The origins of coffee

The stimulating effect of the coffee bean is thought to have first been discovered in Ethiopia, Africa in the 9th century. Coffee took a journey through Africa into Arabia.

The earliest notable evidence of coffee drinking is from the fifteenth century, in the Sufi monasteries of Yemen. Legend has it, that an ancient mystic observed lively birds pecking at some berries and he proceeded to try some himself! An alternative account depicts a goat-herd, who on seeing his goats energized by the coffee plant, he ate some himself and then rushed to show a holy man in the nearby monastery. However, the holy man cast them into the fire in disgust. Yet when a beautiful aroma arose from the flames, they decided to gather the embers, grind them, and dissolve them in hot water, making the world’s first cup of coffee!

In Yemen, there is evidence that coffee beans were roasted and brewed. By the following century, coffee had reached all the Middle East, after which coffee spread to Italy and into Europe, Indonesia and America.

Coffee also became available no later than the 16th century in England. The first coffeehouse in England was opened in St. Michael’s Alley in Cornhill.

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