The History of Coffee: 5 Stimulating Facts

Did you know, coffee only comes second to petroleum as the world’s most traded commodity?

History has it that coffee originated from Ethiopia, and was common in the Middle East in the 16 th century as a concentration aid, before it sparked a social revolution in the UK in the 17th century. As you partake of your favorite beverage, here are some fascinating facts about coffee you probably didn’t know.

Coffee beans Photo by Patryk Gauza on Unsplash

Fact no. 1. Coffee was discovered by a goat herder

It is believed that an Ethiopian goat herder named Kaldi may have discovered coffee in the 9th century while going about his business of herding goats. Kaldi watched his goats get excited after eating berries from one particular tree, and shared the amazing discovery with the abbot of the local monastery. The abbot instructed his servants to dry and boil the berries to make a hot beverage. He threw some berries into the fire, resulting in an incredible aroma that rent the air.

The abbot and his monks made the first cup of coffee from roasted beans that were dissolved in hot water, and it was found out that the drink kept them awake for long, just what they needed as they could devote more time for prayer.

Fact no. 2. Coffee was first brewed by a saint from Mocha

In another fascinating twist, coffee might have been discovered by a Sheik from the city of Mocha. This Sheik named Omar was popular for his healing powers done through prayers. He lived a desert cave in Ousab, in the present day Yemen.

One day, he was hungry, so he decided to chew some berries from a tree. He found the berries bitter, therefore, he decided to roast them. Roasting made them hard, so he tried boiling them. He came up with a brown liquid which, upon drinking, he instantly felt more alert and energized. That made him stay awake for days, but he didn’t know his miraculous discovery would earn him a return to Mocha, his home, where he would be elevated to sainthood. Coffee percolated throughout Yemen and the larger Arab world, and by the 16th century, it had become the beverage of choice in Syria, Egypt, Turkey, and Persia.

Fact no. 3. Coffee brought a social revolution

The popularity of coffee grew immensely to a point that it sparked a social revolution. It was drunk in homes, but it is in popular coffee houses that everything started. People would have fun, play games, discuss social matters, and socialize in public coffee houses. You had to go to a coffee house if you wanted to know what was happening around your world.

Fact no. 4. Coffee was believed to be a sinful drink

Like alcohol, coffee faced widespread rebellion from zealots drawn from all religions. They wanted it banned, but it was not to be except in a few cases. In 1511, the governor of Mecca Khair Beg led a ban on the use of coffee in a jurists and scholars meeting that was taking place in Mecca. His biggest fear was that coffee would bring men together for long hours, and they would end up discussing his controversial rule. The ban would later be lifted in 1524 through an order from Sultan Selim I, the Ottoman from Turkey who claimed the drink was sacred.

Fact no. 5. Coffee was home-breaker in the 17th century

In the 17th century, women were not freely allowed into coffee shops, unless they were prostitutes. A publication in support of women was written by Mary Astell who voiced women’s concerns about men spending too much time in coffee houses, and neglecting their homes. It was a petition against coffee as neglected wives argued that their husbands had neglected their domestic duties, and only had time for the prostitutes at the coffee houses.

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