The coffee bean has a bit of a mysterious past. As one of Planet Earth’s most ancient forms of stimulants, there was a natural progression from its immediate discovery to the modern-day form of coffee, which millions of humans consume on a daily basis.
According to multiple sources, there seems to be the common legend of an Ethiopian goat shepherd named Kaldi who noticed his flock was acting more energetic after consuming some small red berries. Kaldi brought the curious beans to monks and the group stayed awake the entire night, mesmerized by the stimulating power of the little red berries. This story has been passed down in oral tradition by many African ancestors, so it is difficult to determine when the actual discovery of the coffee bean took place, although many historians believe it may have been around 1500 A.D. to 1000 A.D.
In its most basic form, coffee is actually a cherry-like fruit that contains one bean in the middle of the berry. Once discovered, the fruits were often mashed together with animal fat to create energy-boosting protein bars. Eventually, the berries of the coffee plant were fermented to make a wine like pick-me-up and then, around 1000 A.D., drinks were made using the entirety of the coffee fruit. Finally, around the 13th century, the beans of the coffee plant were roasted and used in Arabia by the Muslim community, who were drawn to the stimulating power of the fruit which proved to be helpful during long prayer sessions. When Arabians were able to parch and boil the coffee beans over water, the beans grew infertile, leaving the African and Arabian regions to maintain a complete monopoly over the coffee trade until the 1600s.
Sometime within the 1600s, an Indian pilgrim named Bada Budan smuggled coffee beans out of the region thereby creating a European competitive market for the coffee trade. In 1616, the first European owned coffee shop was created in Sri Lanka, then Ceylon followed, and one more in Java. The French got had their hands in the coffee industry and followed suit by opening a coffeehouse in the Caribbean. Soon after, Spaniards began opening up shop in Central America and the Portuguese joined in the fun by launching shops in Brazil. European cafes finally began opening, where the popularity of coffeehouses grew rapidly and exponentially. The image of a Parisian sitting at a coffeehouse, sipping a cup of coffee, and eating baguette is practically ingrained as stereotypical French scenery.
Coffee reached the newly colonized North America in early 1700s, although did not make the switch until after the Boston Tea Party, where it became a patriotic duty to boycott the mother land’s drink of choice and begin drinking the exotic coffee fruit. Civil war soldiers used it for a boost during long hours of treacherous battle and U.S. President Teddy Roosevelt was rumored to drink over a gallon of coffee per day. By the late 1800s, the coffee business was booming and two Pittsburgh based brothers, John and Charles Arbuckle, purchased the new invention of a self-emptying coffee bean roaster which then produced the idea of selling coffee beans in paper bags to American Westerners. Big brand names, such as Maxwell House and Hills Brothers, followed the idea creating readily available coffee for the entire nation of the United States.
Coffee has a mystical and powerful history that we could never know for sure; however it is very clear with the emergence of the interesting little coffee fruit, changed the way humans stay amped up throughout our long days. Coffee has been a natural boost for humans since the discovery of its motivating powers and undoubtedly has continued to be a staple of earthly energy throughout the entire world.