In spite of much research, no one has ever been able to positively say how coffe was discovered.We do know that Arabica coffee most likely originated in Ethiopia – see coffee history -, and that early Ethiopians chewed the green coffee beans or mixed ripe cherries with animal fats and formed into pellets.This produced a powerful food containing fats, caffeine and meat protein, which gave them great energy and stamina.
The coffee plants founds its way from Ethiopia to Arabia sometime betwees AD 570 and 850.The most likely way was through raids on Ethiopia by Arab sales traders who bought the seeds back to Arabia, or by an Arabic islamic sect known as the sufis who are best-known for their trance-inducing, highly energetic dances or’whirling dervishes’.The leader of the sect had lived in Ethiopia before returning to Yemen and setting up a monastery.
We know from manuscript colected by the French ambassador to the arab ports, a Monsieur de Nointel, that coffee was being drunk in Persia in the mid 15th century.We also have evidence that coffee trees werecultivated in monastery gardens in Yemen, and that the sufi community was most likely responsible for this.
Wine was also made from fermented ripe coffee cherries.Qahwah, the word used to describe the wine, means ‘that which excites and causes the spirits to rise’.
13th century, coffee was a crude drink made by boiling, beans and husks,however, at some stage beans were sun dried, thus increasing their storage life.Roasting – commonly done at time to improve the flavour of grains – was only a short step away.
Originally coffee was used for religious ceremonies, but once its medicinal benefits became obvious, doctors began to use it.Many claims were made about its benefits.Then, once people tasted coffee and enjoyed its flavours and effects, consumption of the drink became widespread among the general population, rather than being confined to the mosque or to healers.
By the end of the 15th centuriy, coffee drinking has spread to the citizens of the holy Mecca.From Mecca, its also spread throughout Arabia.It was further spread by Muslim armies into southern Europe, Spain, North Africa and India.
The first coffee houses were established in Persia and were described as ‘stylish and spacious’.Coffee drinking spread to Turkey as the Ottoman Empire expanded, and coffee houses were set up in Constantinople (today Istanbul).These coffee houses were impressive nd appealed to al levels of society.Coffee was also consumed in the home and became an integral part of Turkish social and domestic life.
At this stage in its development, coffee beans were roasted and boiled for around 30 minutes.The resulting strong brew was kept in vats until needed.Brewing techniques improved and developed, and coffee beans were pulverised and mixed with sugar and spices.