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The Origins of Coffee

Coffee is often referred to as black gold. It's roasted and drunk all over the world. But do you know the origins of coffee? Where it all began?


Coffee comes from the lush Ethiopian highlands where it was being roasted for centuries before it even made it to Europe. As the story goes, a simple goat herder discovered coffee beans when he noticed his goats had lots of energy after eating the berries of a certain tree. After reporting this to the local monastery, an abbot made a drink out of the berries and noticed that it kept him alert during long hours of prayer. The knowledge of the berries spread throughout Ethiopia before arriving on the Arabian Peninsula.


The Coffee Ceremony


To this day, Ethiopians and Eritreans perform a coffee ceremony at least once a day. People gather around the small coffee stable, either sitting on stools or the floor and watch the ceremony unfold. A woman (men don't make coffee) roasts the coffee beans on an open charcoal or wood fire. Once roasted, the beans are crushed and added to water in an earthen jug. From here the coffee is poured into tiny porcelain cups with enough room left over to add a few teaspoons of sugar. The ceremony typically lasts about two to four hours, depending on who is present. The more important the guests, the longer the ceremony lasts. Popcorn seasoned with either salt or sugar is sometimes served with the coffee. The Ethiopians and Eritreans are communal people and the coffee ceremony is meant to bring people together to laugh, talk, and drink coffee!


Coffee Reaches Arabia


The cultivation and trade of coffee began on the Arabian Peninsula, particularly Yemen beginning in the 15th century. From here, it began to be grown in Persia, Syria, Turkey, and Egypt by the 16th century. As in East Africa, coffee became a communal drink where people would listen to music together, watch performances, and engage in stimulating conversation at coffee houses. As pilgrims visited the holy city of Mecca, the news of coffee began to spread far and wide. It's next stop? Europe.


Coffee Reaches Europe


By the 17th century, European travelers began taking coffee back to Europe. Some people reacted negatively to the new drink, eyeing it with fear. However, the drink became popular across the continent even though celery condemned it in places like Venice. Soon, coffee became the morning drink in Europe to replace beer and wine. People noticed a big difference - they were alert and energized.


Coffee Reaches the New World


As coffee was spreading across Europe, it was also spreading across North America, but it wasn't until the high tax on tea made consumers make the switch to coffee as the New World's favorite drink. And they never switched back.


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