Many colorful legends surround the origins of coffee cultivation. Some believe that coffee, as we know it was first discovered in the 3rd century, a place called “Mankira” in Kefa Ethiopia. When an Ethiopian goat herd called Kaldi noticed his herd behaving like young kids after eating some stimulating red coffee berries! The goat keeper shared his discovery with the abbot of a nearby monastery, who decided to test the power of the berry himself Mankira coffee.
He poured boiling water onto the berries he had collected and made a drink which he found helped him to stay awake during long hours of prayer. While many other legends deal with the origins of coffee, its actual discovery remains a mystery – which is hardly surprising, given that coffee’s known history dates back thousands of years.
Legends aside, we know for a fact that the first commercial cultivation was reported in Arabia in the 15th century. For a long time, trade in the precious commodity was jealously guarded, with Arab farmers making every effort to stop other countries acquiring their precious beans.
Over time, however, seed-beans and plant cuttings found their way to Aden, Egypt, Syria and Turkey, where coffee became known as the ‘wine of Arabia.’
Before long, public coffee houses were open in every city in the Near East. Soon, the first shipment of coffee beans arrived in Europe and coffee’s popularity spread like wildfire. By the end of the 17th century, coffee houses plied their busy trade across Austria, France, Germany, Holland and Britain.
The Dutch began to grow coffee in the Far East, and Britain and France followed suit, introducing coffee to their colonies. In America, coffee grew in popularity after the famous Boston Tea Party, when people revolted against the high tax King George placed on tea.
In the 18th century, missionaries, traders and colonists took coffee to Central and South America. The natural environment proved ideal for cultivating coffee, and coffee growing spread rapidly. By the late 1800s coffee had become one of the world’s major export crops, especially in developing countries.
Today, coffee is one of the world’s largest trading commodities – second only to oil. It is worth more than $12 billion dollars in trade every year, mainly between developing countries, where it is grown, and industrialized countries, where it is consumed.
The price of coffee remains highly volatile. Being an agricultural commodity, coffee suffers from sharp variations in supply as a result of changes in environmental conditions. Most of the world’s coffee crop is produced in Southern and Central America, Asia and Africa.
Coffee is the 2nd most consumed beverage worldwide, after water The United States is the biggest importer of coffee, taking around a sixth of the world’s yearly crop. However, the nation that consumes the most per capita is Finland, with the average Finn drinking around 1400 cups each year!
The modern world is full of coffee moments… We wake up with coffee, we refresh us with coffee and coffee keeps us going during the day. Coffee can be a break, a chance to relax and reflect, or to share a moment together.