The first coffee tree grew in the Kaffa region in Ethiopia (then called Abyssinia), which is in North-East Africa. The people there, called Abyssinians, initially did not drink coffee, though – they at the berries and the leaves. They also ground the beans and mixed the ground with animal fat or butter. The balls that they formed with this paste they ate for an energy boost before battle. Only later they started to grind the beans in order to make the beverage with boiled water. The sweet pulp of the berries was fermented to make wine.

Wine Of Arabia

The effect of coffee on people was similar to the intoxication by alcohol; this is why Arabs called coffee “quahwa” (wine). As drinking alcohol was forbidden in Islam, many Arabs resorted to coffee instead. “Qahwa” is probably the origin of the English word “coffee”, and in Europe coffee was called “the wine of Arabia” in its early days.

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Arab Coffee Trade

Through trade the coffee bean was introduced in other African regions (Egypt, Yemen) and then Europe. Initially the Arabs controlled the coffee trade, but when the Ottoman Turks invaded Yemen in 1536 they stated trading coffee throughout their vast empire – including Europe.

Dutch Coffee Plantations

That lasted until 1616 when Dutch explorers smuggled coffee berries from Arabia. The Dutch planted the seeds in their Indonesian colonies, including Java. As there was not enough production of coffee in those days, online the very wealthy Europians could afford to drink it.

French/Portuguese Coffee Seeds

Then the French introduced it in the Caribbean, Portugal started to grow coffee plants in Brazil (the first coffee beans were slipped into the hands of Brazilian charmer Melho Palheta by the French Governor’s wife in French Guiana) and the British grew coffee bean plants in Ceylon (India), Kenya and Uganda.