The Humble Beginnings Of The Devilish Beverage From Ethiopia Called Coffee

Do you realise the intricate and varied history of coffee as you sip on a cup of coffee? There is a long and entertaining story of how coffee was invented, how it migrated to your particular cup and an unending effort to produce the many flavours of coffee that continue to make it such a popular beverage.

the history of the coffee bean

Each country has added its taste preference and its own way of brewing as coffee spread around the world. This has resulted in a plethora of coffee drinks for us all to savour and enjoy. The unique customs across cultures has also added to this ritual of drinking coffee.

Where is your favourite coffeehouse?

Coffeehouses became very popular as news about the magical powers of coffee spread from Ethiopian shepherds and monks in Ethiopia to all corners of the world.

map of african coffee producing countries showing number of bags of coffee grown each yearDespite the popularity of the coffeehouses, they were at times deemed immoral. They were accused of drawing men away from their obligations to their homes and religious beliefs. Coffee drinking was even forbidden periodically because of these evils. However, the bans on coffee drinking did not last long due to the strong appeal of the pleasurable drink. The suppression of coffee drinking based on religious and political grounds was only a moment in time and coffee became a universal drink in the Arab lands. Coffee was eventually considered a moral and sober alternative to wine and spirit drinks. Coffee became a household word and was adopted into social customs as a featured beverage.

In Arabia, coffee was thrown at the feet of the bride as a religious offering. In the country of Turkey, coffee became a staple in the home. Failure to keep a supply of coffee for ones wife in the home was considered grounds for divorce in Turkey.

As travellers from Europe returned home they brought with them tales of the exotic coffee beverage. Coffee was regarded by some Westerners as the devil’s hellish brew. Despite this horrible reputation of coffee for some Westerners, it became a Christian drink with the blessing of Pope Clement VIII who loved the taste of coffee.

For centuries coffee distribution was controlled by the Arabs. They held a tight and zealous monopoly on the cultivation of the coffee plant until the 17th century. In the 17th century Dutch traders managed to steal some viable seeds and started commercial plantations in Indonesia.

What did the French ever do for us?

french press coffee filtersIt was not long until a French officer under the rule of King Louis XIV felt that the coffee plants should grow equally well in the French colonies of the West Indies. Gabriel Mathieu de Clieux and a gardener stole a cutting from a coffee plant in King Louis XIV’s botanical gardens. He planted the cutting in a glass trunk and sat sail for the West Indies. His journey was not easy. More than once Clieux placed his life on the line for his precious cargo. He fought off a Dutch spy who managed to tear off one of the plants limbs. He shared his ration of water with the plant when all the sailors were near to perishing of thirst. Clieux finally arrived at the island of Martinique and this one single plant started commercial coffee plantations that successfully rivalled the plantations of the Dutch. It is ironic to note that the initial cutting was taken from the coffee plant that was given to King Louis XIV as a gift from the Dutch!

King Louis XIV had a passion for coffee and enjoyed preparing it for guests in his golden coffeepot. After plantations started in Martinique a few years later a young Portuguese officer from Brazil charmed the French governors wife in French Guiana. She secretly saved some coffee cuttings to present to him as a token of her love for him. The Portuguese officer planted the cuttings in Brazil and began what are now the largest coffee plantations in the world.

What did the French ever do for us?  Well as it turns out, quite a lot actually!

Your Three-Step Guide To Buying Coffee Beans Online

If you are a newcomer to buying coffee beans, you may think it seems confusing as to what type to buy. But follow the three simple steps below and you will be an expert in no time!

Step 1:

  • Decide what type of beans you want. Coffee beans are generally classified according to the region they are grown in, which affects the taste. The two main types are arabica and robusta: arabica is a higher-quality bean and is usually fuller in flavour than robusta, however this does tend to be reflected in price, so if you are on a very tight budget you may want to try robusta beans to begin with.

Step 2:

Choose the taste and aroma characteristics that you want from your coffee. When you read descriptions of coffee beans, you will notice that they are often described in terms of flavour, aroma, body and acidity. The best way that you can get to grips with the different aspects of taste and aroma is to try out as many different types of coffee as possible. You will then develop your own favourites and be able to decide for yourself which types will be bestsellers for your business.

Step 3:

Find a reputable coffee bean dealer that suits you. Once you know what you are looking for, you can pick a company to buy your beans from. If you decide to buy your coffee beans online (often a quicker and easier alternative to buying them from a shop), make sure the website that you buy from allows you to shop securely, and read their privacy policy carefully.

One other thing to remember is that no matter how high the quality of the bean, the flavour of the coffee can still be impaired by grinding or brewing incorrectly, so make sure that you follow the recommendations of the manufacturers when subjecting the beans to these processes.

Make sure you are grinding your coffee beans properly

If you are looking for a great guide on the different types of coffee bean grinders, I would recommend taking a look at the excellent article over on My CoffeeHouse, they review the different types and give some excellent tips that will help you get the most of whichever coffee beans you buy.

Good luck and happy drinking.

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