This part of your life drives you. It is the reason you step out of the house with a smile on your face every day. It has become a necessity. No matter how much you try to stay away, you just can’t help but love it! Coffee, isn’t it great? It wakes you with waves of delicious nutty aroma and a caffeine jolt. Baristas and Coffee lovers around the world swear by this magical drink that is bitter yet not just that. The hold that coffee has on this world is monumental; so much so that it is the most globally traded commodity after crude oil!
Everyone tries coffee at least once in their lives. Some stick with it and some move on to other beverages. But if you have stuck with it as your choice of beverage, there is one question to ask. How do you take your coffee? Are you an instant coffee enthusiast that finds it efficient to just mix some powder in and go on about your day? Or are you one of those budding aficionados of coffee that gets the beans roasted and ground to perfection and spends time extracting the smoothest of flavours to savour? Wherever on this spectrum you fall matters less when it comes to our next area of intrigue. Do you know how coffee came to be?
Intertwined History & Culture of Coffee
The origins of coffee are debated. Some say the history can be dated back to the thirteenth century, and some claim that a 9th-century goat herder discovered it in the Ethiopian forests, though without solid evidence. There are so many other stories of how and when coffee got discovered. The cultural implications of coffee around the world developed along with its timeline and geography. Early reports suggest that coffee was used as a prayer drink as it helped with concentration. Around the 15th century, coffee was cultivated for the first time in Yemen. Soon it spread across Arabia. Public coffeehouses started popping up called ‘qahveh khaneh’. These became so popular that they started becoming symbols of intelligence and social acceptance and at one point were known as ‘Schools of the Wise’. They became a cultural milestone in the Arabic region. By the 17th century, coffee had reached Europe after several reports of a ‘unique black beverage from Arabia’. Early reactions to coffee in Europe were of suspicion calling it the ‘Devil’s bitter invention’ and it was condemned in a few regions. It took a pope’s official taste test for these doubts to die down. And despite these rumours, coffee houses did not find it difficult to create a space for themselves in the socio-cultural space of European countries. Coffee replaced their breakfast choices, beer or wine and energised people in the morning instead of intoxication. This increased work efficiency and hence coffee became even more popular.
Travels to the New World: Plantations in Other Regions
Coffee reached the New World by the 1700s. Coffee plantations all over the world were high in demand. The Dutch tried to plant seedlings in India but failed but soon after succeeded in the plantation on Java Island i.e. Indonesia. Soon after, they expanded their plantations to other regions. Gabriel de Clieu, a French naval officer, is credited as the person that started plantations in America. Through a seedling he took from the King’s Royal Botanical Garden in Paris, he brought the plant to America in 1723. This ended up expanding plantations throughout various regions of America.
One might imagine that the introduction of coffee to India would be through the East India Company, but coffee reached the country much earlier. In 1670, a saint named ‘Baba Budan’ brought coffee beans from Yemen, and helped start a plantation in the Chikmagalur region of Karnataka. Today this region boasts 53% of all of India’s coffee production. Indian coffee is the first and only coffee grown in shade rather than the usual way of growing it in stark sunlight.
Coffee is a complex drink, socially and otherwise. Coffee shops or cafes are a huge part of modern culture and drive many social processes today. Introductions, door-openers, alarms, flavour journeys; coffee means many different things to people. Coffee has become a social cue in today’s society, a way to enter a community. We meet new people over coffee, old relationships are mulled over a cuppa, we judge people by inquiring if they enjoy coffee or tea, and many more intersections of coffee and people. There is a whole world of coffee and its stories to explore if only you let your curiosity for your favourite or the world’s favourite drink run wild!
Venture into the intricacies and complexities of this magical bean and discover the passions and struggles that push this drink further to become loved all over the world! As food service consultants, we at HPG Consulting aim to dive deep into the origins and developments of food and beverage to ensure you receive a thoroughly-designed beverage program. We provide solutions and technical guidance for cafes, restaurants, bars and hotels to develop their food and beverage services.