How coffee came to Europe
At home and abroad, Germany is known as the country of beer drinkers. A completely different drink takes the top spot when it comes to consumption, namely coffee. But it was a long way before the pick-me-up found its way into the German cups. What do we even know about the history of coffee? We take you on a coffee trip: From the cradle of coffee in Africa, to the long journey to Europe, to the current state of coffee in society. Learn something new about the history of coffee with TangyCoffee.
Africa – the cradle of coffee
The home of all types of coffee is Africa. In the cool highlands of Ethiopia and the adjoining Boma Plateau of Sudan, there is the natural distribution of Arabica coffee, which has been known for centuries. The arabica bean was consumed very early, as the cultivation of arabica coffee in terrace gardens in southern Yemen was already known in the 15th century and from the middle of the 17th century it also spread to Sri Lanka, Java and South America. The type of coffee thrives in shady forests at altitudes of 1,300 to 1,800 m.
The wild growing Robusta bean was not discovered in the Congo until 1889 and was therefore only grown in Java around 1900. The coffee bean is sensitive to the cold and, unlike Arabica, also thrives in the lowlands and is cultivated in the regions between the 10th parallel north and south of the equator. Vietnam, Indonesia, Uganda and the Ivory Coast are among the most important growing regions that export the coveted variety worldwide.
From Africa to Europe: the long journey of a valuable bean
According to legend an Ethiopian goatherd was once plagued by the nocturnal liveliness of his herd. After asking a monk for help, he discovered that the animals were eating bright red berries from a bush. When he then poured hot water over the fruit, he supposedly created the first coffee. Whether the effect of coffee beans was actually discovered in this way can no longer be assessed today.
In the 15th century, coffee, which was initially grown in Yemen, spread throughout the Middle East through travelers and pilgrims. The coffee finally made its way to Egypt and Asia Minor via the trading cities of Medina and Mecca, from where it was only a stone’s throw to Europe. The trade monopoly remained in the hands of the Arabs for a long time, however, and coffee beans were therefore a coveted and expensive commodity that only the well-heeled aristocrats could afford.
Nonetheless, trade experienced a lively boom at the beginning of the 17th century and over the course of the century, the famous coffee houses emerged in European metropolises, which were initially only visited by the rich and artists. After the cultivation of the coffee bean spread around the world and became increasingly popular, its price fell. So the common people could also afford the hot drink. In addition, factory owners recognized the productivity-increasing effect of coffee in the morning relatively early on.
Coffee beans are currently the most traded raw material in the world and global sales amount to an unbelievable $ 100 billion. 90 percent of the coffee is grown in developing countries, while consumption is mainly concentrated in industrialized countries.
Coffee in today’s society
Today, the Arabica is grown worldwide between the 23rd north latitude and the 25th south latitude. The main producers are Brazil, Colombia, Guatemala and Mexico. As in many countries, coffee has become an integral part of everyday life for many in Germany. According to the German Coffee Association, 86% of adults drink coffee every day or several times a week, with consumers in Germany consuming an average of 0.41 l per day.
While the classic filter coffee was the trend in the past, those in a hurry now rely on pads and capsules, while connoisseurs prefer fully automatic machines or portafilter machines. The machines not only conjure up aromatic coffee, but also many delicious coffee creations in the cup. In addition to the popular classics such as cappuccino, café latte and espresso, new trends such as cold brew, bullet proof, flat white, coffee cocktails and other creative specialties continue to conquer the hearts of coffee lovers.
Coffee enthusiasts are also placing increasing importance on the selection of coffee types and appreciate the unmistakable aroma of freshly roasted and ground beans. Even though Fairtrade and gourmet coffee has now conquered the shelves of discounters, many coffee fans take advantage of the diverse and high-quality range of micro-roasters, which have recently become increasingly popular. There are suitable blends of fresh coffee beans for every taste.
Ultimately, even the most modern aroma protection packaging cannot prevent coffee powder from losing its aroma. This is why true connoisseurs often grind their freshly roasted beans themselves. In addition to the hand mill, numerous manufacturers also offer high-quality coffee grinders for this. In modern fully automatic coffee machines, however, these are usually already integrated.
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The most important facts about the history of coffee at a glance
- Coffee first came to Europe in the 16th century
- Trade began to flourish at the beginning of the 17th century
- The first coffee house in Venice was built in 1645 and became a popular meeting place for artists
- In the middle of the 19th century, coffee became a popular drink
- Today every German drinks an average of 0.41 liters a day