Previously on the blog, we’ve talked about the Mighty Arabica Bean and how it makes up almost 60% of the world’s coffee production, but we neglected to go too deep into the history of that most magnificent of crops.
First, the history of the name itself. The English word, coffee, came to fruition in 1582 using the Dutch koffie, which in turn borrowed from the Turkish kahve, from the Arabic qahwah. This Arabic word originally meant a type of wine that meant ‘to lack hunger,’ drawing on coffee’s appetite suppressing properties.
The bean and drink itself followed a circuitous path through history. The oldest credible accounts of the beverage appear in the 15th century in Yemen monasteries. That is not to say it was when it was first used of course, as the earliest mention is from the 10th century. The bean was traded from Ethiopia to Yemen where the Sufis would cultivate and be used in religious practices. With the religion, coffee drinking migrated through much of Arabia and northern Africa, finding a home. As such it became fairly entwined with Arabian thought, the preparation of coffee was written about increasingly and through those texts came to Europe in the 16th century.
While coffee drinking was frowned upon by various religious leaders for some reasons (it seemed to be an intoxicant, it was a drink used by other religions, etc.) over time all came to accept it as an enjoyable beverage possessed of many beneficial properties. England saw it pop up thanks to their trading companies, France due to a traveler of the East, Germany through the seaports.
Fun fact: In ~1730 Johann Sebastian Bach wrote a piece featuring the then new fad of coffee drinking. A young woman argues with her father stating:
“Oh! How sweet coffee does taste,
Better than a thousand kisses,
Milder than muscat wine.
Coffee, coffee, I’ve got to have it,
And if someone wants to perk me up, *
Oh, just give me a cup of coffee!)
And so, through Arabia and northern Africa, from Yemen to Asia, From England to the New World coffee has spread across the globe as one of the central drinks of man. Don’t believe us? Currently coffee is the second-most traded commodity in the entire world, second to crude oil. Now let’s get a cup.