The history and development of the beverage that we know as coffee is varied and interesting, involving chance occurrences, political intrigue, and the pursuit of wealth and power.
According to one story, the effect of coffee beans on behavior was noticed by a sheep herder from Caffa Ethiopia named Kaldi as he tended his sheep. He noticed that the sheep became hyperactive after eating the red "cherries" from a certain plant when they changed pastures. He tried a few himself, and was soon as overactive as his herd. The story relates that a monk happened by and scolded him for "partaking of the devil's fruit." However the monks soon discovered that this fruit from the shiny green plant could help them stay awake for their prayers.
Another legend gives us the name for coffee or "mocha." An Arabian was banished to the desert with his followers to die of starvation. In desperation, Omar had his friends boil and eat the fruit from an unknown plant. Not only did the broth save the exiles, but their survival was taken as a religious sign by the residents of the nearest town, Mocha. The plant and its beverage were named Mocha to honor this event.
Originally the coffee plant grew naturally in Ethiopia, but once transplanted in Arabia was monopolized by them. One early use for coffee would have little appeal today. The Galla tribe from Ethiopia used coffee, but not as a drink. They would wrap the beans in animal fat as their only source of nutrition while on raiding parties. The Turks were the first country to adopt it as a drink, often adding spices such as clove, cinnamon, cardamom and anise to the brew.
Coffee was introduced much later to countries beyond Arabia whose inhabitants believed it to be a delicacy and guarded its secret as if they were top secret military plans. Transportation of the plant out of the Moslem nations was forbidden by the government. The actual spread of coffee was started illegally. One Arab named Baba Budan smuggled beans to some mountains near Mysore, India, and started a farm there. Early in this century, the descendants of those original plants were found still growing fruitfully in the region.
Coffee was believed by some Christians to be the devil's drink. Pope Vincent III heard this and decided to taste it before he banished it. He enjoyed it so much he baptized it, saying "coffee is so delicious it would be a pity to let the infidels have exclusive use of it."
Coffee today is grown and enjoyed worldwide, and is one of the few crops that small farmers in third-world countries can profitably export.
What qualifies a coffee as organic?
Organic coffee is grown using methods and materials that have a low impact on the environment. Organic production systems replenish and maintain soil fertility, reduce the use of toxic and persistent pesticides and fertilizers, and build biologically diverse agriculture. Third-party certification organizations verify that organic farmers abide by the law. (read more from the source)
What are Fair Trade Organics?
Fair Trade Certification empowers farmers and farm workers to lift themselves out of poverty by investing in their farms and communities, protecting the environment, and developing the business skills necessary to compete in the global marketplace. (read more from the source)
Look for these logo's to certify Organic and Fair Trade Coffees:
Excerpt from UTNE READER, Nov/Dec 94, by Mark Schapiro, "Muddy Waters"
Prior to 1000 A.D.: Members of the Galla tribe in Ethiopia notice that they get an energy boost when they eat a certain berry, ground up and mixed with animal fat.
1000 A.D.: Arab traders bring coffee back to their homeland and cultivate the plant for the first time on plantations. They also began to boil the beans, creating a drink they call "qahwa" (literally, that which prevents sleep).
1453: Coffee is introduced to Constantinople by Ottoman Turks. The world's first coffee shop, Kiva Han, open there in 1475. Turkish law makes it legal for a woman to divorce her husband if he fail to provide her with her daily quota of coffee.
1511: Khair Beg, the corrupt governor of Mecca, tries to ban coffee for feat that its influence might foster opposition to his rule. The sultan sends word that coffee is sacred and has the governor executed.
1600: Coffee, introduced to the West by Italian traders, grabs attention in high places. In Italy, Pope Clement VIII is urged by his advisers to consider that favorite drink of the Ottoman Empire part of the infidel threat. However, he decides to "baptize" it instead, making it an acceptable Christian beverage.
1607: Captain John Smith helps to found the colony of Virginia at Jamestown. It's believed that he introduced coffee to North America.
1645: First coffeehouse opens in Italy.
1652: First coffeehouse opens in England. Coffee houses multiply and become such popular forums for learned and not so learned - discussion that they are dubbed "penny universities" (a penny being the price of a cup of coffee).
1668: Coffee replaces beer as New York's City's favorite breakfast drink.
1668: Edward Lloyd's coffeehouse opens in England and is frequented by merchants and maritime insurance agents. Eventually it becomes Lloyd's of London, the best-known insurance company in the world.
1672: First coffeehouse opens in Paris.
1675: The Turkish Army surrounds Vienna. Franz George Kolschitzky, a Viennese who had lived in Turkey, slips through the enemy lines to lead relief forces to the city. The fleeing Turks leave behind sacks of "dry black fodder" that Kolschitzky recognizes as coffee. He claims it as his reward and opens central Europe's first coffee house. He also establishes the habit of refining the brew by filtering out the grounds, sweetening it, and adding a dash of milk.
1690: With a coffee plant smuggled out of the Arab port of Mocha, the Dutch become the first to transport and cultivate coffee commercially, in Ceylon and in their East Indian colony - Java, source of the brew's nickname.
1713: The Dutch unwittingly provide Louis XIV of France with a coffee bush whose descendants will produce entire Western coffee industry when in 1723 French naval officer Gabriel Mathieu do Clieu steals a seedling and transports it to Martinique. Within 50 years and official survey records 19 million coffee trees on Martinique. Eventually, 90 percent of the world's coffee spreads from this plant.
1721: First coffee house opens in Berlin.
1727: The Brazilian coffee industry gets its start when Lieutenant colonel Francisco de Melo Palheta is sent by government to arbitrate a border dispute between the French and the Dutch colonies in Guiana. Not only does he settle the dispute, but also strikes up a secret liaison with the wife of French Guiana's governor. Although France guarded its New World coffee plantations to prevent cultivation from spreading, the lady said good-bye to Palheta with a bouquet in which she hid cuttings and fertile seeds of coffee.
1732: Johann Sevastian Bach composes his Kaffee-Kantate. Partly an ode to coffee and partly a stab at the movement in Germany to prevent women from drinking coffee (it was thought to make them sterile), the cantata includes the aria, "Ah! How sweet coffee taste! Lovelier than a thousand kisses, sweeter far than muscatel wine! I must have my coffee."
1773: The Boston Tea Party makes drinking coffee a patriotic duty in America.
1775: Prussia's Frederick the Great tries to block imports of green coffee, as Prussia's wealth is drained. Public outcry changes his mind.
1886: Former wholesale grocer Joel Cheek names his popular coffee blend "Maxwell House," after the hotel in Nashville, TN where it's served.
Early 1900's: In Germany, afternoon coffee becomes a standard occasion. The derogatory term "KaffeeKlatsch" is coined to describe women's gossip at these affairs. Since broadened to mean relaxed conversation in general.
1900: Hills Bros. begins packing roast coffee in vacuum tins, spelling the end of the ubiquitous local roasting shops and coffee mills.
1901: The first soluble "instant" coffee is invented by Japanese-American chemist Satori Kato of Chicago.
1903: German coffee importer Ludwig Roselius turn a batch of ruined coffee beans over to researchers, who perfect the process of removing caffeine from the beans without destroying the flavor. He markets it under the brand name "Sanka." Sanka is introduced to the United States in 1923.
1906: George Constant Washington, an English chemist living in Guatemala, notices a powdery condensation forming on the spout of his silver coffee carafe. After experimentation, he creates the first mass-produced instant coffee (his brand is called Red E Coffee).
1907: In less than a century Brazil accounted for 97% of the world's harvest.
1920: Prohibition goes into effect in United States. Coffee sales boom.
1938: Having been asked by Brazil to help find a solution to their coffee surpluses, Nestle Company invents freeze-dried coffee. Nestle develops Nescafe and introduces it in Switzerland.
1940: The US imports 70 percent of the world coffee crop.
1942: During W.W.II, American soldiers are issued instant Maxwell House coffee in their ration kits. Back home, widespread hoarding leads to coffee rationing.
1946: In Italy, Achilles Gaggia perfects his espresso machine. Cappuccino is named for the resemblance of its color to the robes of the monks of the Capuchin order.
1969: One week before Woodstock the Manson Family murders coffee heiress Abigail Folger as she visits with friend Sharon Tate in the home of filmmaker Roman Polanski.
1971: Starbucks opens its first store in Seattle's Pike Place public market, creating a frenzy over fresh-roasted whole bean coffee.
1979: Mr. Cappuccino opens for business!