Coffee's History

Discovering Coffee

Coffee Arabica was discovered growing wild on the plateaus of central Ethiopia around 600 AD. The tree was found in Yemen on the southern tip of the Arabian Peninsula. Coffee as a bean was first worshiped for its medicinal properties then as a beverage for religious meditation. Moving forward, it found a home for itself in dwellings known as coffeehouses.

The perfect cup of coffee.

According to legend, the Arabs guarded the fertile seed of the Coffee Arabica. Circa 1650 AD, Baba Budan, a Moslem from India pilfered coffee seeds and returned to southern India. There he planted the seeds in the Chikmagalgur hills starting the growth of the original trees known as var. Old Chick, providing approximately one-third of India's coffee crop.

Word spread about Indian coffee and the French attempted to produce coffee in Dijon but their attempts were futile due to the cold as they quickly learned that the coffee tree cannot endure frost. Next, the Dutch planted the seeds in Java where they flourished and established a dependable crop. In 1715, Louis XIV of France learned of this coffee tree and soon had a passion for coffee. He was granted a favor from the Dutch, who went to great lengths to obtain a coffee tree, the infamous Noble Tree. This tree traveled from the Arabian port of Mocha then to Java across Holland to its final destination in Paris. The first greenhouse in Europe was built to shelter the Noble Tree. This coffee tree flourished and produced a substantial crop. The Noble Tree gave birth to billions of Arabica trees, which can still be found today growing in Central and South America.

Chevalier Gabriel Mathiew de Clieu brought sprouts from the Noble Tree to Martinique in the Caribbean circa 1720. Those sprouts flourished and fifty years later there were 18,680 coffee trees in Martinique enabling the spread of coffee cultivation in Haiti, Mexico and the islands of the Caribbean.

The Noble Tree also found its way to the island of Reunion in the Indian Ocean known as the Isle of Bourbon. The plant produced smaller beans and was deemed a different variety of Arabica known as var. Bourbon. The infamous Santos coffee of Brazil and the Oaxaca coffee of Mexico are the progeny of that Bourbon tree. Circa 1727, the emperor of Brazil sent Francisco de Mello Palheta to French Guinea to obtain coffee seeds to become a part of the coffee market. Francisco initially had difficulty obtaining these seeds yet he captivated the French Governor's wife and she in turn, sent him enough seeds and shoots which would commence the coffee industry of Brazil. In 1893, the coffee from Brazil was introduced into Kenya and Tanzania, not far from its place of origin in Ethiopia, 600 years prior, ending its transcontinental journey.

The Popularity of Coffee

Coffee popularity

There is no question that coffee has been around for a long time; all we have to do is look at our own rich family history, which dates back into the 1800's. But so much has changed over the past thirty years as the world has become aware of premium coffees that are cultivated much like grapes for wine, in order to achieve taste profiles that excite the palette. Growers in most every origin country have come to understand the demand for high-quality, strictly hard bean (SHB) coffees that are processed in high-quality milling operations. And the coffee connoisseur is a rapidly growing segment that is always looking for that perfect straight coffee or blend that delivers the ultimate complex cup. What makes coffee great is that the definition of "perfect" is absolutely subjective. And it is that subjectivity that leads every coffee lover, and PapaNicholas, to the endless pursuit of the perfect cup.