Do you know the many origin stories of our beloved coffee bean? Here is a quick Kathryn version of some of my favourite coffee folklore.
Likely in Ethiopia somewhere around the year 1000, the first cup of coffee was created. A goat herder found his goats were so energized they were dancing after eating some mysterious red berries (coffee beans before they are dried and roasted look like berries). This goat herder took the berries to his local monk who promptly decided he did not approve and chucked them into the fire. A little dramatic, bro! But, soon an irresistible smell rose from that fire, and that Monk wanted to ingest those unholy berries. They added water and the first, though I’m sure quite gritty, cup of coffee was enjoyed.
When you think of where coffee beans grow, you might think of a few places, Ethiopia, Mexico, Yemen…and maybe Brazil? Well, Brazil didn’t always grow coffee. They needed to get their hands on some seeds first. Super slick stud Francisco de Melo Palheta was sent on a secret agent mission to acquire those unholy berry seeds in the 1770’s. The story goes that he went to French Guiana and successfully seduced the governor’s wife who sent him home with a bouquet secretly filled with coffee seeds. While those seeds were successfully planted, it would take almost 100 more years for Brazil to become a leader in coffee cultivation.
England vs. Coffee
Coffee shops rose in popularity in the 1600 and 1700’s for a few reasons; mainly it allowed for people of all classes and occupations to commune and share ideas. However, in many European countries during this time only men were able to enter. French Philosoper, Émilie du Châtelet even dressed as a man to gain entry into her local Paris coffee shops and get in on those juicy conversations.
Coffee shops were never as popular in England as the rest of Europe. In the mid 1600’s, Queen Catherine’s drink of choice was tea which influenced high society greatly. Additionally, tea was super easy to make at home and cheaper than the high maintenance coffee bean. A huge deal when you're not actually allowed to step inside a coffee making establishment.
But the funniest part; there was British propaganda created by ‘The Womens Petition Against Coffee’ published in 1674 which had many scandalous claims including coffee caused all sorts of impotence. I mean, hit ‘em where it hurts ladies!
In the early 1600’s Pope Clement VIII was asked to publicly condemn coffee. Many Catholic people thought coffee was ‘of the devil’ because Muslim people drank it to stay awake during long prayer sessions. He tasted the tempting beverage and said, “This Satan's drink is so delicious that it would be a pity to let the infidels have exclusive use of it”. He then blessed the drink because it was “better for people than alcoholic beverages” and even started the tradition of Coffee Hour.