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Coffee History

The history of coffee dates to unknown times. Legend says it was first discovered around 850 A.D. in a west Ethiopian forest by a goat herder by the name of Kaldi. One day he noticed his goats became restless and energetic after eating the berries. After his encounter he brought this berry to an Abbot, a local monastery official. After making a drink out of it the monk became more energized and could have longer prayer times. Soon others would be drinking coffee and feeling the same effects.

What we do know for sure about coffee is that around the 15th century coffee was being traded and grown in Yemen. Sufi Imam Muhammad Ibn Said Al Dhabhani was known to have brought the coffee plants from Ethiopia to Yemen. The Sufi’s used this coffee bean to stay awake in prayer sessions for longer durations.  Coffee houses began to pop up where they became social gatherings and entertainment places. Coffee spread throughout the Middle East and then into Europe. Coffee at first was considered a suspicion drink or an invention of Satan and in some places it was banned for some time. Ethiopian Orthodox Church banned coffee, but attitudes changed quickly and coffee spread once again. Pope Clement VII lifted the ban on coffee in Europe after he first tasted and quickly fell in love with coffee. 

During the 1600’s the coffee trade began. Malta was the first European country to bring coffee beans into the European continent.. Turkish slaves consumed it as a beverage and others followed suit. It was a way for the slaves to earn some money by preparing the beverage.

The Dutch traders were successful planting coffee beans. They first failed by planting them in India but shortly tried their efforts on the island of Java. After successful cultivation,  production and trade began and expanded to the nearby island of Sumatra. The Dutch East India Company began importing coffee from these islands. Many other Europeans began to follow. The Dutch were one of the major players in coffee trade and development in coffee plantations and trade. 

In 1714, King Louis XIV of France received a gift of coffee plants.  He then had the coffee planted on the island of Martinique ( in the West Indies). The plant was such a huge accomplishment on the island as it formed the foundation of all coffee plants in Central and South America. 

The Portuguese brought the coffee to Brazil from the French. The French were not willing to give up this coffee plant so easily. Francisco de Mello Palheta used his charms and looks to acquire this plant from the French Governor’s wife from a secret exchange. This would eventually lead to Brazil becoming the largest producer of coffee worldwide. The Spanish took the plant to Central and South American in the 19th century. As colonists continued to spread the seed and open plantations across the new world, it became the second largest commodity after crude oil. By the 18th century, coffee had become one of the world’s most profitable commodities

In 1607, Captain John Smith introduced coffee to other settlers of Jamestown. Because early Americans preferred tea as their drink choice, coffee didn’t thrive right away. In 1670, Dorothy Jones became the first person to legally sell coffee in early Boston. Coffee was popular in the United States, but tea was still the preferred caffeinated drink. Coffee houses or coffee shops weren’t on scene until the famous 1773 Boston Tea Party. In fact, Benjamin Franklin hung out at coffee shops while living in London. He would meet political figures or engage in chess. This was before it was popular in the United States.  The sudden shift of adopting this coffee culture would forever change the new world. Rebel colonists revolted and made the switch from tea to coffee against King George III and his government. Colonists protested the high British tea tax and dumped a shipment of tea into Boston Harbor. Later on during the American Civil War, consumption increased and businessmen began to profit off the war. Both the Union and Confederates had a need for a morning “cup of joe” for alertness. James Folger sold coffee beans to the miners during the 1849 gold rush.  Charles and John Arbuckle began selling roasted coffee to cowboys in the West. Our  26th President, Teddy Roosevelt was known to have drank a gallon of coffee every day.  Coffee continued to gain traction as the favorite morning beverage, but to Teddy it seemed to be an all day thing.  After the second World War, instant coffee became a new favorite and remained very popular until Starbucks came around in 1971. Starbucks’s success came from opening coffee shops all across the United States and throughout the world. They mastered consistency and innovative ideas to become the largest coffee shop business in the world. 

Today, small batch coffee roasters are on the rise. Third wave coffee is the new coffee revolution. They are giving consumers more options to choose . As we see in the beer and wine industry, coffee has its own “micro” and independently operated businesses. New brewing and roasting processes are redefining how we can be innovative with our coffee. This allows new coffee producers to become discovered, since more independent coffee roasters are willing to experiment with new coffees. We will discuss more about 1st, 2nd and 3rd wave coffee in the near future.

As we evolve in the coffee industry, we will discover new ideas that could be beneficial to the future of coffee.  If Banyan Coffee Company can be a part of this process then we did our job correctly. Our job here is not just to roast coffee but to help our customers with a basic coffee foundation. You can always catch us at the Bradenton farmers’ market on Saturdays where we sell coffee and share coffee ideas. If you have any questions feel free to email us or ask us in person. See you at the market! 

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