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A brief history of coffee: how coffee beans win the world

Throughout human history, coffee has been a diabolical drink, a spiritual narcotic, or an erotic stimulant. Despite many ups and downs, it is extremely popular today, in all corners of the world.

A rumour about coffee, goats and an abbot

The story of the discovery and wandering of coffee is a kind of mirror of a changing world – it is a story of faith, slavery, smuggling, but also love and community. Although there are several gaps in its timeline, they can be easily filled thanks to the facts and countless legends about coffee.

One of the oldest and probably the most famous stories about the discovery of coffee and its effects dates back to the 9th century. It is the story of the goat shepherd Chaldi, who, while grazing in Ethiopian pastures, noticed that when the goats ate the berries of a certain bush, they were unusually alert and active.

wandering shepherd with a herd of goats
The legend of the shepherd and the goats that tasted coffee beans from the coffee tree is one of the oldest ones.

When Chaldi later shared his knowledge with the local abbot, he had the first coffee extract brewed from the leaves and berries. However, there are other versions of this story – in one of them, the abbot considered coffee cherries to be the work of the devil, so he threw them into the fire. In another one, the berries were so hot that the abbot reluctantly threw them into the embers, creating the first roasted coffee.

From legends to facts: where did the coffee beans come from?

Coffee as a drink was discovered at least 1000 years ago, but no one can say for sure where its cradle is. It is generally believed that coffee came to Yemen and Arabia along with African slaves.

oriental man sitting at the table
Before the coffee beans were roasted, they used to make various extracts and teas from cherries and coffee leaves.

Long before coffee beans began to be roasted, ground and used in the preparation of today’s world-famous drink, coffee cherries were used with leaves for their stimulating effects in various decoctions.

Did you know that…? African shepherds mixed coffee beans with fat and spices to make the first energy bars. These provided them with a sufficient supply of nutrients and energy for a long period outside their homeland.

In the 15th century, Muslim Ascites and mystics again made quishr (also known as “Arab wine”). It was a tea made of coffee cherries, which, thanks to its stimulating effects, helped them stay awake during night prayers.

serving coffee in tin containers
The best quality coffee was always served in coffee houses

Orient, merchants and the first European cafe

News of the stimulating effects of coffee began to spread very quickly, opening the door to various retailers. Drinking coffee has spread to the world sooner than its cultivation. It was the Orient, more specifically the Arabian Peninsula, where the first cafés with a special atmosphere were established. They celebrated the greatest success in Turkey, but the most magical ones arose around Mecca and Medina.

Did you know that…? The governor of Mecca banned the drinking of coffee in 1511 because he feared that his opponents would criticize his government and form the opposition over a cup of coffee.

historical painting of Pope Clement VIII
Thanks to Pope Clement VIII today we can enjoy coffee with peace of mind

From the Orient, coffee drinking later spread to Europe and the rest of the world. Italy was a pioneer in Europe, specifically Venice, where in 1720 the first European café Florián was established, which still operates today.

Coffee is such a delicious drink – we should outwit the devil by baptizing it.

Pope Clement VIII.

However, the arrival of coffee in Italy was initially associated with conflicts. The church itself called coffee the devil’s work until Pope Clement VIII tasted it and decided to declare it a true Christian drink.

How did coffee beans get into our territory?

One of the oldest mentions of coffee in our territory comes from our Czech neighbours. It refers to the first café equipment, which belonged to a certain Arab named Jiří Deodat and consisted of a bucket, a ladle and several cups. He brewed coffee at home in a bucket in which it was mixed with cane sugar and wandered the streets of Prague. When he acquired the burgher law in 1714, he founded the historically first café in Prague.

Did you know that…? In the 17th century, honourable women, unlike prostitutes, were forbidden to enter cafés. For this reason, in 1674, the Women’s Petition Against Coffee was created, by which women tried to prevent their husbands from constantly sitting in cafes.

the oldest Italian café Florián
The first Italian café, Florián, which was founded in 1645, still operates today

The establishment of the first cafes in Bratislava was strongly influenced by life in Vienna and Budapest, which were the centres of the social and intellectual life. In the cafés, townspeople, artists, merchants and intellectuals met to discuss current and hot topics with a cup of good coffee.

The position of coffee in modern history

In the middle of the last century, many cafés had to be closed because they were considered a bourgeois experience. The return to typical café life began only after the Gentle Revolution, and today coffee is once again experiencing a boom. This is mainly associated with the growing interest of people in quality roasted coffee and in learning about its taste profiles.

wooden tray with arranged coffee beans
Colombia Supremo – quality coffee beans with nutty aroma and tones of milk chocolate

Although Brazilian coffee is one of the best known today, more and more people in our country and around the world are beginning to be interested in other types of coffee. Although caramel coffee or hazelnut coffee still predominates in the popularity of taste tones, African coffees, which are more fruitful, are also beginning to attract more and more attention.

Would you like to taste such coffee too?

So try one of our more fruity varieties.

  • Ethiopia Dimtu Tero

    Sweet single coffee characterized by fruity tones of blueberries, wild strawberries and flowers.

  • Kenya Tekangu Tegu

    Lightly roasted select coffee that will enchant you with fresh tones of grapefruit, flowers and raspberries.