Coffee is a very important and valuable crop in many countries and a drink that is enjoyed around the world. For many people, it is hard to imagine beginning a day without a hot cup of coffee. But coffee is not a drink only for the beginning of the day, and it is not even something that people always drink hot. Today, people enjoy coffee all day long, and they enjoy it hot, cold, in ice cream, and in a lot of other forms.

First Uses of Coffee

Portrait of a woman wearing robes

Despite how popular coffee is today, historians still aren't totally sure exactly when and where people starting using coffee. People seem to have started eating the beans from the coffee plant hundreds of years ago, but it is not clear why they started turning to the coffee plant as food. One story says that an Ethiopian goatherd noticed his goats being more alert and active after eating coffee beans, so he decided to try them for himself. When he did, he felt more awake, too. Whether this story is true or not, most historians agree that Ethiopia was one of the first places where coffee was grown and eaten. It was often mixed with animal fat to form a high-energy food. Because the caffeine in coffee beans gives people energy, many early people sought out coffee to use as medicine.

History of Coffee

The use of coffee in Ethiopia as a food happened before the year 1000, but it wasn't until the 1400s that coffee was roasted and turned into a drink. This happened in the Arabian Peninsula. From there, coffee began to spread to other Middle Eastern countries. As contact between the Islamic world and Christian Europe increased, coffee was introduced to Europeans. Coffee entered Europe through Italy, where the pope endorsed it around 1600, allowing it to take root among Roman Catholics. Later, Protestants drank it as well. By the mid-1600s, coffee was a popular drink in Great Britain, and it spread to the American colonies, where it wasn't very popular at first. But after the American Revolution and especially after the War of 1812, American demand for coffee grew. During these centuries, coffee-growing also spread to Latin America and other places where European countries had colonies. Today, the top coffee-producing country is Brazil, and coffee is an important source of income for many developing countries.

Where Does Coffee Come From?

Coffee grows in tropical and subtropical climates, so places that are south of the equator are great spots for growing the coffee plant. The fruits of the coffee plant, which look sort of like cherries, are picked and dried. Once they are inspected, the beans are roasted and then ground up. Boiling water is added, and the water soaks up the color, flavor, and caffeine from the ground-up beans. The liquid is filtered, and then it is ready to drink or to be cooled and used in other foods or drinks.

Coffee Today

People still drink and enjoy coffee all over the world today. Many people start their day by drinking a cup of coffee. In fact, coffee is so popular that people have given it a lot of nicknames. Someone might ask another person if they want a "cup of joe" or a "cup of java," for example, when they are serving coffee. Coffee is often served at social gatherings such as company meetings and parties. The popularity of coffee over time also led to the opening of coffee shops, which are places where people enjoy getting together to drink coffee, talk, play games, and just relax. You can also see how popular coffee is when you watch movies or TV. For example, on the TV show Friends, many scenes took place in a coffee shop called Central Perk. The coffee business keeps growing today, with people always finding new ways to drink it and enjoy its flavor, so it looks like it will stay popular for a long time to come.