The history of coffee began in Ethiopia, where the coffee tree (Coffeaarabica) grew as a shrub. Initially the whole fruit was used by the local populations, who either chewed or grinded it in small pellets. The oldest reliable reference concerning coffee consumption or knowledge of coffee trees appears in the mid-15th century in Yemen's Sufi churches.
The name of the coffee is derived from the Arabic word qahwa (qahwa) which is a derogation of a part of the original Arabic name of coffee, qahwat al-būnn, which means "coffee wine", which refers to the fact that coffee is used as a substitute for wine, as the Koran prohibits the consumption of alcohol. When coffee first came to Europe it was known as "Arabian wine". Another version places the origin of the name in the Kingdom of Kaffa, the Ethiopian region where coffee was initially being used.
From Africa, coffee became known in Yemen, where slaves from Soudan, as we know it today, brought it with them.
Then, from Yemen, coffee became known further north, at Mecca and Medina, and from there in the major cities of North Africa. Coffee’s property as a means against sleepiness made it popular among the Sulfites, and while the Koran prohibits the consumption of alcohol, coffee was considered a good substitute, and from a social perspective its use was the same as in the West: coffee shops became a place of gatherings, discussions, fun or even gambling.
The first coffee shops were opened in Moka, the main port for coffee trade. Several times, coffee shops became a place where political debates and activities took place, and this is why many attempts were made to shut these places down, however, without success, due to the popularity of this beverage. The attempts made by Imams in Mecca and the Ethiopian Church to generally prohibit coffee as a stimulant beverage, were also unsuccessful.
Coffee (as a finished product – the Arabs strictly prohibited the export of seeds) became known in Europe through Venice, whiche kept strong trade relations with the Arab world, in the late 16th century. Coffee was originally sold by the Venetian merchants to the wealthy people of Venice, as an exotic product. Its popularity grew after Pope Climis VIII tasted it in the 1600s, found it excellent and named it a Christian drink, despite the advice of some people to anathematize it as anIslamic threat to Christianity. The first cafe opened in Italy in 1645.
Dutch people were the first to get coffee seeds and cultivate them,initially at their colonies in Indonesia. At the same time, Baba Budan, on his return from Mekka, smuggled coffee seeds to India, hiding them in the folds of his clothes.
Coffee became rapidly famous in Europe; in England there were 3,000 coffee shops in 1675. Coffee became known in France in 1657.In 1669,the envoy of Sultanate Mohammed IV, who visited Paris brought with him as a large quantity of coffee as a gift.
One of the spoils of the Poles, Austrians and Germans after their victory in Vienna in 1683 were the manysacks of coffee left behind by the defeated Ottoman army. FranceszKulzewski, a Polish officer, to whom these sacks of coffee were given as a gift for his bravery, opened a coffee shop, and he innovated by adding sugar and milk to the coffee. So, thanks to this victory coffee became known in Austria, Poland and Germany.
Coffee was introduced to the American continentby the French through their colonies in Martinique, French Guiana and elsewhere. The first plants were brought by Gabriel de Cliustifrom Martinique in 1714. From there coffee passed to French Guiana. In 1727, Francisco Palette was sent by the Brazilian king to Guiana to bring coffee seeds to his country. As the extrication of the seeds proved difficult, Palletta solved the problem by seducing the French governor's wife, who gave him seeds and coffee sprouts. So the plant came to Brazil, which is today the largest coffee-producing country in the world.
Around the same time, coffee was cultivated in Jamaica, in 1740 in Mexico, in 1784 in Venezuela, and at the end of the century in Colombia. In 1893, coffee passed from Brazil to Kenya and Tanzania, thus completing its intercontinental journey that began 900 years ago in Ethiopia.
There are two main types of coffee trees, which produce two coffee varieties and support the coffee tradeworldwide: Arabica coffee and Robusta coffee.
The Arabica variety, is the oldest of the two varieties. It is believed that it was cultivated for the first time inEthiopia, but, as its name indicates, it was first cultivated at the Arabian Peninsula.
78% of worldwide coffee production is of the Arabica variety. It thrives better at high altitudes, has a very refined taste compared to other types of coffee and contains 1% caffeine.
The Arabica variety nowadays is mainly produced in Central and South American countries and is known for its strong aromatic flavor. Different types of light coffee (mild coffees) are made from high quality Arabica variety.
The Robusta variety is more resistant to plant diseases than theArabica, due to the fact that it contains nearly twice the amount of caffeine (caffeine can paralyze and kill some of the insects that threaten the coffee tree). It is a "sturdy" variety with high production per plant. It thrives at lower altitudes and has a tougher, harder taste.
The Robusta variety, which accounts for the remaining 22% of the world production, has the potential to adapt to hot and humid climates, where the Arabica variety cannot thrive. Despite its more neutral taste the Robusta variety is very popular, especially in the form of dissolvable coffee.
The majority of the current coffee products are a combination of the two varieties, with different characteristics,in order to satisfy the different consumer needs.
The most well-known effect of coffee is that on the central nervous system. In reasonable quantities, coffee improves mental abilities as it alerts and reduces tediousness. The main reason for that is that it contains caffeine, an alkaloid that acts as a tonic. For this reason coffee is usually consumed in the morning hours or during work. Most susceptible to the effect of caffeine are the elderly, especially with regard to sleep. On the contrary, when we are talking about small quantities of coffee, children are no more susceptible thanadults. Sometimes, coffee helps pupils and students to maintain their concentration when they study for many hours.
In the human brain, caffeine causes vasoconstriction, while in regional vessels, dilation. Therefor in medicine, caffeine is used sometimes tofight migraine.