Coffee - Its Discovery, Evolution & Historical BackgroundCoffee - Its Discovery, Evolution & Historical Background

Somebody once said "A morning without coffee is like sleep" which is so true.Imagine a morning when you wake up to the exotic smell of the freshly brewed coffee!! Isn't it the most rejuvenating feeling and a perfect start of a new day? This is exactly how the magic of the coffee or kaapee (as it is pronounced in South India) is.

This mystical bean is supposed to have originated in a country called Ethiopia and then Yemen in Arabia, way back in the 6th century.It is said that a shepherd called Kaldi noticed a significant change in the behavior of his goats.They seemed to be more energetic and would not sleep even in the nights.On closer inspection, he observed that this was happening due to the consumption of a bright red cherry by the animals.He himself then went ahead and tasted the fruit.He could also feel the same thing happening to him.This was the discovery of the coffee bean, which went on to become the most consumed beverage across the length and breadth of the globe.

The shepherd reportedly told some monks about this wonderful fruit that he had found.The monks in the monastery then went on to brew the seeds which helped them in staying awake for longer stretches.In due course of time, the aroma of coffee spread to the Arab world through the slave trade.It reached Yemen and was deeply appreciated by the Sufi clerics in the country.The first planned coffee cultivation was done in Yemen in the 1300s.

From the 13th to the 15th century, large number of coffee houses sprang up in the city of Mecca and became destinations for people to gather and discuss their day to day affairs over a cup of coffee.Arabia reigned supreme in coffee cultivation for several centuries and exported only the roasted beans to countries with which it had trade links.

But in the 16th century, coffee travelled to India and then later on, the Dutch got hold of it and started its plantation in their South-East Asian colonies.This also resulted in the direct accessibility of coffee in the European part of the globe. There was some resistance to this Muslim drink but later on it was widely accepted.The coffee then progressed on to the North America during the colonization era.Here too it got a lukewarm response as the beverages with alcoholic content were in greater demand.But during the Revolutionary War, the demand for coffee increased as tea was in short supply.This gave a major boost to the coffee industry which continued throughout the American Civil War.

This quickly spread to the South American countries and in 1822 Brazil cleared huge tracts of rainforests for coffee plantation.This was followed by many countries in the Central Americas in the latter half of the 19th century.Today Brazil is the leading producer and exporter of coffee in the world followed by Vietnam and Columbia.

Thus, the small bean which started out in the graze lands of Ethiopia has travelled almost the whole world.It has assumed different forms in different lands and has also taken different names.The importance and scope of this very rejuvenating beverage is clear from the quote "Espresso is to Italy, what champagne is to France".

So take a cuppa and enjoy the scintillating aroma of this exotic drink called the COFFEE!!
by David H. Urmann
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