The origin of coffee….

…How It All Began and What Coffee Is Today

The following compilation of information that we’ve learned over the years and stuff we’ve pulled from coffee trade zines and blog posts.

The exact origins of how coffee trees were discovered may never be determined for sure. Legends say it all began in the 9th century in the highlands of Ethiopia, where Kaldi, a goat farmer, first discovered the coffee tree. He stumbled upon coffee after noticing that his goats were eating berries from a certain tree and then became so spirited they did not want to sleep at night.

Kaldi reported his findings to an abbot at the local monastery who made a drink with the berries and discovered that it kept him alert for long hours. As the abbot shared his discovery with other monks, the knowledge of these berries began to spread East, and eventually across the globe.

Today coffee is grown in a multitude of countries around the world. Whether it is Asia or Africa, Central or South America, the islands of the Caribbean or Pacific, all can trace their heritage to the trees in the ancient coffee forests on the Ethiopian plateau.

Coffee beans grow within the boundaries of the Tropic of Cancer and Capricorn. These regions provide moderate sunshine and rain, steady temperatures, and rich porous soil, all necessities for growing superior coffee beans. The top coffee producers today are as follows: Brazil, Vietnam, Indonesia, Colombia, India, Ethiopia, Peru, Guatemala, Mexico, and Honduras. Volume wise, it is the second highest traded commodity on the international market behind crude oil.

Ranking at number one, Brazil is responsible for a third of the all coffee production in the world, mostly Arabica beans. Brazil has held this number one spot for the last 150 years. Vietnam has the French to thank for their coffee bean exports, which makes up about 14% of the market. Indonesia has been growing coffee beans, especially Arabica, since colonial times. Arabica beans coming from Indonesia have a strong body with low acidity. They blend well with coffees from Central America and East Africa, such as our classic Mocha Java blend!

While Colombia began producing coffee beans in the early 18th century, their exports did not pick up until later in the 19th century. Most of the coffee trees throughout Colombia grow in the foothills of the Andes Mountains, the flavor profile of these beans are very mild and some of the best beans one can buy. India, known as one of the oldest origins of coffee plants, is unique in that beans here are grown in the shade rather than sunlight.

Next, the birthplace of the Arabica style coffee bean, Ethiopia, is the largest coffee producer on the continent of Africa. Approximately 12 million Ethiopian people earn a living from producing coffee. Peru is famous for producing specialized, organic, mostly Arabica beans and Guatemala produces some the world’s best coffees, which can be attributed to the suitable temperatures and climate conditions that exist in this region. It is said that coffee came into Mexico from Antilles at the end of the 18th century, and the country has evolved into one largest sources of U.S. coffee imports. Lastly, at number ten on our list, Honduras. Its economy is very much dependent on its coffee plantations and a large amount of its population is involved in this business. Much like Guatemala, the climate and other conditions that are required for the coffee beans to be produced are perfect here.