Thursday, February 7, 2008

The Story of Coffee

Have you ever wondered how the secret of coffee was discovered and just how it became popular all over the world?

The discovery of coffee
It is not known exactly when the first person discovered the effects of the coffee plant and brewed a drink from the berries, but there are two stories about the origins of coffee. The first comes from an Arabian doctor called Rhazes, who mentions it as a medicine from about 900 BC. The second story is about an Ethiopian goatherd named Kaldi (around 300 AD). Different versions of both stories are told but the basic story remains the same.

The story of coffee

The legend of Kaldi

The legend tells the story of Kaldi the goatherd, who lived in Ethiopia about 300 AD. He noticed that after the goats had been eating red berries from a tree, they were lively and energetic until late in the evening. He tried the red berries himself and experienced the same effect. He mentioned this to the monks in the nearby monastery, who from then on took the berries to stay awake during the nightly prayer gatherings. By chance they discovered that the beans could be roasted and that a beverage prepared from the roasted beans not only produced the same effect, but also tasted far better. The coffee beans and the beverage made from them, were from then on regarded as a luxurious stimulant.

Coffee spreads around the world
The first systematic cultivation of coffee began in the terraced gardens of the Yemen, and with help of the Islamic pilgrims going to Mecca and Medina the use of coffee spread to the Near East. Later the cultivation spread to Arabia and Egypt, where drinking coffee (or "Kahweh") soon became a daily habit.

From the early 17th Century coffee become known in Europe and its popularity grew very quickly. Coffee houses sprang up everywhere, especially in Italy, Great Britain, the Netherlands, France and Germany. Early in the 18th century, the Dutch spread the cultivation of coffee to Indonesia; the French took some plants to Martinique while the Spanish started plantations in the Caribbean, Central America and Brazil.

It was in 1753 that the story of Douwe Egberts begins.

Coffee today
Brazil is the world's largest coffee producer, followed by Vietnam, Colombia and Indonesia. Many other countries produce coffee but they have a smaller output.

So who drinks it? Well, many of us drink coffee, from North to South, from East to West, from morning till night. We have many recipes and many rituals, and everyone knows coffee! More than 20 million people world wide are estimated to work in the coffee- industry or related businesses.

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