History of Coffee
Coffee is prepared from the roasted seeds, commonly called beans, of the coffee plant.
It was first consumed in the 9th century, when it was discovered in the highlands of Ethiopia. According to legend, the effect of coffee beans on behaviour was noticed by a shepherd from Caffa Ethopia named Kaldi. He noticed that his sheep became hyperactive after eating the red “cherries” from a certain plant when they changed pastures. He tried a few himself, and was soon as overactive as his herd. The story goes on to relate that a monk happened by and scolded him for “partaking of the devil’s fruit.” However the monks soon discovered that this fruit from the shiny green plant could help them stay awake for their prayers.
From there, it spread to Egypt and Yemen, and by the 15th century had reached Persia, Turkey, and northern Africa. From the Muslim world, coffee spread to Italy, then to the rest of Europe and the Americas. Today, coffee is one of the most popular beverages in the world.
Coffee berries, which contain the coffee bean, are produced by several species of small evergreen bush of the genus Coffea. The two most commonly grown species are Coffea Canephora and Coffea Arabica. These are cultivated in Latin America, south east Asia, and Africa. Once ripe, coffee berries are picked, processed, and dried. The seeds are then roasted, undergoing several physical and chemical changes. They are roasted to various degrees, depending on the desired flavour and then ground and brewed to create coffee.
Coffee has played an important role in many societies throughout history. In Africa and Yemen, it was used in religious ceremonies. As a result, the Ethiopian Church banned its consumption until the reign of Emperor Menelik II of Ethiopia. It was banned in Ottoman Turkey in the 17th century for political reasons, and was associated with rebellious political activities in Europe.
The English word coffee first came into use in the early to mid 1600s, but early forms of the word date from the last decade of the 1500s. It comes from the Italian caffè. This, in turn, was borrowed from the Persian ghahveh, Ottoman Turkish kahveh, and the Arabic qahwa collectively. The origin of the Arabic and Persian terms is uncertain; they are either derived from the name of the Kaffa region in southern Ethiopia, where coffee was cultivated, or by a truncation of qahwat al-bûnn, meaning “wine of the bean” in Arabic.