Historical events that changed the way we enjoy our coffee today

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

The history of coffee is definitely an interesting one. From the story of how the coffee bean fruit may have been discovered by a goat in Ethiopia to all the different coffee products available to us in 2018, there’s a lot to learn about this delicious drink we all know and love. Today, we’ll be discovering the evolution of how coffee has been prepared throughout history.

Historical events that changed the way we enjoy our coffee today

In the very beginning (according to legend)

There is an old Ethiopian legend that tells of a goat herder noticing his livestock chewing on a red berry and becoming alert and energetic. We can’t know for sure whether this is exactly how it happened, but we do know that it did all start with the red fruit that holds the coffee bean at its centre. Back then, the story goes, it hadn’t yet been discovered that it was the bean at the centre that actually caused the effect, so people consumed the fruit with the bean inside. The most popular way people enjoyed this fruit was mixed with animal fat, which they ate as a snack. They also created a drink made from boiling the leaves of the fruit.

The first brewing method

In 1555, word (as well as usage) of the coffee plant spread from Ethiopia to Yemen and then to Istanbul where the power of the bean was unleashed. This is when people discovered the taste, aroma and true effect of brewed coffee. In Istanbul, they used an open fire to roast the beans and then ground them until they became a fine powder. After that, the roasted and ground beans were added to water, which was cooked slowly over a weak charcoal fire.

This was also an important time in history because the position of a barista was first invented, a position which was held in high regard. Although, back then, the title was “kahvecibaşı” (Chief Coffee Maker).

As the popularity of coffee grew and grew, people began to want to make their own in their homes. And so the brewing process was simplified (but remained similar) and a coffee pot called a “cezve” was created. Of course, this process still took a much longer time than it now takes you to prepare your morning coffee. Aren’t you glad for Nestlé coffee machines which prepare your coffee quickly while you barely have to do anything at all?

Sugar and milk?

Eventually, the popularity of coffee made its way to Austria. If you enjoy milk and sugar in your coffee, then you should be grateful to the Polish military officer Jerzy Franciszek Kulczycki. He was the man who opened the first bag of coffee beans to make its way to Austria and then decided that it really could use some sweetness and milk. In 1683, a coffee house was opened in Vienna due to the love of the hot beverage. It was around this time that the Viennese coffee Melange (coffee served with hot foamed milk and a glass of water) was created.

How coffee began spreading throughout the world

Until 1616, there were no living coffee bushes (or beans to be used to grow the bushes) in Europe. This meant that they could not produce their own coffee. But, finally, the Dutch Merchant Pieter van den Broecke managed to get his hands on some of the carefully watched bushes in Mocha, Yemen. He brought them home to Amsterdam with him and planted them in the botanical garden where they grew happily, producing many coffea arabica bushes for decades.  

These bushes were used by the Dutch 42 years later, in 1658, to start cultivating coffee in Sri Lanka (then known as Ceylon) and then in southern India. They eventually stopped cultivation in these areas, but only a few years later, the Dutch colonies in Asia and the Americas were the main suppliers of coffee beans in Europe. This is particularly significant to coffee lovers who want to know its history because this was how the growth and cultivation of coffee bushes started to spread to different areas of the world. Many followed in the footsteps of the Dutch and now coffee is found in different areas of the world. Today, the top coffee producing countries in the world are Guatemala, Mexico, Uganda, India, Honduras, Ethiopia, Indonesia, Colombia, Vietnam and Brazil.

These are just a few of the significant events in the history of coffee which affect the way we experience coffee today. Just imagine if coffee was only available in a few areas of the world, it would certainly cost a lot more for a cup of this hot beverage. Thankfully, coffee is readily available wherever you go and our coffee machines were created to make it quick and easy for you to enjoy this delicious beverage.