The History of Coffee

Coffee is the second most traded commodity in the world behind oil. It’s discovery and spread throughout Africa, the Middle East and eventually the entire world has changed mornings for billions of people. They look forward to rising, drinking their coffee and giving their day a jumpstart.

For how popular and ubiquitous it is, you may think coffee has been around for thousands of years—but that’s not the case. If you’re wondering, “How old is coffee?” or “When was coffee discovered?” this article will aim to answer those and other questions.

Dancing goats of Ethiopia

Legend has it that in the 9th century, an Ethiopian goat herder named Kaldi witnessed his goats running, jumping and “dancing” around, filled to the brim with energy. He noticed that they’d been snacking on certain red berries of a particular bush.

Kaldi tried the berries himself, felt the effects and brought the berries to a nearby monastery, where a monk threw them into the fire with disdain. The berries burned in the fire and emitted a pleasant smell that attracted other monks, and the first ever roasted coffee was born.

The Middle East and Asia

From Ethiopia, traders brought coffee across the Red Sea to Yemen in around the 15th century. The port of Mocha was where coffee beans first arrived in Yemen, and that’s why that particular word is associated with coffee.

Before long, coffee plants were being grown and cultivated in Yemen. The surrounding nations of Egypt, Turkey and Persia became infatuated with coffee, and coffee houses began springing up all around the Middle East, serving as social gathering spots.

Traders and religious people making pilgrimages from India and Pakistan became exposed to the beverage tabbed the “wine of Araby,” and they brought back the plant and their taste to their homelands. Coffee also eventually spread west into Europe.


Sailors and adventurers from Europe also spoke about this new beverage they’d tasted, and before long, in the 17th century, coffee was becoming well known and beloved throughout the European continent. By the middle of the 17th century, there were over 300 coffee houses open in the city of London alone, with many more springing up in Austria, the Netherlands, Germany and France.

These coffee houses were hubs of intellectual discussion and social communication, with many like-minded coffee drinkers flocking to the establishments to talk and sip their coffee.


The middle of the 17th century also saw coffee make its way to America, first landing in present-day New York City. While coffee slowly gained a foothold in the United States, it wasn’t until the Boston Tea Party of 1773 that it really took off in earnest.

American colonists revolted against a heavy tax on imported tea levied by King George III, and drinking tea from that point forward was deemed unpatriotic. Many Americans switched to coffee and never looked back.

Worldwide spread

With some effort and determination, seedlings were brought around the world to grow the coffee plant, with mixed amounts of success.

The Dutch grew coffee plants on the islands of Java and Sumatra in Indonesia, and the French grew coffee plants in Martinique, the Caribbean islands and South America, kickstarting a billion-dollar industry that is still thriving today.

Call to discuss your coffee needs today

Now you’ll know the answer to the question, “When was coffee invented?” It was in the 15th century. There’s a reason coffee has thrived for so long! Give us a call at Armstrong Coffee Services, so we can bring the magnificent taste of the world’s most popular beverage to you and your business.

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