History of Coffee: Its Origin and How It Was Discovered

A Complete Coffee Study – Jack & Master of All Trades

Can I have a coffee?

In the US alone, over 400 million cups of coffee are consumed daily. Globally, more than a billion people consume coffee. Chances are, you’re likely to encounter a coffee shop, coffee advert, or a coffee-recharged person on a daily basis.

What’s Coffee?

What’s Coffee

The Legendary Myth – coffee!

From the grazing fields of the Ethiopian plateau, thanks to the Kaldi goat herder, the coffee crop announced itself to the world. The goats couldn’t contain their ecstasy and the herder took note. Intrigued, Kaldi reported the positive and energetic vibes to the monastery. The monk took the berries and made a drink. The coffee drink helped him stay awake longer while meditating. Word spread to other monks and coffee found its hallowed ground.

Having visited coffee farms, I can tell you of the waxy leaves and cherry-filled branches. Ripe coffee berries look red and fleshy while the unripe cherries are hard and green.

Coffees From Around the World: The Bean Belt

The coffee plant grows in mild temperatures, fertile soils, lots of rainfall (above 200 cm annually), and moderate sunlight. This explains the concentration of coffee around the Equator. Based on your knowledge of Geography, you can choose the best coffee to brighten your day.

coffees from around the world

Think of Uganda, Brazil, and Kenya and there’s a proximity to the Equator.

The Bean Belt is formed of the following regions:

  • Africa – Kenya, Uganda, Zambia, Ethiopia, Zimbabwe & Burundi
  • Arabia – Yemen
  • Islands – Puerto Rico, Jamaica, Hawaii, Australia (consumed wholly by Australians).
  • Indonesia – Sumatra, Papua Guinea & Sumatra
  • Central America – Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Costa Rica, Guatemala, El Salvador
  • Southeast Asia – Vietnam, Myanmar, Thailand

Estimates show there are 25 – 100 types of coffee species but Arabica and Robusta remain the two brands commercially consumed.

Fun fact: Despite growing in a specific region, the coffee flavor and taste vary depending on the blend of soil chemistry, altitude, and the method used in cherry processing.

History of Coffee: The Coffee Timeline

The Coffee Timeline

The Dancing Goats from Ethiopia

Perhaps the most popular legend on the origin of coffee. Kaldi, a goat herder noticed his goats dancing after consuming coffee cherries in 700 AD.

Different accounts exist on who Kaldi shared with the coffee berries but the consensus is that it was at a monastery. In a different account, it’s said the first monk disapproved of the berries and threw them in the fire. The resulting aroma became the world’s first roasted coffee.

Across the Red Sea – the Arabian Peninsula

Ethiopia remains an undisputed coffee origin.

Cultivation and trade began in the Arabian Peninsula. History indicates by the 15th century, coffee was already being grown in Yemen and spread to Persia, Egypt, Syria, and Turkey by the 16th century.

Coffee shops sprouted and christened qahveh khaneh – began to appear across cities in the Near East cities. The popularity of these coffee shops was unparalleled and they redefined the social scene. Unlike modern coffee shops which are all transactional, the coffee places of the 17th century served as theatres, musical centers, and chess playing areas. How I wish modern coffee shops borrow a thing or two from the past.

The Mecca pilgrimage played its role in spreading the word about the ‘wine of Araby’ and coffee spread its wings across the world.

History of Coffee Timeline – The Devil’s Drink

European travelers came to the Near East cities and talked about a strange dark black beverage. Some people became skeptical of coffee and dubbed it as a ‘bitter invention from Satan.’

Upon landing in Venice in 1615, the local clergy greatly disapproved of coffee. The controversy was so great to the extent Pope Clement VIII was forced to make a papal decree. He tasted the drink and the unmistakable satisfaction long associated with coffee prevailed. The devil’s drink acquired the papal approval!

Across England, Austria, Germany, and Holland, the coffee shops were spreading like a wildfire. For instance, in England ‘penny universities’ sprang out since, for a penny, one could purchase a coffee and simulate conversation.

The Coffee Mania

As coffee shops normalized, coffee gradually started replacing common breakfast beverages common at the time. Beer and wine weren’t spared from the mania as they felt energized and alert all day upon consuming coffee.

The Coffee Mania

How many need a coffee at this point? I’ll be back in a few.

The coffee office culture traces its exodus here. By the mid-17th century, London boasted hundreds of coffee shops patronized by merchants, shippers, and artists.

Some specialized businesses buttressed from the coffee business, such as the Lloyd’s of London which grew from the Edward Lloyd’s Coffee House.

Starbucks Coffee – The New World

the new world of coffee Starbucks

New Amsterdam, which the British later renamed New York sipped its first coffee drink in 1600. Ironically, unlike the coffee whirlwind witnessed across other areas, tea continued to be the preferred drink in the New World until 1773.

The Boston Tea Party

King George III imposed a punitive tax on tea and the colonists revolted by embracing coffee as the perfect substitute. Well, this forever changed Americans’ drinking patterns with coffee becoming a preference.

“Coffee – the favorite drink of the civilized world.” – Thomas Jefferson

The Royal Family and American Coffee

The coffee narrative is incomplete without a tinge of royalty. The story goes that in 1714 King Louis XIV was gifted a young coffee plant by the Mayor of Amsterdam. Under the king’s command, the plant was planted at the Royal Botanical Garden in Paris.

Gabriel de Clieu, a young naval officer, was entrusted with getting the coffee plant to Martinique. Despite facing various challenges including adverse weather conditions, pirate attacks, and attempted sabotage, the naval officer executed his duties.

Coffee Plantations

As if appreciating the efforts of the naval office, the coffee plant didn’t disappoint. It thrived in Martinique and is credited with the spread of 18 million coffee trees on the island over the next five decades. Incredibly, all coffee plants in the Caribbean, Central, and South America trace their origin from this sole coffee plant.

The Brazilian coffee should thank the good looks of Francisco de Mello Palheta, an emissary sent to French Guiana to fetch the coffee seedlings. The answer was a firm NO. The French were unwilling to share. However, the French Governor’s wife was mesmerized by the provocative looks of the emissary and gave him a bouquet of flowers. Inside, there were enough coffee seedlings to launch the now billion-dollar industry!

Ultimately, the missionaries, colonialists, and travelers continued to take the coffee seedlings to new lands. Coffee became a world phenomenon. Across the tropical forests and rugged mountain highlands, coffee trees found breeding grounds. Of course, some survived while others withered. Nations and economies rose and collapsed from coffee growth.

By the 18th century, coffee was one of the most profitable and influential export crops. Today, after crude oil, coffee is the most sought-after commodity!

Italian Luigi Bezzera – The Italian Coffee Maker

The 20th century came with great strides for the coffee industry. Italian Luigi Bezzera patented the first espresso machine for commercial use in 1901. Exactly 37 years later, coffee genius Max Morgenthaler led his team to invent Nescafe.

Italian Luigi Bezzera the italian coffee maker

That’s not the end of it.

After seven years, the Nescafe team went a step further by developing a way to make quality coffee by adding water without losing its natural flavor.


Achile Gaggia – that’s a name you should never forget whenever sipping a hot cup of coffee. He used a piston in the espresso machine to extract the coffee brew at a high pressure thus creating a soft layer of crema.

Dear readers and coffee lovers, that’s how the cappuccino came about.

Today, small and ambient coffee shops are taking over coffee space offering different terroirs and complex flavors. There are locally roasted coffee beans, fair-trade beans, and other coffee fests inventing the next chapter of this majestic crop.


The delicious Mocha, and a personal favorite, is derived from the port city of Mocha, Yemen where the coffee exports first landed in the Middle East.

Coffee Beans

The coffee beans determine the taste and flavor of your coffee.

Knowing the place of origin and understanding different types of roasts helps in making informed decisions on the final brew desired. Generally, there are two types of coffee beans: Arabica and Robusta.

Here, let’s delve into some of the coffee-growing regions and their associated output

Coffee Growing Regions and Their Output

Coffee Growing Regions and Their Output

  • 1. Ethiopian & Kenyan coffee: Ethiopian & Kenyan coffee is known for being fruity and bright and is the most sought-after in the market. The coffee also has floral notes and pleasing acidity and supports millions of households.
  • 2. Ugandan coffee: Ugandan coffee, the leading Robusta source is sweet and with floral notes.
  • 3. Yemen coffee: Yemen coffee, though available in low amounts, is spicy and is best enjoyed with lively spices such as cinnamon
  • 4. Southeast Asia and Indian coffee: Southeast Asia and Indian coffee are best described as unique, and a little inauthentic. It explains why most coffee from these places is mainly used in blending. The coffee is low on acidity and with a bold and spicy taste.

Coffee Taste and Aroma

Most of us visit chain stores such as Starbucks for our coffee. However, at some point, try to visit a coffee shop with different coffee beans as provided in the description.

These are some of the key traits to look out for to comprehend a coffee bean’s flavor and roast.

1. Body: Noticed that some coffee beans are thicker than others? Coffee is brewed in water and the full-bodied ones are dense and thick, unlike the light-bodied ones which are watery and clear.

2. Aroma: While the taste buds detect different flavors, there is a clear array of coffee aromas to choose from: earthy, smoky, flowery, and fruity.

3. Acidity: It’s what adds the kick to your morning coffee. A low-acidic coffee produces a flat and dull taste while a high acidic gives a sharp and vivid taste. Acidity is also known as ‘brightness’ in the coffee language.

4. Balance: It’s a way of producing just the right amount of coffee acidity, aroma, body, and roast. An imbalanced coffee hinges on the extremes.

5. Roast: The roasting process triggers different chemical changes covered below.

6. Finish: Refers to the taste and sensation left behind after one drinks a coffee. Depending on the balance, coffee can leave a nutty, chocolate, fruity taste.

(Pictures of coffee cups with different flavors).

The Coffee Roast – the true magic

I need a coffee, again.

What can I get you?

The coffee roast is where all the magic happens. Roast changes the coffee beans from a grassy smell to a pleasant and exquisite aroma. To explain the roasting process in simple terms, the coffee beans are heated under high temperatures until they attain peak performance and then cooled suddenly. After the end of the process, the coffee beans are crunchy and ready for grinding and brewing.

Usually, there are four roast color categories: light, medium, medium-dark and dark.

Contrary to popular opinion, a dark roast doesn’t signify a higher level of caffeine. It’s actually the light roast beans that are likely to keep you up all night. Be guided accordingly.

Roasting Coffee Beans

Various processes precede the addictive coffee sip we all can relate to. Drying, observing, exploring, and throwing around are just but some of the processes.

The outer skin and inner parchment skin are removed through processing and the inner coffee bean is dried. After drying, the coffee is now ready for roasting. The green coffee significantly changes during the drying since the tiny moist beans become bigger and drier. The natural sugars convert while others are caramelized, thus producing different flavors.

The roasting process changes the coffee beans’ aroma, color, size, and texture. The entire process consists of tossing the beans back and forth in the roasters to separate the chaff.

Result – double-sized coffee beans estimated to be 185% lighter and ready for grinding.

Coffee Brewing

If a coffee a day keeps you moving; it better be worth the honors.

Whichever coffee flavor brightens your day, ensure it’s exquisite and upholds the rich heritage of coffee. Don’t settle for less. The earlier generations didn’t brave pirates and saboteurs for less. Do better.

We shall delve into the different coffee brewing methods such as pour-over and full immersion to learn how the taste, aroma, and intensity of your daily coffee results.

All these methods make coffee enjoyable. Lovable.

Scientific Coffee Health Benefits 

Coffee is the most popular beverage in the world after water. And coffee drinking has been around for centuries, with some evidence indicating that coffee consumption may have begun as early as the 9th century.

In recent years, coffee has received a lot of attention in the scientific community with respect to its potential health effects. Some studies have suggested that coffee consumption may have a number of health benefits, while other studies have suggested that coffee consumption may be harmful.

So, what does the science say?

Overall, the evidence suggests that coffee consumption is generally safe and that it may even have some health benefits. As recent as 2022, a large prospective study found coffee consumption decreases the risk of developing heart diseases. Other health benefits include the reduced occurrence of type 2 diabetes, liver cancer, anxiety, etc.

An interesting health benefit of coffee consumption is experienced by people suffering from Parkinson’s Disease. People suffering from the disease can consume coffee since it aids in movement control. Two 8-ounce servings of coffee prevent heart failure and a 2011 study conducted by Harvard University indicated consuming four cups of coffee reduced the chances of depression by 20% among women.


Contradicting and opposing studies, though minimal, exist warning against stuffing your coffee with sugars and different flavors. It’s also advisable for special groups such as pregnant women and people with vulnerability to bone fractures to rethink their coffee consumption. For people with panic disorders, consuming large amounts of coffee triggers anxiety attacks.

You can learn about coffee health facts from our blog.

Enjoy each sip with moderation – your health matters.

Enjoy Coffee! 

From the wilderness of Ethiopia to the royal palaces and gardens, coffee continues to make its mark in the world.

The Devil’s Drink with the blessings of the Holy Father. Each time you experience the heavenly and unforgettable sip, you uphold the heritage of a drink known to build and destroy empires and kingdoms. A drink of tax defiance at the harbors of Boston to the shores of Mocha – that’s the diversity of coffee. Celebrate each day with passion and joy. Celebrate with coffee.

Latest Recipes

More Recipes Like This