History and Origin of Coffee: From Goat Herders to Baristas, The Surprising Story Behind Your Cup of Joe

History and origin of coffee: Do you love coffee’s rich aroma and flavor in the morning? Have you ever wondered about the origins and history of this beloved beverage? Coffee has a fascinating story that spans centuries and continents. From its discovery in Ethiopia to its spread throughout the Middle East, Europe, and the Americas, coffee has played a significant role in human culture and commerce.

Key Takeaways from History and origin of coffee

– Coffee has a fascinating history that spans centuries and continents.
– Legend says that a goat herder named Kaldi first discovered coffee in Ethiopia.
– Coffee has played a significant role in human culture and commerce and is now a multi-billion dollar industry.

History and origin of coffee: The Discovery of Coffee

Coffee has a rich and fascinating history that dates back centuries. One of the most exciting parts of this history is the discovery of coffee. In this section, you’ll learn about the History and origin of coffee with different legends and stories surrounding the discovery of coffee, including the Ethiopian legend, the goat herder and red berries story, and Baba Budan’s journey.

Ethiopian Legend

History and origin of coffee:
Image Credit: Adapted from an illustration in William H. Ukers, All About Coffee. Credited by Ukers as a “drawing by a modern French artist.”

According to one of the most famous legends, coffee was first discovered in Ethiopia. The story goes that a young Ethiopian shepherd named Kaldi noticed that his goats became very energetic after eating berries from a particular plant. Curious, Kaldi decided to try the berries himself and discovered that they had a similar effect on him.

Goat Herder and Red Berries – The Origin of Coffee

Another famous story about the discovery of coffee involves a goat herder and some red berries. In this story, a goat herder named Omar noticed that his goats became lively after eating red berries from a nearby bush. Intrigued, Omar decided to try the berries himself and found that they gave him energy.

Baba Budan’s Journey

Baba Budan’s journey is another exciting tale about the discovery of coffee. According to this story, a Sufi named Baba Budan smuggled seven coffee beans from Mecca to India in the 17th century. He planted these beans in the hills of Mysore, and they grew into the first coffee plants in India.

Overall, the discovery of coffee is a fascinating part of its history. Whether it was discovered by an Ethiopian shepherd, a goat herder, or a Sufi named Baba Budan, there’s no denying that coffee has had a profound impact on the world.

History and origin of coffee: Coffee in the Middle East

Coffee has a rich history in the Middle East, dating back centuries. The region is known for its strong coffee culture, where coffee is more than just a drink; it’s a way of life. In this section, we will explore the origins and history of coffee in the Middle East, focusing on Yemen, Mecca, and Persia.

Coffee in Yemen

Coffee in Yemen
Image Credit: http://www.news.cn/english

The First Brewed Cup of Coffee in the World

The earliest credible evidence of coffee-drinking as the modern beverage appears in modern-day Yemen in southern Arabia in the middle of the 15th century in Sufi shrines, where coffee seeds were first roasted and brewed in a manner similar to how it is now prepared for drinking.


Yemen is widely considered to be the birthplace of coffee. Legend has it that a goat herder named Kaldi discovered coffee in Ethiopia in the 9th century. He noticed that his goats became more energetic after eating the berries from a particular tree. He brought the berries to a nearby monastery. The monks found the bitter taste of the beans unpleasant and threw them into the fire. But as the beans heated up, they released an enticing aroma. This tempting smell prompted the monks to rake the beans from the fire, grind them into a powder, and mix the powder with hot water to create an early version of our beloved brewed coffee. From these humble beginnings, coffee’s journey to worldwide popularity began.

Coffee became an essential part of Yemeni culture, with coffee houses, known as Qahveh Khaneh, becoming popular meeting places for socializing and discussing politics. Yemeni coffee was highly prized, and the country became the world’s leading coffee exporter in the 17th century.

Coffee in Mecca

Mecca, the birthplace of Islam, played a significant role in the spread of coffee throughout the Muslim world. In the 16th century, coffee was introduced to Mecca, quickly becoming popular among pilgrims visiting the holy city. Coffee houses sprang up around the city, providing a place for pilgrims to rest and socialize.

The popularity of coffee in Mecca led to its spread throughout the Muslim world, as pilgrims returning home brought the drink with them. By the 17th century, coffee had become an integral part of Muslim culture, with coffee houses as essential gathering places for socializing and discussing politics.

Coffee in Persia

Persia, now known as Iran, has a long history with coffee. The drink was introduced to the country in the 16th century and quickly became popular. Persian coffee houses, known as Qahveh Khaneh, were similar to those in Yemen and Mecca, providing a place for socializing and discussing politics.

Persian coffee is typically brewed strong and served in small cups. It is often flavored with cardamom, a popular spice in Persian cuisine. Today, coffee remains an essential part of Persian culture, with coffee houses continuing to serve as important gathering places for socializing and discussing current events.

Overall, coffee has played a significant role in the history and culture of the Middle East. From its origins in Yemen to its spread throughout the Muslim world, coffee has become integral to the region’s social fabric. Whether enjoyed in a Qahveh Khaneh or at home, coffee remains a beloved drink in the Middle East.

History and origin of coffee: Coffee in Europe

Coffee made its way to Europe in the 16th and 17th centuries, quickly becoming a popular drink in many countries. In this section, we will explore the history of coffee in Italy, England, and Germany.

Coffee in Italy

Coffee in Italy
Image Credit: https://www.maxpixel.net/Restaurant-Old-Italy-Rome-Italian-Cafe-Roma-1968149

Italy played a significant role in bringing coffee to Europe and popularizing it as a social beverage. Coffee first arrived in Venice in the 16th century through trade with the Ottoman Empire. At first, the Catholic Church tried to ban coffee for its stimulant properties. But Pope Clement VIII was encouraged to try it and soon declared it a “Christian” beverage, paving the way for coffee’s rise across Italy.

The first European coffeehouse opened in Venice in 1645, allowing patrons to enjoy an exotic new drink in a social setting. Espresso as we know it was invented in 1884 by Angelo Moriondo‘s innovative steam-driven coffee machine. By the early 1900s, ornate espresso bars were ubiquitous in Italian cities. Italians perfected the rich, intense espresso roast and created drinks like cappuccino that would influence coffee culture worldwide.

History and origin of coffee: Coffee in England

Coffee in England
Berlin 2015

Coffee was introduced to England in the 16th century by merchants who traded with the Ottoman Empire. The first coffeehouse was opened in Oxford in 1650 by a Jewish man named Jacob. Soon coffeehouses were thriving in London as well, becoming popular gathering spots. By 1663 there were over 80 coffeehouses in London, now dubbed “Penny Universities,” as patrons could pay a penny to enter and engage in conversation and debate.

The London coffeehouses attracted intellectuals and businesspeople alike. Insurance companies like Lloyd’s of London began as coffeehouse ventures. Tea eventually overtook coffee as England’s hot beverage by the 18th century. But coffeehouses remained integral English social institutions, with their legacy lasting even until today.

History and origin of coffee: Coffee in Germany

Coffee arrived in Germany in the 17th century, and coffeehouses began appearing in German cities soon after. Hamburg opened its first coffeehouse in 1677, and coffee quickly spread to other major cities like Berlin, Munich, and Cologne. German coffee culture was inspired by the Ottoman Empire, with Germany later developing strong trade ties that supplied it with quality coffee beans.

Coffeehouses in Germany, known as “Kaffeehäuser,” became hubs of social and intellectual life. Poets, writers, and revolutionaries would gather to drink coffee, read newspapers, and debate politics. The coffeehouse culture of 18th-century Germany is considered formative of the Age of Enlightenment.

History and origin of coffee: Coffee in the Americas

Coffee first reached the Americas in the early 18th century as European colonies like Brazil and islands in the Caribbean began cultivating coffee plantations. Brazil became the world’s largest coffee producer, supplying nearly a third of the world’s coffee today.

The coffee trade was an essential economic driver in the Americas. Demand for coffee labor fueled the slave trade from Africa. Later waves of immigrants worked on bustling coffee plantations. The ports of Latin America exported the distinct coffee varieties that became known as “Colombian,” “Brazilian,” “Costa Rican,” etc.

In North America, coffeehouses inspired revolutionary thought. The Boston Tea Party occurred at the Green Dragon coffeehouse as the Founding Fathers gathered in coffeehouses to discuss freedom from British rule and helped popularize Coffee In The US. Today, coffee remains ingrained in American culture as a morning ritual and social lubricant.

Coffee in Brazil

Coffee production in Brazil
Image Source: Statista.com

Brazil is the world’s largest coffee producer and exporter. Coffee arrived in Brazil in the 18th century when the Portuguese brought coffee trees from French Guiana. Brazil’s tropical climate and rich soil proved excellent for cultivating coffee. By the mid-1800s, Brazil dominated the international coffee market.

Coffee production fueled Brazil’s economy. Vast coffee plantations depended on slave labor imported from Africa. When slavery was abolished in Brazil in 1888, waves of immigrants were brought to work the coffee fields. The Brazilian government actively supported the coffee industry with policies, subsidies, and technology.

Brazil pioneered innovations that revolutionized coffee harvesting and processing. The mechanized stripping of coffee beans reduced labor needs. Freeze drying and vacuum packing enabled long-distance transport. Brazil’s success has made it central to the global coffee industry for over 200 years. The country remains devoted to the crop that helped form its national identity.

Coffee in the Caribbean

The Caribbean established coffee as a major cash crop and popular beverage. Coffee arrived in the Caribbean in the early 18th century as the French began cultivating coffee plantations on islands like Martinique and Haiti. The climate was well-suited for growing coffee trees.

Soon small island farmers began producing a uniquely flavored, more mellow coffee bean that thrived in the moist soil and tropical climate. The Caribbean islands became colonial exporters of coffee bound for Europe, with dockworkers loading sacks of beans from plantations worked by African slaves.

Later, immigrant laborers from India and China were brought to the Caribbean to toil on Britain’s large coffee plantations. The distinctive coffee bean cultivated in the Caribbean came to be prized by coffee connoisseurs for its smooth, mild taste and aromatic qualities. The legacy of Caribbean coffee production continues to impact world coffee culture today.

Coffee in the United States

Coffee in the United States

Coffee arrived in the American colonies in 1668 and soon became popular at inns and coffeehouses. “Green Dragon”, the first coffeehouse opened in Boston in 1676. Coffee grew more widespread after the Boston Tea Party made drinking tea unfashionable.

Coffee farming spread across the Americas as plantations opened in South and Central America. The milder beans they produced helped popularize coffee in the U.S. The California Gold Rush and advances in home brewing methods boosted coffee consumption.

Early brands like Folgers, Hills Bros, and Maxwell House drove coffee’s commercial success. The rise of coffee shops like Starbucks and Seattle’s grunge scene cemented the U.S. as a nation of coffee lovers. Today the U.S. spends more on coffee than any other nation while remaining one of the largest importers of green coffee beans. Coffee’s rich history helped fuel American innovation and productivity.

Top 10 Coffee Producing Countries in 2022

In 2022, several countries excelled in coffee production, each contributing significantly to the global coffee supply chain. The 10 top coffee-producing countries were situated in various regions worldwide, leveraging their unique climates and geographical advantages to cultivate various coffee beans.

The table below outlines the top coffee-producing countries in 2022 by their approximate production in millions of 60kg bags:

RankCountryProduction (in million 60kg bags)

Brazil maintained its position as the largest producer, providing a significant portion of the world’s coffee. Vietnam, the second-largest producer, was followed by Colombia, Indonesia, and Ethiopia, each with substantial contributions to global production. Honduras, India, Uganda, Mexico, and Peru also played crucial roles, demonstrating the widespread demand and love for this beloved beverage.

Frequently Asked Questions

Who first created coffee?

The exact origin of coffee is unclear, but it is believed to have been discovered in Ethiopia. According to legend, a goat herder named Kaldi noticed that his goats became more energetic after eating the berries from a certain plant. He tried the berries himself and felt more alert and awake. This plant was eventually identified as the coffee plant.

When did humans start drinking coffee?

The first recorded consumption of coffee was in the 15th century in Yemen. It was initially consumed for its medicinal properties and was used to help with digestion and as a stimulant.

What was the first civilization to have coffee?

The Yemeni people in the Arabian Peninsula were the first civilization to cultivate coffee. Coffee was initially known as “Qahwa” in Arabic, which means “that which prevents sleep.” It was a popular drink in the Arab world and was eventually introduced to Europe in the 16th century.

What are some interesting facts about the history of coffee?

  • Coffee was initially banned in Mecca in the 16th century because it was believed to stimulate radical thinking.
  • The first coffeehouse opened in Constantinople in 1475 and quickly became a popular meeting place for intellectuals.
  • Coffee was introduced to America in the mid-17th century and quickly became a popular drink, leading to the establishment of coffeehouses in major cities.

How did coffee spread throughout the world?

Coffee was initially spread throughout the world by the Arab traders who brought it to the Middle East, North Africa, and Europe. It was then brought to the Americas by European colonizers, becoming a major crop in Brazil and Colombia. Today, coffee is one of the most popular beverages in the world and is enjoyed by people of all cultures and backgrounds.