Many of us take some of the simple things in life for granted and when we question how they came to be, our brains tend to freeze up, ask for more coffee and slowly start to shut down until caffeine levels are restored to normal. Take coffee for instance, we all drink it, well over 50% of adults anyway, it gives us a boost to help get us through our day and it is something that we assume has been around forever and we don’t ever ask how it was invented. That’s a good question though; how was coffee invented and where did it come from?
Let’s take a look at the history of coffee and see the turn of events that took place and brought us one of the most popular drinks in the world.
Coffee is the second most consumed beverage in the world next to water. It's the second biggest commodity next to oil. Yes, "Coffee" simply rocks, especially the Coffee Cousins' coffee. (Had to throw in that plug. Sorry. lol).
Popular theory has it that a 9th-century sheep herder in Ethiopia had noticed that his sheep would get a strange boost of energy every time they at these wild growing red cherries. The sheep herder was intrigued by this and tried some of the “cherries” himself. The caffeine rush was new to him and, like many of us, he liked it. A lot. So much so, that the local monks scolded him for this “drug” and, until they tried it for themselves, banned what is now known as coffee.
Soon enough, villagers, travelers and even the local monks began to realize just how powerful this coffee was and began taking it so they could work longer hours, stay up later and travel farther. How did they consume it? They would wrap the beans in animal fat and pack it in their hunting and raiding packs to keep longer, of course.
It wasn’t long before other villages saw the important benefits of the coffee plant and created a monopoly over the farming of it. Arabians farmed it heavily and still consumed it in the same tradition that the Ethiopians invented. It wasn’t until 1453 that the Turks turned the coffee cherry into a consumable drink. Turkey was actually the location of the very first coffee shop; Kiva Han opened in 1475.
This is where coffee’s history becomes political. In 1511, the governor of Mecca, Khair Beg, tried to ban coffee. Since the Sultan of Arabia saw coffee as sacred and had the plants heavily guarded, Beg was killed. The Sultan wanted to keep coffee in Arabia and make his country the only source for it.
We all know how well that worked. Any time you tell someone they can’t have something, they find a way to have it anyway. A famous smuggler took some of the coffee beans and began farming them himself in Mysore, India. Even now, hundreds of years later, there are offshoots of the original plants still being farmed there.
Initially, not everyone was a fan of coffee and the church had something to say about it. They dubbed it the Devil’s Drink and banned it from their flock. This was before Pope Vincent III decided to try it. He thought it tasted so good that it would be a shame not to let his flock drink coffee and lifted the ban making coffee an official drink of his Christian flock.
This was just a brief look at how coffee came to be one of the top beverages and trade commodities in the world today. Be sure to watch for our upcoming posts which take a look at the commercialization and marketing of coffee including how it made its way to America.
More to come...