According to some the discovery of coffee goes back as far as the 9th-century when an Ethiopian goat-herder noticed his goats nibbling on the red berries of a small bush. Curious about the ensuing hyperactive behavior of his flock, he chewed the fruit himself. His exhilaration and rejuvenation prompted him to share his findings with a monk in a nearby monastery.
When the monk disapproved of the berries and their effect, he threw them in a fire. This caused an enticing aroma to spread around the monastery, prompting a further investigation by other monks. The blackened beans were raked from the ashes, ground up, and dissolved in hot water, producing the world’s first cups of coffee.
Another story attributes the discovery of coffee to a healer called Omari, who got himself exiled to the desert. Close to starvation and severely weakened he chewed berries from a small bush to stay alive. Although it improved his condition he certainly didn’t like the bitter taste. He tried roasting and finally boiling the beans to improve the flavor, with the production of coffee as the end result. He returned to Mocha with his new “medicine” and for discovering this wonderful drink he was declared a saint.
Nice stories indeed, however the earliest factual evidence of people drinking coffee stems from the beginning of the 15th-century and originated in Ethiopia.
From there Yemeni traders brought it back to their homeland and started cultivating coffee trees. In Yemen coffee was first used during religious practices as an aid to concentration and to produce a kind of spiritual intoxication during prayer. The word “coffee” is believed to come from the word “qahwa” which originally meant wine. It’s use then spread via Arabia and Egypt to arrive in Turkey around 1515. During the 16th century, it reached the rest of the Middle East. From there it ended up in Italy and eventually the rest of Europe. In the 17th-century the Dutch brought it to the East Indies and the Americas.
Fast forward to today and it is consumed by people all around the globe, who together drink around 820 billion cups of coffee per year.
Because of its widespread use it actually is the second most traded commodity in the world after oil and it’s trade is worth more than 40 billion dollars a year. Today there are about 25 million farmers and workers in over 50 countries involved in the production of 18500 million lbs / 8400 million kg -of coffee beans.
Coffee beans are the seeds found inside berries from the Coffee plant. The two most commonly grown varieties are arabica and robusta. Arabica beans are regarded a superior bean compared to the cheaper robusta beans since it has almost twice the concentration of sugars that create key aromatic compounds during the roasting process. Another difference between the two varieties is the much higher cost associated with growing arabica beans due to lower yield per acre and the need for higher growing temperatures and increased rainfall.
After the berries are ripe, harvested and processed, the green beans are either purchased from farmers by middlemen and exported, or directly exported by larger producers. All coffee is commonly sold to coffee processing and distributing companies in the developed world at a rate set by speculators and traders on the New York Coffee Exchange.
The largest coffee producing nation in the world is Brasil, where about 1/3 of all coffee comes from.
Top 5 Countries with the highest per-capita yearly consumption of coffee by weight.
1 Finland: 26.5 lbs / 12.0 kg
2 Norway: 21.8 lbs / 9.9 kg
3 Denmark: 19.2 lbs / 8.7 kg
4 The Netherlands: 18.5 lbs / 8.4 kg
5 Sweden: 18.1 lbs / 8.2 kg
The USA is number 25 on this list with 9.3 lbs / 4.2 kg