History of Coffee

It all started with a cheerful goat!

A popular Ethiopian legend says coffee is discovered by a herder named Kaldi, who found his goats full of energy after eating the red fruit of the coffee shrub.


Coffee cultivation and trade began on the Arabian Peninsula and by the 16th century, it was known in Persia, Egypt, Syria, and Turkey. Ottoman Turks introduced coffee to the glorious power center of Constantinople. Historians believe that rapidly emerging coffee shops of Constantinople have been the first ones in this part of the world. These places quickly became hotspots for vibrant discussions and political debates of eminent patrons. While drinking coffee, they would listen to music, watch performers or play chess.  Evolving into essential centers for the exchange of information, coffee places were soon named Schools of the Wise.

17th Century

The 17th century was a golden era of coffee all around Europe. Coffee houses were quickly becoming centers of social activity in the major cities of Italy, England, Austria, France, Germany and Holland.

17th Century Style Coffeehouse

Although adored by many consumers across the globe, things didn’t always go smoothly. The local clergy condemned coffee when it came to Venice in 1615, calling it the bitter invention of Satan. Pope Clement VIII was asked to intervene to solve the controversy. However, after tasting the beverage, he was so enchanted that he gave it papal approval with no second thoughts.

In 1650 the first coffee house in all of England opened near the University of Oxford where curious students consumed it for both pleasure and energy boost – two years later the first coffeehouse welcomed its visitors in London.

Modern Day Coffee

If you ever visit Paris, having a perfect sip of coffee in the city’s most iconic and oldest café, Café Procope is a must! The Italian Francesco Procopio dei Coltelli opened it back in 1686 as the first literary coffee shop in the City of Lights. The table of Voltaire, antique and magnificent, still greets impressed visitors.

Did you know? Coffee mania became so intense that in 1668 coffee will overtake beer as New York City’s favorite breakfast beverage!

In the late 1800s, coffee turned into a worldwide commodity, so entrepreneurs began looking for new ways to profit from it. In 1864, John and Charles Arbuckle, brothers from Pittsburgh, began selling pre-roasted coffee in paper bags by the pound. This is how, straight from the factory in New York, the Arbuckle Ariosa became the first mass-produced coffee sold all over the country.

Launch of Espresso

The twentieth century introduced stellar events in the history of coffee. 

Italian Luigi Bezzera patented the first commercial espresso machine in 1901 and 37 years later, coffee guru Max Morgenthaler and his team invented Nescafe. It took them seven years of research to find a way to produce a quality cup of coffee that could be made simply by adding water while retaining the natural flavor.

Many names have marked the rich history of this blissful drink and among them, another to remember – Achille Gaggia! By using a piston in the espresso machine to extract the brew at a higher pressure, he created a layer of soft crema on the coffee. Oh Gosh! This is how, in 1946, the Cappuccino was born! 

Schematics of first espresso machine, by Achille Gaggia, as we know it today.

Due to its terroir and complexity of flavors, coffee has become a genuine artistic trade. Today, small independently-owned cafes are slowly taking over the market, offering locally roasted, fair-trade beans, writing the next chapter of the history we all belong to.

What will the future of coffee look like?