Yes, 50% of us can’t bear to face the day without a cup of coffee or two in our tank.  But how much do you really know about your cup of Joe?

For many long-time coffee drinkers, finding out the truth about coffee’s origins is intriguing. Not only does understanding the history of coffee make you appreciate your beloved bean that much more, but it can help you to make more educated choices in what region you purchase coffee from and why.

Where Did Coffee Originate?

Coffee can be traced back to the 13th century and was believed to be discovered by an Ethiopian goat herder in the 9th century. The story goes something like this. A young Ethiopian goat herder was tending to his goats and noticed that they suddenly became energized after eating berries off of nearby trees.

As you may have guessed, these berries turned out to be coffee berries, and the energy that the goats experienced was from a good old caffeine buzz.

Coffee soon became popular throughout Ethiopia.

Monks began to dry the berries and transport them to far-off monasteries, where the berries were brewed with water to create a delicious liquid that monks used to stay up late for all-night prayer vigils.

Coffee was soon transported from Ethiopia to the Arabian Peninsula and was first commercially cultivated in Yemen.

Coffee then spread to Turkey where beans were roasted for the very first time over open fires. Although this fire roasting method is not as popular today, it is still used by many die-hard coffee lovers who prefer roasting over an open fire at home for a fresher flavor in their brew.

Coffee then made its way to Europe, where it was criticized by the Catholic Church.

With coffee’s deep roots in Christianity many people believed it was the drink of the devil. But the Pope turned out to be a fan of coffee and gave it his blessing – thank God… Coffee houses became popular places in Europe to conduct business and discuss political ideas.

It wasn’t long before coffee made it to America in the 1700s thanks to a French infantry captain who brought a small coffee tree across the Atlantic. The coffee plant was cultivated in the Caribbean and soon developed into more than 19 million trees over 50 years.

The word coffee entered the English language in 1598 from the Dutch word koffie, a derivative of the Turkish word kahve.

To leave you with more food for thought, here are a few fun facts about coffee that you can use to impress your friends the next time that you’re at Starbucks:

  • In ancient Turkey, bridegrooms had to promise in their wedding vows to always give their wives coffee. If they didn’t, it was grounds for divorce!
  • Voltaire was rumored to drink 50 cups of coffee per day.
  • Istanbul was home to the first coffee house in 1554.
  • One coffee tree yields one pound of roasted coffee per year.
  • The term “cup of Joe” came about in World War II when American military men, a.k.a. G.I. Joes, were known for being coffee drinkers.

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