The first reference to coffee was by Homer, namely in the fourth book of the Odyssey, which refered to it as a drink with unusual properties. The origin of coffee is placed geographically in the Middle East and dates back to 800 AD. Coffee was first used in Ethiopia by nomadic people and warriors of the tribe Galla. The Arab traders were the ones who first spread coffee across the Muslim world during the 14th century as a substitute for alcoholic spirits. It was introduced to Europe through Venice some centuries later.
"Botteghe del Caffe", a meeting point for intellectuals and artists, is considered to be the creator of modern coffee in the 17th and 18th century; a cup of hot coffee accompanied the political and social discussions that took place at the Caffe.
Coffee was also found in Habsburg Empire; bags of coffee were discovered in the defeated by the Ottoman siege Vienna in 1683.
In the 18th century coffee spread throughout the Italian peninsula. After the Second World War coffee became available to the general public and cafés and industrial production started. Today 2000 coffee roasters can be found in Italy.
Let's look at the chronological appearance and spreading of cafés.
- 1645 the first café opens in Venice
- 1672 the first Gran Café opens in Paris
- 1700 Coffee making know-how is exported from Arab countries to the world
- 1720 The infamous Café Florian opens in Venice; it is the European example of the modern coffee shops
- 1723 France introduces the coffee expertise in the West Indies
- 1727 Portugal exports its know-how of coffee to Brazil
- 1730 England introduces its coffee expertise in Ceylon, Jamaica, Cuba and Central America.
- 1730 Spain introduces the coffee know-how in Colombia
The coffee tree or the Coffea Arabica is a genus of flowering plants of the Rubiaceae family, which includes 40 species most of which are grown in Africa. They are evergreen shrubs or small trees which do not exceed a height of 2 to 4 meters. Their leaves are large, ovate or oblong with straight or wavy edges and resemble those of the laurel. Brown or white flowers bloom on the coffee tree; their smell resembles that of jasmine. The fruit takes 6 to 7 months to mature following the shedding of the petals.
The coffee fruit is a stone fruit; it is cherry-like, juicy and fleshy and contains two seeds. Each seed is surrounded by a thin and hard endocarp and a thin membranous lining. Initially the fruit has grey-green colour; then yellow and turns red when ripe. The key ingredient is the alkaloid caffeine, which has stimulant properties.
The most known types of Kaffa are:
Coffea Arabika: Originates in Ethiopia, however there are plantations in Central and Latin America, and South Africa, the Arabian peninsula and generally in Asia.
Coffea Robusta: It can be found mainly in East Africa and in some parts of Asia. It grows in lower altitude areas and is more resistant to disease. It contains more caffeine and it is cheaper to buy.