We as humans like to bring things with us when we travel. Whether its a gift for a love one, a comfort from home, or something for the journey; you will most likely find a traveller never travels empty handed.
In many cases back when hopping on a flight wasn’t an option, this was how items were exposed to new parts of the world. Things like tea, coffee, certain cloths, spices and much more all made their way into the hands of excited individuals looking forward to a new experience.
Coffee is thought to have first hitched a ride with Arab tradesmen from Ethiopia to Al-Moha, Mocha, in Yemen where it began being grown and consumed domestically.
It didn’t take long for the bean to make its way over to Constantinople where in 1475 the first coffee house opened.
By now, people were in love with the caffeine effects felt from drinking coffee and the gossip was only getting louder.
But we all know, it doesn’t take much for someone to ruin the fun.
This particular man who I would serve decaf to with no regrets, was called Khair Beg. He was the Governor of Mecca and he got a real bee in his bonnet about coffee. He felt as though its energising effects would spark a rebellion against him. So maybe banning coffee and its consumption helped him sleep at night? Who knows.
Don’t worry though, humans are humans and when we want something we find a way of getting our hands on it. The coffee bean is still on the move and finds itself in Venice (I know right, holiday of a life time!) where again its ability to increase focus and energy is brought into question.
Like an absolute legend, however, Pope Clement the VII not only declares it acceptable for consumption but he baptises it under the Christian faith.
This means that coffees popularity sky rockets and it is beginning to become a commonly enjoyed drink in western households.
By now, its the early 1600’s and the coffee bean has collected a whole load of stamps on their passport, and eventually makes its way to North America. Not only was it being consumed in a number of countries but certain countries were also beginning to open up coffee houses, Constantinople setting the trend.
This was a pretty pivotal moment in the shift in usage of coffee. It suddenly went from people buying it to drink with family and friends at home, to people then buying larger quantities to serve to the community at these new coffee houses that kept popping up.
It wasn’t until 1690 that the Dutch managed to smuggle a coffee plant out of the the port in Mocha. They used this to cultivate and transport coffee commercially: Catering to those larger demands. This was, what I would say, was the start of the green bean export business.
When we think of prominent coffee origins around the world there are a few major names that always come to mind: Ethiopia, Guatemala, Colombia, and Brazil, among others. These places are well know for their production of green beans… It wasn’t always this way.
In 1727 the Brazilian coffee industry was born and interestingly, it owes it’s success to the wife of the French Guiana’s governor who gave Lieutenant colonel Francisco Palheta a bouquet of magnificent roses. Hidden within the roses were seeds and cuttings of the coffee tree (I don’t know about you guys, buts thats a love story if I ever heard one).
We now find ourselves in the late 1700’s and although people are head over heels for a brew, tea is by far the more popular of the 2.
This is where we have to look into the Boston Tea Party, as it truly was one of the huge cultural shifts that changed the coffee industry in America, and the effects rippled round the world.
In a nutshell, the BTP was a protest that occurred due to a new imposed taxation on tea import. This infuriated the colonists as, well, they wanted their english cuppas. The protest resulted in 342 chests of tea being dumped into the harbour, and it was ultimately the first real defiance against the British rule over the colonists. It then became, almost, a patriotic duty to drink coffee.
This shift meant that coffee houses began to grow in popularity, they were used for important meeting places and political gatherings. They became an integral part of society.
As you can see, coffee spread like wildfire. But how did it go from a roughly roasted bean, to an expertly brewed Kalita wave?
Next month we go head first into the 20th century where coffee had its growth spurt. The first roasted and bagged coffee hit the market, instant coffee was invented, mass production begins, and brew methods evolve.
Until then, stay caffeinated and keep brewing.