Below is a brief history of coffee, written by my dear friend, and colleague,
A BRIEF HISTORY OF COFFEE
by Leticia Ramos
To determine when exactly coffee was first identified or consumed is pretty much impossible. It’s usual to hear the plant was discovered where Ethiopia is today, in a region called Kaffa. According to legend, the first person to recognize its properties was a ninth century goat-herder named Kaldi, who noticed that his goats, after nibbling the red “cherries” on a certain plant, became very energetic, even appearing to dance.
Maybe. Of course, since the coffee plant only needs water and a warm climate to grow so, it’s possible that coffee existed for long before that, perhaps even thousands of years; perhaps people had sporadically been drinking coffee for millennia!
What is known is that people in the Arabian Peninsula, as early as the eleventh century, were cultivating coffee plants, and later spread the culture of consuming roasted and boiled coffee.
In 1475 in Constantinople (Istanbul), the first coffee shop opened its, doors leading the way to the modern coffee shops as we know today.
Coffee culture arrived in Europe soon after, beginning in Italy and specifically Venice, then onto England, Paris, Vienna, Berlin and others cities during the fifteenth and sixteenth century. At the turn of the seventeenth century, Pope Clement VIII declared coffee a “Christian drink,” increasing its acceptance and popularity.
Coffee arrived in the Americas in the 1700s, first in the Caribbean island of Martinique, from which it spread through nearly all of Central and South America.
In 1770s, the British Government increased taxes on the price of tea–at the time the new country’s most popular beverage–resulting in revolt that was the Boston Tea Party. Afterward, the Continental Congress declared coffee as “the new national beverage” of the United States.
By the 1800s, people around the world were consuming coffee brewed (and in some cases, cooked) in many different ways. In 1822, Louis Bernard Rabaut made the prototype of the first espresso machine in France. In Italy in 1901, Luigi Bezerra patented the first espresso machine, with a boiler and four groups where the steam was forced through the coffee and into the cup.
Improvements were inevitable and welcome; espresso machine companies such as Gaggia making the first machine that used pistons, resulting in an espresso that for the first time showed crema. The first espresso machine in the United States was installed in 1927, in New York, and still can be seen there at Caffè Reggio.
According to the market research group NPD, coffee shops are one of the only expanding businesses within the restaurant industry, with the estimated number in the United States 17,000, up more than 40 percent from 1999.
Portland, Oregon ranks fifth nationally in “coffee shops per capita,” with two coffee shops per 10,000 people. It’s also in fifth place in the “top ten cities with the greatest number of coffee shops.” As for quality, Portland has an extraordinarily rich number of small-batch local roasters, and, with the possible exception of Seattle, is home to the best local coffee in the country.