How coffee became a morning staple and the beverage it is today?

How coffee became a morning staple and the beverage it is today?

Introduction

The coffee we use comes from coffee cherries borne on medium sized trees. They are actually the roasted and processed seeds of these cherries.

But, how did coffee become the beverage we all know of today?

Where it all began

Although there are various versions of this infamous legend, they all converge along the same lines.

So the legend goes:

In the backdrop of the forests on the Ethiopian plateau, Kaldi, a goat herder noticed that his goats were particularly energetic after eating fruits of a certain tree.

 

They were brimming with so much energy that they did not want to sleep at night.

A puzzled Kaldi reported the incident to a monk in a nearby monastery who was not too excited about the discovery. It was said that he threw the cherries to a fire after which a lovely aroma filled the room.

Can you imagine the look on their faces?

The lovely smell attracted more monks to the room and soon enough they brewed the first cup of coffee by mixing the crushed beans in warm water.  The news of the magic beans was spread around to other monks.

But, Kaldi’s discovery was only the tip of the iceberg to the global sensation coffee would become today.

Just as nothing exciting can be kept a secret forever, the same goes for the black beans.

At a new doorstep

Soon after, coffee reached the doorstep of the Arabian Peninsula. There, the Arabs created a drink from the beans called qahev which translates to wine in Arabic. 

It did not take long before many public coffee houses or qahev khaneh sprang up.

 

These places became centres of social gathering. They gathered people from different backgrounds and became a playing field of social activities and intellectual exchange. 

They were also dubbed as “Schools for the Wise.”

The next stop

The next stop was Europe.

In the 17th century, the black beans caused quite a stir in the English land. Suspicions arose over the mysterious black drink leading some people to call it, “bitter invention of Satan.”

Now, I cannot lie, this nickname comes off a little bizarre to me, but hey I can understand how the craze for this new drink could cause a raised eyebrow.

Despite all the negative and dubious buzz around coffee, many coffee houses set roots in England, Austria, France amongst other countries in the European continent. 

Termed as “penny universities” because of their cost per cup and the intellectual conversations they entertained, these houses continued to be places of social activities and conversation starters.

Credit- https://benjaminschwarz.org/2012/04/01/night-owls-plus-the-greatness-of-that-great-white-dominion-new-zealand/

Some historians also went as much as to say that some revolutions started in coffee houses.

Funny enough, the saga of coffee as a morning staple began in the land of tea lovers.

By this time, coffee has replaced beer and wine, which were the choices for breakfast beverages at the time.

The coffee world tour

Through the following years, coffee continued its world tour and started setting roots in many countries.

Back then seeds were extremely precious, mind you they still are to this day. People were not all that keen to give them out or to openly buy and sell them especially, if they were of noble origin and had great potential economically.

So, what would they do if they wanted such seeds?

Well, the seeds would be sneakily taken and carried by travellers, missionaries, traders and colonists to their homelands where they would try their luck with the seeds.

Through the years, coffee voyaged across continents and countries including Egypt, Syria, Holland and Brazil.

But one country played a significant role in making coffee the drink it is today.

The land of the brave, America

Initially, coffee came to America for plantation and not consumption. But, the humid climatic conditions of South America provided the perfect grounds for coffee to thrive.  Going back through the pages of History,

  • Boston Tea Party

The event of the Boston Tea Party in 1773 was the catalyst for widespread coffee consumption in North America. Tonnes and tonnes of British tea was dumped into the Boston Harbour.

But what were the circumstances that led to this event?

Many Americans were upset with the taxation of the British Parliament on basic supplies like paper, paints, glass, lead and tea followed by an unfortunate massacre that killed five Americans in the hands of British soldiers and gave way to the “Boston Tea Party.” In the times that followed, drinking tea in America was considered as unpatriotic.

But, the speed with which coffee has established itself as a staple beverage owes to the advancement of technology.

  • New inventions

The 20th century saw the invention of vacuum pack machines which allowed for easy transportation of coffee beans from coast to coast. Next, followed the creation of instant coffee, espresso machine and decaf coffee.

  • Coffee, in our minds

It comes with no surprise that when we hear the word coffee, the instant picture that comes to mind is the Starbucks sign in all its glory.

Or a red picture of a Cafe Coffee Day sign enticing you for more.

What was your recent coffee order? Let us know in the comments section.

Despite setting roots in so many countries, the United States emerged as the international giant of coffee.

The entire scenario of coffee consumption changed when Starbucks came into the picture.

Coffee consumption caught on as a trend.

You might also want to check on some coffee lover's merchandise if coffee is all over your mind! ;)

  • Coffee as a morning drink

Coffee has become a morning booster due to its stimulating effects on our nervous system. Coffee contains caffeine which acts as a mild central nervous stimulant. In seeds, caffeine is present in the form of chlorogenic acid; a less potent form of caffeine . Besides, caffeine coffee also contains tannins and oils amongst other chemicals. Coffee is also widely consumed for its antioxidative nature.

One quote goes so far as to say, “I don't drink coffee to wake up, I wake up to drink coffee.”

However, drinking coffee first thing in the morning is not the best idea as it heightens the cortisol level in the body - the hormone that keeps us alert and awake. Its level naturally  increases as a person wakes up. As a counter reaction, this can induce caffeine tolerance.

So, when is it a good time to drink coffee? It would be better to drink coffee an hour or so after waking up.

Despite the negative connotations around it, research has proven that coffee causes no harm when taken with a dose of common sense. This can be translated as, any amount within 400 mg or of caffeine or four cups of coffee a day will hail a green light in healthy adults.

  • Coffee craze

To no surprise, as the coffee craze increased, many other coffee chains, just like in the pages of history, sprang up around the world combining ancient methods with new technology to give a new touch to the coffee experience.

  • Coffee has officially swept the world

Today, coffee has become an experience, a fond memory, a necessity, an energy boost and a warm or cold companion. From the different flavours to the different origins, coffee has established itself as a staple in every space.

Conclusion

The journey from the forests of the Ethiopian plateau has found its way to the hearts and routines of billions of people and established itself as a 465 billion dollar industry.

Our thanks goes to Kaldi and his furry companions, who are the OG of the coffee we have all fallen in love with.

We hope you enjoyed this trip down the history of coffee and how it has become the beverage it is today.

Share your thoughts with us and let's take conversations ahead over a cup of coffee. 

References

ABOUT OUR STAR AUTHOR

Oracle Wahlang -  is a Botanist by major and a curious learner by nature.  She is a self-labeled introvert who enjoys learning new things and having discussions with friends. She enjoys reading, sketching, painting, and yes, researching. 

She also sometimes like to think that she clicks good photographs. 😉

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