History of Coffee
Legend has it that in the 6th century, an Arabian goatherd called Kaldi noticed the enlivening effects of coffee cherries on his goats. The stories goes that Kaldi then went to his imam and together they boiled the coffee cherries and drank the liquid. The brew made the pair uncharacteristically alert during evening prayers, something that the imam was grateful for. The rest, as they say, is history.
Botanical evidence, however, proves that the ‘Coffea’ plant (whose seeds we call coffee beans) is indigenous to Ethiopia but was first cultivated in the Arabian Peninsula. How and why coffee made its way from Ethiopia to Arabia is lost to history. What we do know is that by the 15th century coffee was drunk across the Arab world and coffee drinking was starting to spread into Europe. Arabia kept a monopoly on coffee production by only exporting infertile, boiled beans until the 17th century when Indian and then Dutch traders got their hands on living Coffea plants.
Coffee can be grown in tropical regions often called the ‘bean belt’, located approximately 30º north and south of the equator. In the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries, as coffee cultivation spread across Central and South America, southern Asia, the Pacific islands and Africa it became apparent that variations in species and ‘varietals’, growing conditions, processing methods and roast style all imparted flavours which we can detect in our cups.