History Of Coffee: Learn More About Your Favorite Beverage

The history of coffee in America remains nothing short of fascinating when you consider the beverage ranks as the third most popular drink, and beans don’t grow in the Lower 48 states. After bottled water and carbonated beverages, coffee enjoys a 12-percent consumption rate in the U.S.

According to some interesting coffee history facts, the average American drinks three cups per day, which tallies 400 million cups daily from sea to shining sea. Every day people drink coffee to perk themselves up in the morning, sip while catching up with friends, and for a wide range of other reasons. If you are curious how something primarily imported became your beverage of choice, the following history of coffee timeline, facts and legends should be enlightening.

History Of Coffee Timeline

Modern-day coffee is hot or cold brewed after the seeds of an evergreen shrub in the Coffea genus are roasted. The specific plants include Coffea Arabica and Coffea Canephora. Some linguistic hijinks were brought to the current English name. The history of coffee names involves the Dutch “koffie,” Turkish “kahve,” and Arabic “qahwa.” Some cultures consider coffee “the wine of beans” while others gave it monikers that meant “to have no appetite.”

Some accounts indicate that a Yemenite Sufi mystic called Ghothul Akbar Noor Ud Din Abu al-Hasan al-Shadhili saw lively birds feasting on berries in Yemen during the 13th Century. He tried the berries and felt invigorated after eating them. The vast majority of coffee history facts and legends trace their roots to the Yemen region.

The first recorded evidence regarding the coffee trade can be traced to the latter half of the 15th Century. Whether fact or legend, Sufi Imam Muhammad Ibn Said Al Dhabhani imported coffee products from Ethiopia to the port of Mocha in Yemen using the ships of Somali merchants. 

Other histories of coffee timeline highlights include the following.

  • An exiled disciple of Sheik Aboul Hasan Schadheli survived on coffee beans during the 13th Century while living in a cave. He boiled the beans to soften them and discovered the fragrant brown water gave him energy.
  • Sufis in Yemen drank brown beverages to improve their spiritual concentration. Its use spread from Yemen to Mecca, Medina, as well as the cities of Cairo, Damascus, Baghdad and Constantinople.
  • During the early 1500s, people in North Africa started drinking the spiritual energy drink and the first known coffee houses opened in Cairo.
  • In 1511, coffee drinking was banned by orthodox imams around Mecca because it was considered a stimulant. Like the Prohibition Era in the U.S., the ban was overturned relatively quickly, and people were free to drink coffee by 1524.

Worldwide enthusiasm for coffee drinking spread throughout the Middle East and the Ottoman Empire during the 1500s. After finding its way to Italy, coffee quickly blossomed across Europe. During this period, the Dutch began transporting Coffea Arabica and Canephora plants to the East Indies and warm regions in the Americas.

The first authentic European coffeehouse was opened in Vienna in 1683, following the two-month Battle of Vienna between the Holy Roman Empire and Ottoman Empire. Having suffered a stinging defeat, the Turkish forces abandoned vast supplies of coffee beans. These were used by the startup enterprise. Eateries that served coffee as an option had also been cropping up across the continent. In England, upwards of 3,000 opened during the late 1600s.

Coffee History Facts

It wasn’t until the 1700s that coffee landed in the Caribbean, under the care of French naval officer Gabriel de Clieu. He transported seedlings that thrived in the warm, moist climate and evolved into upwards of 18,680 coffee trees within a half-century. Coffee plants were developed in Brazil in 1727, a region that now produces among the world’s finest beans. Other fascinating coffee history facts include the following.

  • Arabs cornered the coffee market by parching and boiling exported beans, so they could not grow. Not a single coffee plant grew outside Africa and Arabia until the early 1600s as a result.  
  • The first European-owned coffee farm emerged in 1616 in Sri Lanka.
  • French growers and traders established coffee farms in the Caribbean, followed by Portuguese growers planting in Brazil, and Spaniards in Central America.

Coffee did not effectively take root in the New World until the first half of the 1700s. It became much more popular when the Colonists revolted against England and hosted the Boston Tea Party in 1773.

History Of Coffee In America

During the War for Independence, Americans considered switching from the King’s tea to coffee a patriotic duty. Civil War soldiers relied on coffee to boost their energy, and President Teddy Roosevelt is credited with the Maxwell House slogan, “Good to the last drop,” after tasting a hot beverage at Andrew Jackson’s home in Tennessee. Of course, the history of coffee in America is infused with a few legends of its own.

These days, most major cities have popular chains and local cafés that offer caffeine-based specialty coffees drinks. Drive-thru coffee remains a pre-work must, and almost every breakfast joint in America serves hot or iced coffee. According to 2021 statistical data, the U.S. has more than 24,000 coffee shops that sell upwards of 250 cups per day each. It’s difficult to imagine the history of coffee began with one person trying out bird berries, and now 10 million bags are exported globally each year.