Ethiopia, long held to be the birthplace of coffee, is where we start are story. While it is widely popularized that coffee originated in the 9th century, no written evidence of this event occurred until 1671, leaving a considerable amount of time that can be filled with doubt. The earliest credible evidence of either coffee drinking or knowledge of the coffee tree appears in the middle of the fifteenth century, in the Sufi monasteries of Yemen. It was the middle east that coffee beans were roasted and brewed, very similarly to how it is now prepared. From here coffee spread all over the world, quickly taking roots in a variety of regions, and becoming a cultural and religious staple for many cultures.
|Bedouin Drinking Coffee, 1930|
In the early days of coffee there was a writer by the name of 'Abd Al-Qadir al-Jaziri that documented his experience with coffee in Egypt. In 1587, he assembled a work chronicling the history and legal controversies of coffee called "Umdat al safwa fi hill al-qahwa". Without this important document, the history of coffee as we now know it, might not exist.
Largely through the efforts of the British East India Company and the Dutch East India Company, coffee became available in England no later than the 16th century.
While it was well received by most of England, it was not without enemies. In 1675 Charles II, King of England issued a proclamation banning Coffee Houses. This may or may not have been in reaction to the public outcry against coffee, a prime example of which would be the anonymous 1674 "Women's Petition Against Coffee" which declared: “...the Excessive Use of that Newfangled, Abominable, Heathenish Liquor called COFFEE [...] has [...] Eunucht our Husbands, and Crippled our more kind Gallants, that they are become as Impotent, as Age.”
Gabriel de Clieu brought coffee seedlings to Martinique in the Caribbean circa 1720. Those sprouts flourished and 50 years later there were 18,680 coffee trees in Martinique enabling the spread of coffee cultivation to Haiti, Mexico and other islands of the Caribbean. This began the bountiful flow of coffee from some of the world's most famous agricultural regions.
The history of coffee is as diverse and complex as the cultures and peoples that made coffee a world wide sensation, and as such it would be impossible to cover it all here in a concise, mildly interesting format. I've left out quite a bit, but tried to touch on some of the more interesting and important happenings in coffee's history.