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The History of Coffee - Who Discovered it?

The History of Coffee - Who Discovered it?

Sadie Taylor |

Legend has it that coffee was first discovered in the 9th century by Kaldi – an Ethiopian goat herder. Kaldi had noticed a change in behaviour from his goats after they had eaten berries from a Coffea arabica tree that was nearby. The energetic effect these berries had on his goats intrigued him, and so he tried them for himself. They seemed to have the same effect on him keeping him awake, Kaldi reported his findings to the abbot of the local monastery, who then made a drink using the berries. News of these new found energizing berries soon began to spread.

Despite this legend, the practice of chewing coffee beans for a stimulating effect is thought to have been around for centuries before Kaldi. Similarly, Sudanese slaves are thought to have chewed on coffee beans to help them survive their difficult voyages on trade routes.

The coffee cultivation trade then began on the Arabian Peninsula in the 14th century. It then quickly spread throughout Egypt, Syria and Turkey. Coffee was not only enjoyed in homes but also in many public coffee houses, - called qahveh khaneh. With thousands of Pilgrims visiting the holy city of Mecca each year from all over the world, knowledge of this “Wine of Araby” began to spread. 

Coffee made its way to Europe by the 17th Century, and it was becoming popular across the whole continent. Towards the end of the 18th century, coffee had become one of the world's most profitable export crops. Fast forward to today and Coffee is now the second most traded commodity in the world after crude oil, and who could even imagine a life without our morning caffeine fix?!


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