The History Of Coffee

Ah! That Aroma Early In The Morning!

I am one of those tortured souls who cannot start their day without a cup of coffee. So I thought it only appropriate that I begin my blog with an article on coffee.

So, in the spirit of beginnings, let’s talk about the beginning of this soul reviving liquid.

I mean, water may be getting all the attention for being the life-giving liquid and all but this dark drink doth give strong competition, at least if you ask a coffee addict.

Coming back to the beginning a.k.a the history of coffee, there are several stories as to how it came to take this celebratory place in human life.

It all started with a couple of Ethiopian monks and goats.

It is said that, once, when a shepherd in Ethiopia took his goats for grazing, he discovered that his goats became perky and started to ‘dance’ after eating the berries of a plant which grew only in the shade. He took the berries back to the monastery, where the head monk threw the berries into the fire in the fireplace announcing that they were the work of the devil because of the effect they produced. However, after a while, the exotic aroma of the coffee beans inside the berries getting roasted in the fireplace caught the attention of the monks who later brewed a drink out of them. And this is how coffee is said to be discovered.

In its very initial days, however, coffee was eaten and not drunk. Tribes in Africa mixed coffee berries with fat and ate them as energy balls. The Arabs were, however, the first to cultivate coffee as well as the first to begin its trade. By the 15th century, coffee was being grown in Yemen in Arabia. Then slowly it spread to Persia, Egypt, Syria and Turkey. Around that time, many coffee houses called qahveh khaneh appeared in cities across the Middle East and eventually this drink came to be known as the ‘wine of Araby’. ( I have half a mind to enter the kitchen tomorrow morning and announce that I will be drinking The Wine Of Araby!) Stories of this drink were told by the European travellers, but the main credit of popularizing it goes to the thousands of pilgrims who went to the Middle East to conduct the holy pilgrimage of Haj.

 I Followed My Heart And It Led Me To Coffee

                                                                                   – every bean head ever

In fact, coffee was introduced in India by one such pilgrim who was called Bababudan. In the 17th century, the Sufi saint, Bababudan went to Mecca for Haj. There he encountered a strange exotic dark drink. He found out that it came from a plant. He was so impressed by its taste that he wanted to bring the plant back with him and grow it in India. But it was not easy. In order to maintain their monopoly in coffee trade, the Arabs did not allow anybody to take the coffee seeds; people could only take the roasted beans. But Bababudan managed to acquire seven seeds of coffee which he hid in the folds of his robes. It is said that he left Yemen through the port of Mocha (Interesting name, eh?). After reaching home, Bababudan planted the seeds in his hometown situated in the Chikmagalur district of Karnataka and fortunately, they grew! Even today, coffee is grown in a hill range in Chikmagalur called Dattagiri, which is otherwise called Bababudangiri as a homage to the Sufi saint.

*A Liquid Hug For Your Brain*

The spread of coffee to many other popular plantations of today came about more or less in the same adventurous way. For example, coffee was introduced in Brazil by Francisco de Mello Palheta, who was sent by his emperor to the French colony of Guiana to get coffee seedlings. The French, however, did not want to share their coffee and Palheta’s request was not accepted by the French governor. However our hero was not only an adventurer but also a man of the ladies and on the day he was to leave, the seduced wife of the governor gave him a bouquet of flowers in which were hidden the coffee seeds which went on to lay the foundation of the present 2,339,630 hectares/ 27,000 sq.km large coffee estates in Brazil which have subsequently made the country the largest producer of coffee in the world.

After so many hurdles of being declared the ‘bitter invention of Satan’, overcoming Arabic monopolistic efforts and other challenges, coffee has emerged as one of the most sought-after drinks, grown in more than 50 countries and is in fact, the third most popular drink on earth after water and tea.