The cherry of the coffee plant seems small and inconspicuous. Nevertheless, people came up with the idea of roasting, grinding, and brewing the beans it contains. Some fairy tales and many legends deal with the origin of coffee. However, we present to you the historical facts about the drink.
Coffee from Kaffa
A hot brew of roasted coffee beans was probably drunk in East Africa more than a thousand years ago. Many legends say that the drink originated in Ethiopia. Historians also assume that the region of Kaffa in southwestern Ethiopia is the drink’s area of origin.
First mentions of the drink date back to the ninth century. From Kaffa, the coffee reached Arabia already in the 14th century. The fact that coffee made its way into the world via the Yemeni trading and port city of Mocha in the Middle Ages is also considered certain. In the following decades, traders and travelers who visited mocha ensured that the drink spread worldwide.
As early as the 16th century, coffee conquered the Persian region. The drink spread rapidly in Syria and Asia Minor. When the Ottoman Empire conquered Yemen, the plant’s beans reached as far as Istanbul. The first coffee house opened there in 1554. However, centuries were to pass before coffee became popular in Europe.
First export to Europe
The Italian metropolis of Venice was a hub of European trade. The transshipment point brought all kinds of African products to Europe. The first coffee house was opened there in the 17th century. Traders brought the roasted beans to other European cities.
Soon coffee was also drunk in Vienna, Paris, and Amsterdam. In British cities such as Oxford and London, similar establishments were quickly opened. However, the drink was initially reserved for members of the European upper class.
Roasted beans, which wealthy city dwellers enjoyed as a luxurious drink, also reached Germany via the large port cities. In 1673 the first coffee house was opened in the Hanseatic city of Bremen. Similar establishments were established in many port cities in the following years.
Plantations for mass production
In the following years, European coffee houses developed into cultural meeting places, which served to exchange information and initiate business. They contributed immensely to the spread of the drink. But it was not until the 19th century that coffee became a drink for the masses.
The basis for its success was the industrial production on plantations, which were mainly established in South America. As early as 1700, the Dutch had their coffee grown in Ceylon and Java. Dutch and French plantations in Surinam, Cayenne, and Martinique followed. Around 1727 the coffee plant reached Brazil. African slaves had to take over the cultivation, who slaved away everywhere in the plantations.
At the same time, the purchasing power of the European population increased, and they could now increasingly afford coffee. The prosperity of broad strata of the working class, which spread as a result of industrialization, made exotic enjoyment possible, which was now no longer reserved for the richest sections of European society. Around 1850, coffee was considered a drink for the masses throughout Europe.
Luxury food for the masses
In the following decades, coffee developed into one of the most popular pleasures. To this day, the drink is still the most popular luxury food of the Germans. In Germany, people drink an average of 162 liters every year, which corresponds to about two cups a day. The most popular is still filter coffee.
All over the world, people live from growing, processing, and selling beans. An estimated 100 million people are expected to be involved in the production and distribution of the black gold in 2018. Workers around the world harvest around ten million tonnes of green coffee every year.
The largest producer remains Brazil, followed by Vietnam and Indonesia as the most important producing countries. The most important consumer countries are the USA and Germany. They are followed by France, Japan, and Italy.