Modern historians say that coffee was first cultivated and brewed in a province of Ethiopia called «Kaffee».
Though first cultivated and brewed in Ethiopia, coffee first gained its widespread popularity in Yemen. It is said that a Sufi grand master named Ali Ben Omar al-Shadili who came to be known as the “Saint of Mocha” brought coffee from Ethiopia to Yemen. The Saint of Mocha founded a monastery where coffee was used to keep initiates awake during nightly rituals.
Till the mid-seventeenth century no coffee had been grown outside Ethiopia and Yemen. The rulers of Yemen guarded their lucrative coffee trade and made had a maintained a monopoly on production. This monopoly did not last and soon coffee made its way into the world and coffee cultivation became widespread in South America and on the Indian subcontinent.
Coffee trading extended to Constantinople in the middle of the 15th century, and then made its way to England and Europe. Coffee Houses became such popular meeting points that King Charles II tried to ban them on the ground saying they were “seminaries of sedition.” Fortunately his efforts were in vain. Coffee then reached East and West Indies through Dutch traders. A lone surviving plant shipped on behalf of the King of France generated all the plantations of the New World.
Coffee evolved not just as a stimulating and tasty brew but also as big business and by the mid twentieth century coffee had become a hugely traded commodity second only to oil.
The coffee trade drew to a close in the nineteenth century and consumption of coffee around the world came to depend on new inventions such as instant and decaffeinated coffee, Melitta Benz’s paper coffee filter and Achille Gaggia’s espresso machine.
Despite the unromantic way that we consume coffee, thankfully, the cafe culture keeps the romance of coffee alive and kicking.
The coffee drinker has always been more passionate about his brew. In the words of Johane Sebastian Bach’s Cantata in 1732:
«Ah ! How sweet coffee tastes !
Lovelier than a thousand kisses,
Sweeter than Muscatel wine.
I must have my coffee.»
Elephant Valley coffee strives to continue this passionate tradition…