Where Do Coffee Beans Come From?

Coffee has been a very popular beverage for over a thousand years. The coffee bean has been a source of both economic growth and political controversy ever since it was discovered. It has been involved in international intrigue, religious debates and even torrid romantic adventures.

Ripening Coffee Beans On Plant

Discovery of Coffee

First discovered when an Ethiopian Herdsman noticed his flock of goats eating some red berries off of a bush in 850 A.D. He noticed that the goats seemed to have more energy after eating the berries. After trying the berry himself, he noticed it had a very stimulating effect.

Originally called Kaldi, the herdsman took a handful of the berries to a local monastery and told his story of discovery to the local monks. At first, the berries were declared to be the devil’s work by the monks. But after they learned that the beans inside the red skin could be roasted and made into a stimulating beverage, they began to see the benefits of this discovery.

The coffee bean soon became a commodity that changed national economies and helped create great wealth for those that grew the crops. In 1,000 A.D., a local physician began to promote the medicinal properties of the coffee bean. It became very popular as an energy drink to help people stay awake and get more work done.

Export to Europe

Coffee beans continued to grow in popularity and became a much sought after commodity in Europe and the Asian Continent. Coffee houses began to spring up all over Europe, creating a whole new commercial enterprise. In ancient Turkey, coffee was thought of as an aphrodisiac and it even became a law that it was grounds for divorce by a woman if her husband did not provide her with a daily quota of coffee.

Even though coffee was very popular throughout the known world, it was still not without controversy. There were still those who felt the coffee bean was evil and in 1511 A.D. Governor Khayr Bey of Mecca banned the beverage. This caused chaos throughout the region, resulting in political debates and even rumors of a revolt breaking out.

The public outcry influenced the political leaders and because of Governor Bey’s refusal to remove the ban, it resulted in his execution.

Until the 1600’s, coffee was grown in Northern Africa and Arabia. They wanted to keep control of the production prices and in order to maintain the crops they banned any attempts to export fertile beans. Coffee beans would be boiled to remove the husks so they could not be grown anywhere else.

This resulted in another problem known as coffee-smuggling. Eventually, these smugglers were able to get enough of the fertile berries out of the region to allow the crops to grow in other areas around the world.

Export to the West

The stimulating beverage was imported to the western world when Captain John Smith, one of the first founders of the Jamestown Colony in Virginia, brought the coffee beans to the new world. He introduced the beverage to Princess Pocahontas after she intervened with her father, the native Chief, to spare John Smith’s life.

Since that time, merchants have been trading coffee beans around the world. Coffee houses have been built everywhere, as the beverage has grown in popularity.

Modern Coffee Production

The production of coffee as a crop has traveled from northern Africa and Asia to other regions like Brazil, Columbia, Spain, Cuba, Turkey and many other countries. Production of the coffee plants requires a warm to hot weather environment. But once the coffee beans are grown, there are many companies that are involved in the coffee trade. Coffee merchants became popular everywhere from Austria and Turkey to London, Amsterdam, Venice, Berlin and more.

Once the coffee beans are purchased from growers, they are shipped all over the world, where coffee manufacturers grind the beans up and package them to ship to their own vendors. There are literally thousands of coffee brands available today, all coming from the crops grown in the hotter climate areas.