Most historians agree that it was around the third century when the powers of Coffee first became known in Abyssinia, known today as the province of Kaffa. This is where, of course, where the name Coffee originates.
The legend of the discovery of coffee is about a goat herdsman named Kaldi. He went searching for his wandering goats late one night. He was tired and wanted to get his goats home since it was a very long day. He heard his goats jumping and making all sorts of noises somewhere in the distance. Following the sounds he found them eating on some small read berries and jumping and frolicking by a patch of shrubs. Kaldi saw that they were full of energy, and thought that it must be the berries and decided to try the strange fruits himself.
The fruit was not very flavorful but by the time you been eating several of these fruits, Kaldi realized that he no longer felt tired and that he felt so good that he was tempted to dance with the goats. He needed to get back home so he filled his pouch with the red berries and headed back home. The story goes on that he had to smacked his goats to get moving because they would not stop eating the rosy fruits.
After trying some of the berries herself, his good wife Sharon shared his enthusiasm and said that the fruits must really be a gift from God. “Tomorrow I must pick some of these more of these miracle berries and take them to the monastery”, she told Kaldi. The next day she took them to the local monastery where it is written that the monks were really inspired after they tasted the rosy berries and they became even more diligent in their prayers and devotionals and were even more eager and energetic in their daily work.
Though the coffee plant is native Ethiopian and still grows wild there today, it was the Arabian countries, principally Yemen, that started the horticultural and propagation of coffee. The Arab countries prized this new crop and prohibited that any plants be exported to keep this prize to themselves. The first known coffee shop in the world was opened in Istanbul, Turkey.
Coffee farming and cultivation was not popular until the 15th and 16th centuries, when mass planting and farming of the coffee plants began in the Yemen region of Arabia. The consumption of coffee increased in Europe during the 17th century, prompting the Dutch to cultivate it in their colonies. In 1714 the French naval officer Gabriel Mathieu de Clieu succeeded in bringing a live cutting of a coffee tree to the island of Martinique in the West Indies. This single plant was the genesis of the great coffee plantations of Latin America.
It was not until 1718, when the Dutch took plants to Surinam on the northeastern coast of South America, that coffee arrived in what quickly became the coffee center of the world. There soon followed the fist plantation in Para, Brazil in 1727. In 1730 the British introduced coffee to Jamaica, initiating the long and fascinating history of Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee.
After the Boston Tea Party, coffee was used as the replacement for tea. This political action firmly entrenched coffee into the American culture.
Gourmet coffee first became popularized in the 20th century when a hotel in Memphis began roasting and serving its own coffee beans. The popularity grew quickly for the Maxwell House hotel and they soon began to sell the beans to local stores. The Maxwell House brand soon became part of the a major food corporation which further popularized coffee drinking in America.
The Maxwell House coffee of today is not the same great coffee which made it popular and you can thank the accountants. As they tried to squeeze more profits the accountant, and you can also blame Wall Street driving this as well, started using cheaper coffee beans with less flavor. This practice was also incorporated by the other major coffee brands.
The result was coffee consumption since the 1960's has plunged as consumers became dissatisfied with how their store bought coffee tasted. Now we have come full circle as Starbucks again popularized and brought recognition on real gourmet coffee using pure Arabica gourmet coffee.