Coffee makes up the genus Coffee of the family Rubiaceae. Arabian coffee is classified as Coffee Arabica, Robusta coffee as Coffee Canephora, and Liberian coffee as Coffee Liberica. Botanical evidence indicates that Coffee Arabica originated on the plateaus of central Ethiopia, several thousand feet above sea level.
According to the Kaldi Coffee Legend, coffee is said to have been first discovered when a goat-herd in Abysinia, while basking in the sun, observed his goats dancing on their hind legs after eating some red berries. He tasted the berries and his sleepy eyes opened. He took some to the village and everybody also liked it, as it kept them awake during their prayers.
Initially, coffee was brewed from green, unroasted beans to yield a tea-like beverage. By the late 13th century, Arabians roasted and ground coffee before brewing it. Ironically, coffee was usually brewed by Arabian men, and then drunk by Arabian women to alleviate menstrual discomforts.
Coffee cultivation was rare until the 15th and 16th centuries, when extensive planting of the trees occurred in the Yemen region of Arabia. From Yemen the use of coffee beans spread throughout the Arabian peninsula and later via the Othman Empire to Turkey.
At that time, coffee was used for it's medicinal properties and as a ritual drink. The world's first coffee shop, Kiva Han, opened in Constantinople in 1475.
The modern coffee drink was invented at the end of 15th century, when roasting and crushing the coffee beans before extracting them with hot water grew in acceptance.
Turkish people claimed coffee to be an aphrodisiac and husbands kept their wife's well supplied. If the husband refused, it was a legitimate cause for a wife to divorce!
Legend also has it that the Arabs, protective of Coffee Arabica, refused to allow fertile seeds to leave their country. Transportation of the plant out of the Moslem nations was forbidden by the government.
Around 1650 a Moslem pilgrim from India named Baba Budan snuck seeds out of Arabia. He planted his seeds in the hills in Mysore, India where they flourished.
Introduced into Europe in the early 1600's, coffeehouses quickly appeared. The Arabs used so much coffee that the Christian church denounced coffee as "the hellish black brew." But Pope Clement VIII found it so great tasting that he baptized it and made it a Christian beverage saying "coffee is so delicious it would be a pity to let the infidels have exclusive use of it."
Exactly where and when coffee was first cultivated is not known, but some authorities believe that it was grown initially in Arabia near the Red Sea around the year 675.
Other authorities say that coffee was discovered in Ethiopia around the year 900. Still others say that around the year 575, Arab traders took it to the southern tip of the Arabian peninsula, now known as Yemen, where the cultivation of coffee began.
In 1607, Captain John Smith founded the colony of Virginia at Jamestown. It's believed that he introduced coffee to North America.
The first coffeehouse opened in England in 1652. A cup of coffee sold for a penny.
Paris coffeehouses opened in 1672.
In 1675, Franz Georg Kolschitzky, a Viennese who had lived in Turkey, opened central Europe's first coffee house. He also established the habit of refining the brew by filtering out the grounds, sweetening it, and adding a dash of milk.
Coffee made its way to Austria in 1683. Franz Kulczycki opened its first Viennese coffeehouse.
Along with the increase in popularity of coffee in Europe and especially England, the Dutch began to cultivate it in their colonies during the 17th century.
In 1715, the Jesuits started coffee cultivation in Haiti.
In 1721, the first coffee house opened in Berlin.
In 1723, French naval officer, Gabriel Mathieu do Clieu, stole a seedling and transplanted it to Martinique. That cutting was the start of coffee plantations in Latin America.
Within 50 years an official survey recorded 19 million coffee trees on Martinique.
Americans revolted against King George's Tea Tax and in 1773, the Continental Congress declared coffee the official national beverage.
Coffee was taken to Hawaii in 1825.
By 1887, coffee had made its way to Tonkin, Indo-China.
In 1896, coffee was taken to Queensland, Australia.
New Guinea began cultivating coffee in the 1950's.
Espresso is a process of extracting flavor from coffee beans.
In 1901, Luigi Bezzera filed a patent for a machine that contained a boiler and four "groups".
Each group could take varying sized filters that contained the coffee grounds. Boiling water and steam were forced through the coffee and into the cup.
Desiderio Pavoni purchased Luigi Bezzera's patent in 1903 and in 1905, began manufacturing machines based on the patent.
The first espresso machine was installed in the United States in 1927 at Regio's in New York. The "La Pavoni" machine is on display there today.
In 1938, M. Cremonesi developed a piston pump that forced hot, not boiling, water through the coffee. The piston pump was quite an improvement as it eliminated the burnt taste of coffee which occurred in the Pavoni machine.
Installed at Gaggia's Coffee Bar in 1946, Achille Gaggia began manufacturing a commercial piston machine. The resulting coffee had a layer of foam or "crema".
Water taken from the fresh water supply traveled through a tube that passed through the boiler and then through the coffee.
This allowed the water to be at the optimal temperature, off the boil, filtered, and not have to stay in the boiler for a long period of time. Today, most restaurants use pump based machines.
In 1961, M. Faema launched a pump based machine. The water was forced through the coffee by an electric pump rather than a manually operated piston.
Espresso machines have had many innovations in design to produce a consistent product regardless of the operator. Early designs were based on the operator deciding when to stop the machine.
Another innovation for espresso lovers included the "fully automatic" machine that ground the beans, frothed the milk and delivered a complete cup, all with the touch of a button.
Coffee has World Wide Impact. Due to the economic importance of coffee exports, a number of Latin American countries made arrangements before World War II to allocate export quotas so that each country would be assured a certain share of the United States coffee market.
The first coffee quota agreement was arranged in 1940 and was administered by an Inter-American Coffee Board.
The idea of establishing coffee export quotas on a worldwide basis was adopted in 1962, when an International Coffee Agreement was negotiated by the United Nations.
During the 5 year period, while the agreement was in effect, 41 exporting countries and 25 importing countries acceded to its terms. The agreement was renegotiated in 1968, 1976, and in 1983.
World coffee prices plunged when participating nations failed to sign a new pact in 1989.