A Brief History of Coffee

The most widely-consumed beverage in the world, coffee has a long and interesting history. Coffee beans are the seeds in the center of berries picked from the Coffea plant, native to Ethiopia and Sudan in Africa, as well as Madagascar, the Comoros, Mauritius, and areas in the Indian Ocean.

The earliest recorded evidence of coffee consumption is from the 15th century in Yemen, from which it was imported from Ethiopia by Sufi Muslims. From Yemen, coffee began so spread across Egypt and then the Middle East, where it was cultivated, studied, and became widely-popular.

In the 16th century, coffee was introduced to Europe through the island of Malta off the coast of Italy, where it slowly spread up to the rest of Europe. It became much more popular after the Battle of Vienna, in which the Austrians obtained the beans from the Turks after defeating them. Following this battle, the military officer who had discovered them there opened Austria’s first coffeehouse and started the custom of adding sugar and milk.

Coffee entered England in the 16th century through trading conducted by the British and Dutch East India Trading Companies, who imported it from the region. Throughout the 16th and 17th centuries, coffee spread all across Europe, where it became very popular, prompting the opening of coffeehouses all across the continent.

In 1720, French naval officer Gabriel de Clieu brought seedlings to the Caribbean, a region where coffee grows very well due to its warm, wet climate. It quickly spread across much of Latin America, where it also grows very well.

In 1773, after the Boston Tea Party, Americans began drinking coffee instead of tea, in protest of buying British tea. Having become unpatriotic to drink tea, this preference of coffee over tea still exists in American culture today.

Today, coffee is consumed by the majority of the world and remains one of the most popular cash crops on the market. Below is a map of the countries with the highest consumption of coffee:

Europe, Brazil, and the US and Canada consume the most coffee in the world.

Today, centuries after the first coffeehouses appeared in the Middle East and Europe, coffee shops remain among the most popular places for people to get together with friends, go on dates, and do work.

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