The Odyssey of Coffee: From Origin to Your Cup
Origin of Coffee Beans
Coffee was discovered in Ethiopia during the 11th century, in a region known as 'Kaffa', from which it gets its name. The story goes that a goat herder named Kaldi found his goats extremely energized after eating berries from a particular tree. He reported his findings to the local monastery that decided to brew a drink from these berries, which kept them awake during long prayer hours.
The advantages of this energizing drink didn't remain a secret for long. Word spread to the Arabian Peninsula, and the Yemeni traders started growing coffee by the 14th century. By the 15th century, coffee was being cultivated commercially.
Where Coffee Beans Come From
Coffee is a tropical plant that requires specific conditions to grow. It thrives best in an environment with abundant rainfall, temperatures between 60-70 degrees Fahrenheit, and no frost.
Today, coffee plants are cultivated in over 70 countries worldwide, predominantly in the equatorial region. The world's leading coffee-producing countries are Brazil, Vietnam, Colombia, Ethiopia, and Honduras.
Brazil holds the title of the largest coffee producer globally, contributing about a third of the entire world's production. This is a position it has held for the last 150 years! Brazil mainly grows Arabica coffee, which is known for its sweet, soft taste and pleasant acidity.
Before the late 1800s, Vietnam was almost unheard of in the coffee industry. However, under French colonization, coffee production surged, and today, Vietnam stands as the second-largest coffee producer, primarily producing the Robusta variety. Vietnamese coffee is known for its strong flavor and a slight chocolatey aftertaste.
Colombia's geography provides perfect conditions for producing top-quality coffee. The volcanic soil, rain, altitude, and shade from the sun allow for the production of Arabica beans, which are exceptionally smooth and mild-flavored.
As the birthplace of coffee, Ethiopia has a unique place in the coffee world. Its diverse coffee plant species produce distinctive flavors. The beans are typically processed naturally, contributing to their fruity and wine-like quality.
Where Coffee Beans Grow
Coffee grows on trees that are usually pruned to maintain a height of less than 8 feet for easy picking. These coffee trees bear cherry-like fruits, which turn deep red when ripe, the perfect time to be handpicked. Each cherry usually contains two coffee beans.
The primary coffee plant varieties, Arabica and Robusta, have different growing conditions. Arabica plants thrive at higher altitudes, between 2,000 to 6,000 feet, while Robusta plants can tolerate lower altitudes and warmer temperatures.
The journey of coffee beans, from being discovered in Ethiopia and then traveling across continents to reaching our coffee mugs, is truly fascinating. It takes a lot of human effort and nature's handiwork to create the diversity of flavours we coffee lovers enjoy. So, the next time you sip a cup of coffee, take a moment to appreciate the journey that has brought this delightful brew to your cup.