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Raw Coffee Beans Throughout History

The first recorded use of coffee as a beverage goes back to the ninth century in highland Ethiopia. According to the legend, a shepherd named Kaldi in Ethiopia noticed that his goats seemed to dance about and to have a higher energy level after eating bright red berries from the coffee plant. Coffee use soon spread to Egypt, Yemen, and Arabia where raw coffee beans were processed by being roasted and then brewed into a beverage. By the fifteenth century coffee drinking had spread throughout the Middle East and into Turkey, Persia and all over north Africa. At the end of the sixteenth century a German doctor traveling in the Near East described coffee as a drink as black as ink which is useful in the treatment of many illnesses, especially stomach disorders.

The thriving commerce between the Middle East, North Africa, and Venice soon brought coffee and coffee drinking to Venice, from where it quickly spread throughout Europe. Although there was suspicion of the drink due to its Muslim origins, Pope Clement VIII declared coffee to be a respectable Christian beverage in 1600, which decree made coffee drinking socially respectable and increased its popularity. The first coffee house in Europe opened in 1645 in Italy. Soon Dutch traders began importing large quantities of coffee to northern Europe. In spite of Arab prohibitions against allowing green coffee suppliers to export unroasted seeds or living coffee plants, in 1616 a Dutch trader named Pieter van den Broeck was able to smuggle some live coffee seedlings out of Aden to Europe. The Dutch began to grow coffee in their colonies in Ceylon and Java, and in 1711 coffee was first exported from Java to Holland. The English East India Company was also active in coffee growing and exporting at this time, and in 1657 coffee was first introduced in France. Coffee came to Poland and Austria after Turkish invaders were defeated in the Battle of Vienna in 1683 and their supplies of coffee were captured by the defenders.

Coffee came to North America with the European colonization, but it was not as successful there as it had been in the old country. The English tax on tea, which led to the Boston Tea Party and other protests by American colonists, turned America into a principally coffee drinking country. During the American Revolution tea imports from England were cut off and coffee demand increased to such an extent that the dealers were forced to hoard the scarce supply of fair trade coffee beans and to raise prices drastically. The War of 1812 also restricted imports of tea from England and created greater demand for coffee. The Civil War was fought on coffee, which became a contraband item at the frontier between north and south: illicit salt and coffee being traded for tobacco and cotton.



Source by Alice Lane

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