Statistics show that 2.25 billion cups of coffee are consumed every day. Have you every wondered about the history behind one of the most popular drink in the world? Why is coffee sometimes known as liquid gold? Did you know that the word “coffee” originated from the Arabic term that meant “wine of the bean.”
It’s widely accepted that the origins of coffee are found in Ethiopia around the 11th century. However, it is important to point out that the Ethiopians did not brew the bean — or seed — of the tree, they only ate the fruit, known as cherries. One common story states that a goat herder noticed that after eating the cherries, his herd became so invigorated they were not able to sleep at night. He shared his discovery was a local monastery, and the monks began brewing a drink that helped them stay awake through hours of prayer each evening.
From then on, it’s said that coffee cultivation spread to Yemen, and for centuries later, the drink was enjoyed there. By way of Mecca, Egypt and Syria, coffee arrived in Istanbul in the mid 1500s, when the Ottoman of Yemen, who was stationed there, introduced the drink to the current Sultan.
It was here, in the Ottoman’s palace, that a new way to prepare and drink coffee was discovered. They discovered that if they roasted the beans over a fire, finely ground them, and then boiled with water, the aroma of the bean was released. It’s from then that coffee started to gain popularity.
Still at this point, it was mostly just the wealthy citizens of Istanbul who drank coffee. From the Sultan’s palace, brewing and drinking of this beverage spread throughout the mansions of Istanbul, until it began to be served in coffeehouses around the city, and introduced to the general public. Before long, an entire “coffee culture” had been born and throughout Istanbul. These coffeehouses became an integral part of their social culture, where people would come together to read, play games, or discuss social issues. Visitors and merchants who traveled through Istanbul started to spread the word of Turkish coffee through Europe and the world.
Coffee’s introduction into Europe was in the early 1600s, when Venetian merchants returned to Venice, however, it wasn’t until the mid 1600s that the first coffeehouses opened there. From that first introduction into Europe in the early 1600s, coffeehouses quickly spread throughout Europe, with the first London establishment opening in 1650 in Oxford.
And it was not till 1668 when the North Americans were introduced to coffee and the first coffee house was established in New York City in 1696.
From there, we can skip ahead to the mid-19th century when coffee had become one of the most important trade commodities in the world.
So the next time you take a sip from your favourite latte, macchiato, espresso, or any other caffeinated beverage, take a moment to reflect on how far coffee has evolved. Who knows it may just enhance the flavour of your drink!