Coffee is a brewed drink with a distinct aroma and flavor, prepared from roasted coffee beans, the seeds found inside "berries" of the Coffea plant. Coffee plants are cultivated in over 70 countries, primarily in the equatorial regions of the Americas, Southeast Asia, India and Africa. The two most commonly grown are the highly regarded arabica, and the less sophisticated but stronger and more hardy robusta. The latter is resistant to the coffee leaf rust, Hemileia vastatrix, but has a more bitter taste. Once ripe, coffee beans are picked, processed, and dried. Green (unroasted) coffee beans are one of the most traded agricultural commodities in the world. Once traded, the beans are roasted to varying degrees, depending on the desired flavor, before being ground and brewed to create coffee.
Coffee is slightly acidic (pH 5.0 - 5.1) and can have a stimulating effect on humans because of its caffeine content. It is one of the most popular drinks in the world. It can be prepared and presented in a variety of ways. The effect of coffee on human health has been a subject of many studies; however, results have varied in terms of coffee's relative benefit. The majority of recent research suggests that moderate coffee consumption is benign or mildly beneficial in healthy adults. However, the diterpenes in coffee may increase the risk of heart disease.
Coffee cultivation first took place in Southern Arabia; the earliest credible evidence of coffee-drinking appears in the middle of the 15th century in the Sufi shrines of Yemen. In the Horn of Africa and Yemen, coffee was used in local religious ceremonies. As these ceremonies conflicted with the beliefs of the Christian church, the Ethiopian Church banned the secular consumption of coffee until the reign of Emperor Menelik II. The beverage was also banned in Ottoman Turkey during the 17th century for political reasons,and was associated with rebellious political activities in Europe.
Coffee is a major export commodity: it was the top agricultural export for twelve countries in 2004, the world's seventh-largest legal agricultural export by value in 2005, and "the second most valuable commodity exported by developing countries," from 1970 to circa 2000. Further, green (unroasted) coffee is one of the most traded agricultural commodities in the world. Some controversy is associated with coffee cultivation and its impact on the environment. Consequently, organic coffee is an expanding market.
The traditional method of planting coffee is to place 20 seeds in each hole at the beginning of the rainy season. This method loses about 50% of the seeds' potential, as about half fail to sprout. A more effective method of growing coffee, used in Brazil, is to raise seedlings in nurseries that are then planted outside at six to twelve months. Coffee is often intercropped with food crops, such as corn, beans, or rice during the first few years of cultivation as farmers become familiar with its requirements.
Of the two main species grown, arabica coffee (from C. arabica) is generally more highly regarded than robusta coffee (from C. canephora); robusta tends to be bitter and have less flavor but better body than arabica. For these reasons, about three-quarters of coffee cultivated worldwide is C. arabica. Robusta strains also contain about 40 - 50% more caffeine than arabica. Consequently, this species is used as an inexpensive substitute for arabica in many commercial coffee blends. Good quality robusta beans are used in traditional Italian espresso blends to provide a full-bodied taste and a better foam head (known as crema).
However, Coffea canephora is less susceptible to disease than C. arabica and can be cultivated in lower altitudes and warmer climates where C. arabica will not thrive. The robusta strain was first collected in 1890 from the Lomani River, a tributary of the Congo River, and was conveyed from Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of Congo) to Brussels to Java around 1900. From Java, further breeding resulted in the establishment of robusta plantations in many countries. In particular, the spread of the devastating coffee leaf rust (Hemileia vastatrix), to which C. arabica is vulnerable, hastened the uptake of the resistant robusta. Coffee leaf rust is found in virtually all countries that produce coffee.
Over 900 species of insect have been recorded as pests of coffee crops worldwide. Of these, over a third are beetles, and over a quarter are bugs. Some 20 species of nematodes, 9 species of mites, several snails and slugs also attack the crop. Birds and rodents sometimes eat coffee berries but their impact is minor compared to invertebrates.]In general, arabica is the more sensitive species to invertebrate predation overall. Each part of the coffee plant is assailed by different animals. Nematodes attack the roots, and borer beetles burrow into stems and woody material, the foliage is attacked by over 100 species of larvae (caterpillars) of butterflies and moths.
Mass spraying of insecticides has often proven disastrous, as the predators of the pests are more sensitive than the pests themselves. Instead, integrated pest management has developed, using techniques such as targeted treatment of pest outbreaks, and managing crop environment away from conditions favouring pests. Branches infested with scale are often cut and left on the ground, which promotes scale parasites to not only attack the scale on the fallen branches but in the plant as well.
The 2-mm-long coffee berry borer beetle (Hypothenemus hampei) is the most damaging insect pest to the world's coffee industry, destroying up to 50 percent or more of the coffee berries on plantations in most coffee-producing countries. The adult female beetle nibbles a single tiny hole in a coffee berry and lays 35 to 50 eggs. Inside, the offspring grow, mate, and then emerge from the commercially ruined berry to disperse, repeating the cycle. Pesticides are mostly ineffective because the beetle juveniles are protected inside the berry nurseries, but they are vulnerable to predation by birds when they emerge. When groves of trees are nearby, the American Yellow Warbler, Rufous-capped Warbler and other insectivorous birds have been shown to reduce by 50 percent the number of coffee berry borer beetles in Costa Rica coffee plantations
The earliest credible evidence of either coffee drinking or knowledge of the coffee tree appears in the middle of the 15th century, in the Sufi Muslim monasteries around Mocha in Yemen. It was here in Arabia that coffee seeds were first roasted and brewed, in a similar way to how it is now prepared. By the 16th century, it had reached the rest of the Middle East, Persia, Turkey, and northern Africa. Coffee seeds were first exported from Ethiopia to Yemen. Yemeni traders took coffee back to their homeland and began to cultivate the seed. The first coffee smuggled out of the Middle East was by Sufi Baba Budan from Yemen to India in 1670. Before then, all exported coffee was boiled or otherwise sterilised. Portraits of Baba Budan depict him as having smuggled seven coffee seeds by strapping them to his chest. The first plants grown from these smuggled seeds were planted in Mysore. Coffee then spread to Italy, and to the rest of Europe, to Indonesia, and to the Americas. A coffee can from the first half of the 20th century. From the Museo del Objeto del Objeto collection.
In 1583, Leonhard Rauwolf, a German physician, gave this description of coffee after returning from a ten-year trip to the Near East:
"A beverage as black as ink, useful against numerous illnesses, particularly those of the stomach. Its consumers take it in the morning, quite frankly, in a porcelain cup that is passed around and from which each one drinks a cupful. It is composed of water and the fruit from a bush called bunnu."
- Leonard Rauwolf
From the Middle East, coffee spread to Italy. The thriving trade between Venice and North Africa, Egypt, and the Middle East brought many goods, including coffee, to the Venetian port. From Venice, it was introduced to the rest of Europe. Coffee became more widely accepted after it was deemed a Christian beverage by Pope Clement VIII in 1600, despite appeals to ban the "Muslim drink." The first European coffee house opened in Rome in 1645.
A 1919 advertisement for Washington's Coffee. The first instant coffee was invented by inventor George Washington in 1909.
The Dutch East India Company was the first to import coffee on a large scale. The Dutch later grew the crop in Java and Ceylon. The first exports of Indonesian coffee from Java to the Netherlands occurred in 1711.
Through the efforts of the British East India Company, coffee became popular in England as well. Oxford's Queen's Lane Coffee House, established in 1654, is still in existence today. Coffee was introduced in France in 1657, and in Austria and Poland after the 1683 Battle of Vienna, when coffee was captured from supplies of the defeated Turks.
When coffee reached North America during the Colonial period, it was initially not as successful as it had been in Europe as alcoholic beverages remained more popular. During the Revolutionary War, the demand for coffee increased so much that dealers had to hoard their scarce supplies and raise prices dramatically; this was also due to the reduced availability of tea from British merchants, and a general resolution among many Americans to avoid drinking tea following the 1773 Boston Tea Party.
After the War of 1812, during which Britain temporarily cut off access to tea imports, the Americans' taste for coffee grew. Coffee consumption declined in England, giving way to tea during the 18th century. The latter beverage was simpler to make, and had become cheaper with the British conquest of India and the tea industry there. During the Age of Sail, seamen aboard ships of the British Royal Navy made substitute coffee by dissolving burnt bread in hot water.
The Frenchman Gabriel de Clieu took a coffee plant to the French territory of Martinique in the Caribbean, from which much of the world's cultivated arabica coffee is descended. Coffee thrived in the climate and was conveyed across the Americas. The territory of Santo Domingo (now the Dominican Republic) saw coffee cultivated from 1734, and by 1788 it supplied half the world's coffee. The conditions that the slaves worked in on coffee plantations were a factor in the soon to follow Haitian Revolution. The coffee industry never fully recovered there. It made a brief come-back in 1949 when Haiti was the world's 3rd largest coffee exporter, but fell quickly into rapid decline.
Meanwhile, coffee had been introduced to Brazil in 1727, although its cultivation did not gather momentum until independence in 1822. After this time massive tracts of rainforest were cleared for coffee plantations, first in the vicinity of Rio de Janeiro and later Sao Paulo. Cultivation was taken up by many countries in Central America in the latter half of the 19th century, and almost all involved the large-scale displacement and exploitation of the indigenous people. Harsh conditions led to many uprisings, coups and bloody suppression of peasants. The notable exception was Costa Rica, where lack of ready labor prevented the formation of large farms. Smaller farms and more egalitarian conditions ameliorated unrest over the 19th and 20th centuries.
Coffee has become a vital cash crop for many developing countries. Over one hundred million people in developing countries have become dependent on coffee as their primary source of income. It has become the primary export and backbone for African countries like Uganda, Burundi, Rwanda, and Ethiopia, as well as many Central American countries.
Coffee was initially used for spiritual reasons. At least 1,100 years ago, traders brought coffee across the Red Sea into Arabia (modern-day Yemen), where Muslim dervishes began cultivating the shrub in their gardens. At first, the Arabians made wine from the pulp of the fermented coffee berries. This beverage was known as qishr (kisher in modern usage) and was used during religious ceremonies.
Coffee drinking was prohibited by jurists and scholars (ulema) meeting in Mecca in 1511 as haraam, but the subject of whether it was intoxicating was hotly debated over the next 30 years until the ban was finally overturned in the mid-16th century. Use in religious rites among the Sufi branch of Islam led to coffee's being put on trial in Mecca: it was accused of being a heretical substance, and its production and consumption were briefly repressed. It was later prohibited in Ottoman Turkey under an edict by the Sultan Murad IV.
Coffee, regarded as a Muslim drink, was prohibited by Ethiopian Orthodox Christians until as late as 1889; it is now considered a national drink of Ethiopia for people of all faiths. Its early association in Europe with rebellious political activities led to Charles II outlawing coffeehouses from January 1676 (although the uproar created forced the monarch to back down two days before the ban was due to come into force).Frederick the Great banned it in Prussia in 1777 for nationalistic and economic reasons; concerned about the price of import, he sought to force the public back to consuming beer. Lacking coffee-producing colonies, Prussia had to import all its coffee at a great cost.
A contemporary example of religious prohibition of coffee can be found in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The organization holds that it is both physically and spiritually unhealthy to consume coffee. This comes from the Mormon doctrine of health, given in 1833 by founder Joseph Smith in a revelation called the Word of Wisdom. It does not identify coffee by name, but includes the statement that "hot drinks are not for the belly," which has been interpreted to forbid both coffee and tea.
Quite a number of members of the Seventh-day Adventist Church also avoid caffeinated drinks. In its teachings, the Church encourages members to avoid tea and coffee and other stimulants. Abstinence from coffee, tobacco and alcohol by many Adventists has afforded a near unique opportunity for studies to be conducted within that population group on the health effects of coffee drinking, free from confounding factors. One study was able to show a weak but statistically significant association between coffee consumption and mortality from ischemic heart disease, other cardiovascular disease, all cardiovascular diseases combined, and all causes of death.
For a time, there had been controversy in the Jewish community over whether the coffee seed was a legume and therefore prohibited for Passover. Upon petition from coffeemaker Maxwell House, the coffee seed was classified in 1923 as a berry rather than a seed by orthodox Jewish rabbi Hersch Kohn, and therefore kosher for Passover.
Widely known as coffeehouses or cafes, establishments serving prepared coffee or other hot beverages have existed for over five hundred years. Various legends involving the introduction of coffee to Istanbul at a "Kiva Han" in the late 15th century circulate in culinary tradition, but with no documentation.
Coffeehouses in Mecca became a concern as places for political gatherings to the imams who banned them, and the drink, for Muslims between 1512 and 1524. In 1530 the first coffeehouse was opened in Damascus. First coffeehouses in Constantinople was opened in 1475 by traders arriving from Damascus and Aleppo. Soon after, coffeehouses became part of the Ottoman Culture, spreading rapidly to all regions of the Ottoman Empire. A barista at work in a North American coffeehouse
In the 17th century, coffee appeared for the first time in Europe outside the Ottoman Empire, and coffeehouses were established and quickly became popular. The first coffeehouses in Western Europe appeared in Venice, as a result of the traffic between La Serenissima and the Ottomans; the very first one is recorded in 1645. The first coffeehouse in England was set up in Oxford in 1650 by a Jewish man named Jacob in the building now known as "The Grand Cafe". A plaque on the wall still commemorates this and the Cafe is now a trendy cocktail bar. By 1675, there were more than 3,000 coffeehouses in England.
After the second Turkish siege of Vienna in 1683, the Viennese discovered many bags of coffee in the abandoned Ottoman encampment. Using this captured stock, a Polish soldier named Kulczycki opened the first coffeehouse in Vienna.
In 1672 an Armenian named Pascal established a coffee stall in Paris that was ultimately unsuccessful and the city had to wait until 1689 for its first coffeehouse when Procopio Cuto opened the Cafe Procope. This coffeehouse still exists today and was a major meeting place of the French Enlightenment; Voltaire, Rousseau, and Denis Diderot frequented it, and it is arguably the birthplace of the Encyclopedie, the first modern encyclopedia. America had its first coffeehouse in Boston, in 1676. Coffee, tea and beer were often served together in establishments which functioned both as coffeehouses and taverns; one such was the Green Dragon in Boston, where John Adams, James Otis and Paul Revere planned rebellion.
The modern espresso machine was invented in Milan in 1945 by Achille Gaggia, and from there spread across coffeehouses and restaurants across Italy and the rest of Europe and North America in the early 1950s. An Italian named Pino Riservato opened the first espresso bar, the Moka Bar, in Soho in 1952, and there were 400 such bars in London alone by 1956. Cappucino was particularly popular among English drinkers.Similarly in the United States, the espresso craze spread. North Beach in San Francisco saw the opening of the Caffe Trieste in 1957, which saw Beat Generation poets such as Allen Ginsberg and Bob Kaufman alongside bemused Italian immigrants. Similar such cafes existed in Greenwich Village and elsewhere.
The first Peet's Coffee & Tea store opened in 1966 in Berkeley, California by Dutch native Alfred Peet. He chose to focus on roasting batches with fresher, higher quality seeds than was the norm at the time. He was a trainer and supplier to the founders of Starbucks.
The international coffeehouse chain Starbucks began as a modest business roasting and selling quality coffee beans in 1971, by three college students Jerry Baldwin, Gordon Bowker and Zev Siegl. The first store opened on March 30, 1971 at the Pike Place Market in Seattle, followed by a second and third over the next two years. Entrepreneur Howard Schultz joined the company in 1982 as Director of Retail Operations and Marketing, and pushed to sell premade espresso coffee. The others were reluctant, but Schultz opened Il Giornale in Seattle in April 1986. He bought the other owners out in March 1987 and pushed on with plans to expand from 1987 to the end of 1991, the chain (rebranded from Il Giornale to Starbucks) expanded to over 100 outlets. The company has 16,600 stores in over 40 countries worldwide.
South Korea experienced almost 900 percent growth in the number of coffee shops in the country between 2006 and 2011. The capital city Seoul now has the highest concentration of coffee shops in the world, with more than 10,000 cafes and coffeehouses.
A contemporary term for a person who makes coffee beverages, often a coffeehouse employee, is a barista. Though the title is not regulated, baristas may be trained in numerous methods of brewing, and may be knowledgeable about or involved in the production of coffee at every stage, from bean to cup.