What comes to mind when you read the phrase, ‘Journey of coffee?’

Coffee’s journey is about how coffee beans were discovered and how they have travelled across nations to become the global beverage that they are.

Each cup of coffee is a history lesson with centuries of culture and innovation. From the ancient forests of Ethiopia to your sleek, modern espresso machine, and even your coffee cups, each sip has a story about coffee’s journey.

Let’s break down this beloved beverage’s journey into five key stages, and I’ll even share a personal anecdote that illustrates just how deep and varied this coffee rabbit hole goes.

.Stage 1: Ethiopia –The Beginning of the Journey of Coffee 

The journey of coffee begins in the highlands of Ethiopia, where coffee was first discovered. According to folklore, a goat herder named Kaldi noticed his goats jumping energetically after eating the berries from a particular bush. Curious about this discovery, he tried the berries himself. He felt a surge of energy after digesting the berries. He took the berries to a local monastery where the monks brewed the first coffee by throwing the beans in the fire out of skepticism. They later ground, boiled and drank them which kept them alert. 

Coffee soon became a ceremonial staple in Ethiopian culture, enjoyed in community gatherings and celebrations 


Stage 2: Coffee Goes to Arab

‘It is possible that when the Ethiopians invaded and ruled Yemen for some fifty years in the sixth century, they deliberately set up coffee plantations,’ writes Mark Pendergrast. ‘The Arabs took to the stimulating drink. They began cultivating the trees, complete with irrigation ditches, in the nearby mountains, calling it qahwa, an Arab word for wine—from which the name coffee derives.’

Coffee bloomed as a cultural phenomenon in Yemen. Yamen’s Port city of Mocha (yup, as in coffee type) became a trade hub. synonymous with its high-quality coffee and soon coffee was a staple in the Middle East.  Yemen’s port city of Mocha (yes, as in the coffee type) became a crucial trade hub. Soon, coffee was a staple in   Middle Eastern homes. Coffee houses were established where people gathered to discuss philosophy, politics and poetry as they enjoyed steaming cups of coffee

Mocha with latte art in white mug on brown table

Read – Your Mocha is Named After The Birthplace of The Coffee Trade

Stage 3: Coffee Sparks A Social Revolution in 17th Century Europe 

By the 17th century, coffee journeyed into Europe, overcoming initial resistance, like concerns over it being called Satan’s drink to become a popular beverage. Venice opened one of Europe’s first coffee houses in 1645, and the trend quickly spread. European coffee houses became centers for intellectual exchange, known as ‘penny universities’ because one could buy a cup and listen to engaging conversations. This supports the idea that coffee stimulates intellectual and social dialogue.

The early coffee houses in cities like London, Paris, and Vienna became spaces for people to gather, discuss ideas, and engage in intellectual conversations. These coffee houses became hubs of social activity, attracting artists, writers, politicians, and thinkers. Coffee houses played a significant role in shaping the cultural landscape of the time

Stage 4: Coffee’s Journey During European Colonial Expansion 

As European colonialism expanded during the 17th and 18th centuries, coffee seedlings reached the Americas across the Atlantic Ocean. This was part of a larger movement of plants and agricultural techniques that accompanied European explorers and colonizers as they established new territories.

The conducive climates of Central and South America, particularly Brazil, saw coffee bloom into a major agricultural commodity. Unfortunately, this expansion was also marked by the exploitative use of slave labour, casting a dark shadow over coffee’s history. Despite these beginnings, the regions became powerhouses in coffee production, contributing significantly to the global supply.

Stage 5: Industrial Advance and Cultural Integration

The Industrial Revolution was a turning point in the journey of coffee, as technological advancements made large-scale roasting and grinding possible, and innovations like the espresso machine revolutionized coffee consumption. Coffee became a ubiquitous presence in the lives of the industrial workforce, symbolized by the coffee break—a staple of workplace culture across the globe.

Stage 6: The Third Wave—A Return to Roots

The latest stage in the journey of coffee is the third-wave coffee movement, which emphasizes quality, sustainability, and artisan methods. This movement is about appreciating the unique flavours of different regions, ethical sourcing, and recognizing the craftsmanship involved in coffee production. Today, coffee lovers partake in tastings much like wine connoisseurs, relishing in the distinct notes of single-origin beans and valuing the transparency of the production process.

Conclusion –

From its roots in Ethiopia to European coffee houses and the American Revolution, coffee’s history is intertwined with global events and cultural shifts. Each step in its journey has contributed to the beverage’s deep cultural significance and widespread popularity.

Coffee is more than just a drink; it’s a testament to human connection, culture, and history. Its journey from ancient Ethiopia to modern cafes worldwide reflects humanity’s evolving tastes and global interactions.

As you enjoy our next cup, remember you are not just sipping on a beverage but partaking in a rich, global tradition brewing for centuries.