"The State of The World" Number 21
Complete Index Of All Issues
The History Of Coffee
Coffee has become one of the most-popular brewed beverages in countries all around the world. Its use knows very few boundaries from geography, nationality, politics or religion. Billions of cups of coffee are consumed each day. Millions of people are involved in the business of producing, processing, shipping and marketing of coffee (see also What Really Happens In A Trade War?).
Coffee is made from roasted seeds, commonly referred to as "beans," of the Coffea plant. While the plant, which can grow to a height of over 4 meters / 12 feet if left unpruned, is native to tropical Africa, it is today commercially grown in more than 60 countries around the world, primarily in the equatorial regions of Africa, South America and Asia.
Coffee has been consumed for many centuries, primarily for the positive stimulating effects, in moderate usage, of its caffeine content.
No record has been found that documents with certainty the time and origin of its first use (there were likely numerous "first uses" in many places where the plants grew naturally), however one popular legend from about 750 AD involved an Ethiopian goat herder who noticed that his goats became more energetic after consuming the red berries of the coffee plant. He then tried some himself, found it enjoyable, and then shared his discovery with others.
Later accounts become more substantial. There is a record from 15th century Arabia when coffee seeds / beans were roasted and brewed for uses that included remaining awake during lengthy religious rites. Their preparation of the drink was very much like the process of today (minus the modern coffee-making gadgetry that itself has become a major industry). That Arabica variety of coffee also remains well-known in the present age.
Although coffee is most-likely to be produced primarily as a beverage for a very long time to come, research continues for other commercial uses, including applications in gardening, cosmetics and pharmaceuticals.