The history of coffee dates back to the 15th century, and possibly earlier with a number of reports and legends surrounding its first use. The native (undomesticated) origin of coffee is
thought to have been Ethiopia, with several mythical accounts but no solid evidence. The earliest substantiated evidence of either coffee drinking or knowledge of the coffee tree is from the early
15th century, in the Sufi monasteries of Yemen, spreading soon to Mecca and Cairo. By the 16th century, it had reached the rest of the Middle East, South India (Coorg), Persia, Turkey, Horn of
Africa, and northern Africa. Coffee then spread to the Balkans, Italy and to the rest of Europe, to South East Asia and then to America, despite bans imposed during the 15th century by religious
leaders in Mecca and Cairo, and later by the Catholic Church.

The first coffeehouses began in Mecca and soon spread throughout the Arab world. The idea of coffeehouses, where anyone could go to discuss culture and conduct business for the price of a coffee, flourished in Venice, Paris, London and North America in the 1600’s. This culture is still alive and well today with billions of cups of coffee being enjoyed worldwide every day.

To protect this valuable export, Arabian leaders banned the export of fertile beans. Eventually, a pilgrim named Baba Budan smuggled some viable seed berries out of the country, then returned to his home in India sometime during the 17th Century. The first coffee plant to be taken to Europe was stolen by Dutch traders in 1616 via the port of Mocha in Yemen. The Dutch then set up plantations throughout their colonies of Ceylon, Java, Timor, Sumatra, Celebes and Bali. In time coffee was also produced in the West Indies, Latin America, Jamaica, India and Brazil, which today produces over 60% of the world’s coffee production.

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