Peninsula (the mecca of international trade in medieval times), it spread like wildfire to Europe. Once it hit Europe, coffee became one of the world’s most traded bean and second hottest commodities- E V E R!

Oil is still the world’s number one traded commodity.

Coffee has huge economic power as well as political power. As I write this article, we have the possible makings of WWIII. Perhaps, we need to cut off coffee to a certain somebody? Hmm. We’ll just quietly put a pin in that thought. Back to coffee!

Coffee began as a TEA!

Image by congerdesign from Pixabay

WHAT!? See? Didn’t I deliver a tea “In your face coffee” slam dunk!? I hope the tea people were awake for that one. If not, I would humbly suggest you, ahem… drink some real caffeine; COFFEE! BOOM! Yas! I just could not resist.

In coffee’s infant stages, coffee beans were eaten. Then someone began boiling the fruit as a tea. Moving forward, people began to ferment (yes, beer/wine folks and fermentologists, this is your time to shine as well) the pulp of the fruit to make a coffee wine. Who knew!?

Finally, in the 13th century, someone decided to roast the coffea bean, and as they say, “The rest is history.”

The Dutch Empire

Image by Gerrit Horstman from Pixabay

When I say “Dutch Empire”, I hope that doesn’t conjure up a picture of Darth Vader in wooden shoes. Stomping his way to Indonesia claiming a stake for the Dutch. It is important to note, the Dutch Empire became impressively wealthy and successful with the planting of the coffee bean in its Indonesian colonies, and notably on the Island of Java.

I’ve enclosed a fun little link for you to look up some more information on Java here, https://study.com/academy/lesson/history-of-coffee-facts-timeline.html.

Also of interest, the Dutch were the first to give coffee a name; koffie. My father’s childhood neighbors were from the Netherlands, and he often would hear the husband and wife bickering about the constant talk about “koffie”. “Koffie, koffie, koffie!”, the wife would say. “Steef koffie in da cup”. Sorry for the phonetic spelling, as I know not whether it was Fries or Dutch. Hopefully, you got the gist of what the wife meant; the husband thought of coffee all the time. It was stuck in his head.

Not to be outdone… Europe coffee explosion

The Dutch Empire had great success, but that did not leave the rest of Europe out. We are going to have to stop the coffee adventure right here!

Till next time. Here is to good food, great coffee, and meaningful conversations with friends.

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