No one knows exactly how or exactly where coffee was discovered, though there are many legends about its origin.

The base consensus is that is came from the Ethiopian plateau. Legends claim that a goat herder was the first to discover the potential of the coffee bean. The herder excited to share his discovery bright the news to his local monastery. It was here that a monk brewed the berries into a drink. After consumption the monk found himself alert for hours, late into the prayer hours. With this new concoction of berries, the monk shared his recipe amongst other monks and monasteries. From there the news began to spread east where it reached the Arabian peninsula and took on a whole new journey.

Once making an impact on the Arabian peninsula coffee cultivation and trade began. By the 15th century coffee was now being grown in Arabia, becoming a booming industry. By the 18th century it was being grown and traded Arabia, Turkey, Egypt, and Syria.

Mirroring our current culture of coffee shops; as the popularity of coffee continued to grow, so did the popularity of public coffee houses. The impact to social societal standards shifted, coffee houses became the hub of cities and towns. People frequented them for all types of social events; including, listening up music, enjoying performances, playing games like chess, and all local news flowed through the coffee house. As it became more and more a hub for information, coffee houses gained the nickname “School for the Wise.”

This was still only the beginning for coffee, still mostly only popular in the middle east. The holy city of Mecca would be where the coffee bean hits a whole new level of popularity. Coffee houses in Mecca became tourist hot spots for those on their pilgrimage from all over the world. Mecca had given it the name “Wine of Araby.”

When returning back to Europe, the pilgrims shared their stories of the unsually black “wine” that gives the energy of two sleeps. Some people began to become skeptical and even feared this new drink, giving it the nickname “bitter invention of Satan.” The local clergy of Venice even went as far as to ban the drink in 1615. This became such a huge contention point between the people and the church that Pope Clement VIII was asked to step in. He felt before he could make a fair and informed decision he should try the drink himself, he drank one cup and felt satisfied that it was not evil and was actually a gift God. He then gave coffee his papal approval.

The news of the controversy around coffee and church had spread through the vines of the gossip, and while many were apprehensive to try the “Devil’s Wine,” this didn’t stop it from becoming a social hub in England, France, Germany, Austria, and Holland. When first opening up in England, coffee houses would sell a cup for just one penny and engage in stimulating conversation with other coffee drinkers. This gaveway to the English nicknaming the hubs “Penny Universities.”

By the mid 16th century coffee had made it’s way to New Amsterdam, currently known as New York. While some coffee houses had began to pop-up in the New World, tea was still the primary drink of choice. It wasn’t until 1773 and the hefty tax imposed by King George III that led to the Boston Tea Party, when colonist in protest of the King decided to switch from tea to coffee. This would change the relationship between America and coffee forever.

With the contiously growing popularity of coffee and the caffeine boost it gave drinkers, people began to drink it in the mornings, ditching the current popular choices – wine and beer. Those who decided to make the switch noticed a huge difference in the day, beginning with feeling energized and alert, they also found their work ethic and quality of their work had greatly improved as well.

By the middle of the 17th century, over 300 coffee houses had opened in London alone. Each “Penny University” enticing the same type of clientele, shippers, brokers, merchants and artists. Due to the over satutration of the market many of these coffee houses eventually left the specialized coffee houses and evolved into different business, some still around today. One great example of this is the Edward Lloyd’s Coffee House, known today as Lloyd’s of London one of the largest insurance agencies in the world and one of the only agencies offering coverage globally.

With demand for coffee growing globally it became a highly competitive industry with thousands of people trying to cultivate coffee outside of Arabia. Many tried and failed, but few were eventually successful. The Dutch were one of first to succeed by the mid to later half of the 17th century they has successfully cultivated coffee in Batavia and an island known as Java, currently Indonesia. Once they found success in these environments they expanded their coffee empire to the islands of Sumatra and Celebes.

But the Dutch weren’t the only ones successful in growing coffee outside of Arabia, in 1714 the Mayor of Amsterdam gifted a small coffee plant to King Louis XIV of France. In 1723 the plant was then added to the Royal Botanical Gardens, where a Gabriel de Clieu was able to obtain a seedling from the plant. He would then face a perilous journey across the Atlantic Ocean, where he would have to overcome treacherous weather, pirate attacks, and even a saboteur who would attempt to destroy the seedling. Thanks Clieu was able to overcome each obstacle and arrived safely to the island of Martinque. Once planted on the island the coffee plant thrived. Over the next 50 years, Martinque, became home to over 18 million coffee trees. Amazing that one seedling has become the parent plant to all coffee trees in the Caribbean, Central and South America.

Brazil being one of the first in South America to start growing coffee, giving way to what is now a billion-dollar industry, it was not an easy start for them. Initially blocked from the coffee trade by the Governor of French Guiana, as the French were not willing to share this liquid gold, Francesco de Mello Palheta was the one to bring coffee to Brazil. He was only able to do this thanks to kindness of Governor’s wife, who was captivated my Francesco’s good looks and charm. While her husband has sternly declined Francesco’s request for seedlings, before departure she gifted him a large bouquet of flowers for his journey home. Unbeknownst to him in the center of the bouquet was enough coffee seedlings to begin an industry that has captivated Brazil’s economy. Currently coffee trade is still Brazil’s main economic activity and are actively the largest coffee exporters in the world.

By the 18th century coffee had become one of the most sought after crops in the world. It had made it way to every part of the globe on the backs of missionaries, travelers, teaders, and colonist. By this point millions of coffee trees had been planted, plantations were established on rugged mountains and deep in the rainforest. Some crops flourished leading to brand new millionaires, while others lost fortunes to short-lived crops. New nations were even established around the coffee economy. Today, coffee is the second most sought after commodity right behind crude oil, and it all supposedly started with a goat herder.