Millions of people around the world drink coffee every day, but few stop to think about how it was discovered or the ways it has evolved over the years. The history of coffee includes a number of developments that have made it one of the best-loved beverages by people everywhere.

Legends Concerning Discovery

The history of coffee dates to the 13th Century, where there are a number of legends concerning its discovery. One involves a Yemenite mystic, who reportedly observed birds that seemed to exhibit unusual energy and vitality after consuming coffee beans. Another attributes the discovery to a goat herder who tried it after observing goats eating coffee berries, and then being unable to sleep at night. Another claims that Omar once chewed the berries himself, finding them to be bitter despite giving him added energy. He allegedly then roasted and boiled them to produce a dark liquid, which he then drank and began sharing with others.

Coffee Spreads

By the 15th Century, coffee had spread to the Arab world, and was widely used in the monasteries there. Infact, coffee played an important role in religion during the years following its discovery, as it was often used to keep people awake during their evening prayers. By the 16th Century, it had spread to Syria, Turkey, Persia, and much of Europe, and began being used for purposes that were not necessarily religious in nature.

Spread to Austria

After the Battle of Vienna in 1683, the first coffeehouse in Austria was opened when soldiers who participated in that battle used some of the supplies they had taken as spoils to make it. The opening of the first coffeehouse there was a ceremonial affair, with the officer who received the beans being the one to officially open it. He is also credited with being the first to begin using milk and sugar in coffee. That custom became so popular that a beverage made with hot foaming milk, coffee, and water was eventually developed.

Coffee in the Americas

Records concerning the history of coffee indicate that it was first introduced in the Caribbean by Gabriel de Clieu, who brought seedlings to Martinique in 1720. That eventually led to more than 18,000 coffee trees producing beans just a half-century later. Once so many trees had been established, seedlings then began being transported to Haiti, the Dominican Republic and Mexico. In Latin America, coffee plantations flourished, leading to an increase in slave labour and an eventual revolt known as the Haitian Revolution. After the Boston Tea Party in 1773, patriots in what would eventually become the United States were encouraged to drink coffee rather than tea out of rebellion to England’s king.

The history of coffee continues to be written, as new varieties of beans and various methods of brewing them are continuously being discovered. Production and trading of coffee beans continues to play a vital role in the economy of several nations, as drinking coffee has become commonplace in many areas of the world.