Jody Victor Gives A History of Coffee

Coffee, one of the world’s favorite beverages, has a mysterious past…

Although coffee’s origin is still unclear it is known that the history of coffee begins at least as far back as the thirteenth century. Even though there is no direct evidence, it is believed that ancient Ethiopians might have first recognized the energizing effect of the coffee bean plant. But there are legends of how coffee was discovered. On account talks about the Yemenite Sufi mystic Ghothul Akbar Nooruddin who was traveling in Ethiopia. He observed birds of unusual vitality and , upon trying the berries that the birds had been eating, experienced the same vitality.

Another story talks about a goat-herd Kaldi,  who  noticed the energizing effects when his flock nibbled on the bright red berries of a certain bush.  After chewing on the berries himself and becoming energized, he took them to a Muslim holy man in a nearby monastery.  This holy man disapproved of them and threw them into the fire. When the beans began to roast an enticing aroma filled the room. The roasted beans were quickly raked from the embers, ground up, and dissolved in hot water. And like magic – the world’s first cup of Joe! But these are only legends.

In the Sufi monasteries of the Yemen in southern Arabia about the middle of the fifteenth century, can be found the earliest solid evidence of coffee drinking and knowledge of the coffee plant. It was in Yemen that coffee beans were first roasted and brewed as they are today.  From there, coffee spread to Egypt and North Africa, and by the 16th century, it had reached the rest of the Middle East, Persia and Turkey. From the Muslim world, coffee drinking spread to Italy, then to the rest of Europe, and coffee plants were transported by the Dutch to the East Indies and to the Americas.