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The history of coffee

Do you know the history of coffee?

With the conquest of Egypt, the Ottomans came into possession of the coffee bean, which originated in Ethiopia. Around 1500, the Ottomans began to cultivate coffee as a beverage. In 1554, the first café opened in Istanbul - and thus on European soil. Diplomats and heads of state from all over the world got to know coffee during visits to the Ottoman Empire and took the secret of the coffee bean back to their countries. Over the centuries, coffee began its gentle triumphant march around the world - to East and West, North and South. And in the Middle Ages it also reached Italy. This is how the coffee bean came from the Ottoman culture to Sicily ...

The origin of coffee

There are legends surrounding the discovery of coffee. It is believed that the Kaffa region in southwestern Ethiopia is its area of origin, where it is mentioned as early as the 9th century. It is considered proven that coffee made its appearance in Abyssinia around 1400. Legend has it that it was discovered by shepherds whose goats were remarkably lively after feeding on the leaves and fruits of wild coffee plants.

The beginning of a great love

Coffee probably reached Arabia from Ethiopia in the 14th century through slave traders. It was probably not roasted and drunk there until around 1400. Coffee cultivation brought Arabia a monopoly position. The trading centre was the port city of Mocha (Mokka - today's al-Mukha) in Yemen. The Ethiopian method of preparation is probably the most original: the beans were roasted in a large iron pan, coarsely ground or pounded in a mortar, then boiled with water and sugar in the jabana, a bulbous clay jug, and served in small bowls - and also used as a medicine. The word "coffee" can be traced back to the Arabic qahwa, which can also refer to wine in addition to coffee.

Let's start with the name


Coffee: from Turkish kahve from Arabic qahwa for "stimulating drink" - in reference to the region of origin Kaffa. Via the Turkish kahve, it passed into Italian (caffè) and from there into French, whose word form café was adopted into German without any phonetic changes and only adapted in spelling. In the German-speaking world, the word coffee from English or Dutch initially dominated, but it was only in the course of the 18th century that coffee became established after the French café.

By the way, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe had the idea of distilling the beans. In the process, the chemist Friedlieb Ferdinand Runge discovered caffeine!

Espresso is a coffee preparation method originating in Milan in which hot water is pressed at high pressure through very finely ground coffee from roasted beans. The process produces a concentrated coffee with a dense, hazelnut-brown crema that contributes to the aroma.


9th century: first mention of coffee

1400 Coffee mentioned for the first time in Ethiopia

1450 First mention in Abyssinia

1454 According to reports by Sheikh Gemaleddin Abou Muhammed Bensaid, Mufti of Aden (Yemen), early forms of coffee plantations exist in Yemen at this time.

1500 Coffee arrives from Mecca and Medina through the Muslim strongholds to the entire Arab Empire. The Turks successfully expand the coffee business over the next 100 years.

1511 The first coffee houses are built in Mecca.

1548 Piri Reis conquers Aden, occupied by the Portuguese King John III, for the Ottoman Empire - and with it the secret of coffee.

1554 The first coffee house opens in Istanbul. Diplomats and heads of state from all over the world learn about coffee during visits to the Ottoman Empire and take the secret of the coffee bean back to their countries. Over the centuries, coffee began its gentle triumphant march around the world - to East and West, North and South. And in the Middle Ages it also reached Italy.

In 1573, Leonhard Rauwolf, a doctor from Augsburg, became acquainted with coffee in Aleppo and reported on it in 1582.

1592 Dr Prosper Albinus completes the first scientific study of coffee in Venice, bringing news of coffee consumption to Italy.

1624 The first organised coffee shipments arrive in Venice, London, Amsterdam, Hamburg and Bremen.

1625 The first espresso bar opens in St Mark's Square in Venice.

1645 The first coffee house opens in Venice.

1650 First coffee house in Oxford,

1652 in London,

1659 in Marseilles.

1672 An Armenian opens a coffee shop in St Germain.

1673 Opening of the first coffee house in Bremen.

In1689, the Sicilian Francesco Procopio dei Coltelli opens the first café in Paris.

1685 The first Viennese coffeehouse: On 17 January 1685, the Armenian Johannes Theodat, in gratitude for his courier services, is granted the privilege by the city authorities to be the only merchant in the city to sell coffee as a beverage for 20 years. He opens the first Viennese coffee house in his home on Haarmarkt, today Rotenturmstraße 14.

1700 The Arab monopoly becomes fragile. Dutchmen establish the first plantations in Ceylon, Java, Sumatra, Bali and South America. The plants come from Arabia.

1710 Coffee plants from the plantations reach Europe and are cultivated in botanical gardens there. In Amsterdam, the first coffee bush grows on European soil.

In1718, the Dutch bring coffee to Suriname,

1725 French bring the coffee to Cayenne,

1720/23 to Martinique,

1730 to Guadeloupe.

In 1727, Portuguese bring coffee plants to Brazil. African slaves work in the entire Latin American plantation economy.

1750 In Naples, espresso is mentioned for the first time.

1855 At the World's Fair in Paris, the first espresso machine is presented - a prototype.

1901 Making coffee takes too long for a Neapolitan: he develops an espresso machine in collaboration with the Milanese engineer Luigi Bezzera, who has since been considered the inventor of the espresso machine. This first Bezzera series production goes into the shops of Italy from 1901 - and soon all over the world.

1935 Steam pressure espresso machine

1986 Worldwide revenues from coffee trade: 14 billion US dollars. Coffee has long been one of the most important trade goods in the world.

Today: An average of 150 million bags of green coffee are traded worldwide every year. The largest coffee-growing country is Brazil. 70% of the green coffee grown worldwide is exported. 1.14 million tonnes of green coffee were imported to Germany in 2016. Germany is the world's largest exporter of coffee products.

Worldwide, around 25 to 30 million people work in the cultivation, processing and distribution of coffee, so together with family members, it is estimated that around 100 to 120 million people live from coffee.