Coffee (drink)


January 27, 2022

Coffee is usually a hot drink, prepared from water and the dried and roasted seeds of the coffee plant (Coffea spp.), which are called coffee beans because of their shape. Coffee contains the stimulant caffeine. Most species in the genus Coffea are native to tropical Africa and the islands of the Indian Ocean. They have their origin in Ethiopia, Yemen and Sudan. The coffee bean is an important export product of countries around the equator, such as Brazil, Vietnam and Colombia. Coffee plants are mainly cultivated on plantations in tropical countries, for export to countries with a temperate climate. Along with knowledge of the drink, the plant spread from tropical Africa to North Africa, the Middle East and Europe from the 15th century onwards. Since the 19th century, the main producers and exporters of coffee beans have been located in the tropical regions of South and Central America, Africa and Asia. The most commonly grown species are Coffea arabica (arabica) and C. canephora (robusta). Coffee is consumed in many cultures. The drink is, as far as the taste is concerned, bitter and slightly sour and is therefore sometimes supplemented with milk and/or sugar. Coffee is also used as a seasoning in pastries, cakes and ice cream. Moderate consumption is said to have a beneficial effect on health.

Discovery and cultivation

Origin and distribution

Coffee was probably first noticed by humans in the Kingdom of Kaffa (c. 1390-1897), which is now in Ethiopia. Here it was called buna, bunn or bunchum, which means 'bean'. There are several legends about the discovery of coffee as a drink. One of these is about a shepherd named Kaldi. He saw that his goats became very excited after eating certain berries. The shepherd picked some of them, boiled them and obtained an infusion with a hitherto unknown odor. That drink was bitter, but it also gave a sense of satisfaction and clarity of mind. Another story tells of a Sufi scholar from Yemen who traveled to Kaffa and turned the berries into a drink. Coffee would then have replaced wine as a religious drink. There is also a story of a cleric who was exiled to the desert from the Yemeni port city of Mocha, who decided to cook the berries of a coffee plant because of hunger. The drink was noticed by Arab traders as well as by the famous Persian doctor Avicenna. In all likelihood, Arabs initiated the cultivation of coffee plants. Despite attempts at secrecy and enforcing an export ban, coffee soon became popular in most Muslim countries. The port city of Mokka became the main distributor from where the coffee was transported to Egypt and Syria. The type of coffee mocha is named after this city. Both Muslim clerics and Ethiopian Christian clerics have banned the drink because of its stimulant and addictive effect. These bans are always undone over time. The first European coffeehouse is said to have opened in 16th-century Venice, but it's not clear who made it happen.

Cultivation in Dutch and French colonies

At the instigation of the mayor of Amsterdam Nicolaas Witsen, the commander of Malabar, Adriaan van Ommen, sent some coffee plants to his colleague at the VOC branch in Batavia. These were planted on the Kedawoeng plantation in Batavia, but this harvest failed, after which the cuttings brought from Malabar by Henricus Zwaaydecroon in 1699 did yield a good harvest. The first coffee samples and a coffee plant were shipped to Amsterdam in 1706. The seeds of the plant were further cultivated in the botanical garden of Amsterdam and sent from there to other European countries. The Dutch grew coffee for export on plantations in Celebes and Sumatra, making the Netherlands the first commercial coffee exhibition

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