Most accounts pin the origin of the coffee plant back to Ethiopia, though there is no certain proof of this. The earliest proof of coffee being consumed by humans dates back to the 1500s, when Yemenite mystics began using it during their religious ceremonies. Caffeine helped them stay awake, which says a lot about sixteenth century Yemenite mystics’ ceremonies. Later, coffee appeared in what is today Saudi Arabia and Egypt. From there, it spread across the entire Middle East and Africa.
One of the most interesting origin stories involves a man named Omar, a Sufi disciple. He was exiled into the desert, a harrowing experience. He stumbled upon coffee at the point when he was ready to try anything to survive. Sadly, the beans were not great when chewed and were hard when roasted. However upon boiling the beans he discovered that water became a wonderful beverage. With it, he was able to survive and keep in good spirits. When people found out about the drink he had discovered, he was made a saint! Certainly, even today, many people show their praises to him every morning.
A more concrete moment in coffee’s history comes from another person who made history, Özdemir Pasha from Istanbul. As the governor of Yemen, he was afforded a big opportunity to become acquainted with coffee in Yemen, and he grew to love it. It wasn’t long before the drink reached the famous Ottoman ruler, Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent. Coffee became such a popular and significant beverage in the courts that the role of Chief Coffee Maker was soon a mainstay. The people who filled this role were loyal and tight-lipped, and many ended up as Grand Vizier (whose power was second only to the sultan).
Back in the times when coffee was a rare delicacy, it was a big deal to have a way to grow it. The spread of coffee cultivation shot up in the early 1700s. Examples of this are the Dutch giving the French a sapling they transported from their crops in Java, and a Portuguese sailor bringing coffee to Brazil from French Guyana.
Today, not only can you enjoy an amazing cup almost anywhere, you can also trade it on the futures market. Using the trading symbol KT, it is traded on the NYMEX exchange. Next time you hit the markets, pause for a sip of Joe and reflect on the history you are tasting.