The History of Coffee in a Nutshell… or Two

It’s become the most popular drink worldwide; the first drink in the morning, the drink when having a catch-up with a friend, an energy booster… coffee. Since it’s discovery, coffee rapidly became the hot drink (and often cold drink) of choice across the globe.

But have you ever, maybe when sat drinking from a cup of the delicious beverage, wondered what the history of coffee is? Well to satisfy your intrigued mind, we’ve shared the history of coffee with you below. We’ve tried to keep it short, as the title says “in a nutshell, or two”. So grab a cup of tea (or coffee; it’s more relevant) and have a read.

Where It All Began: 1000 AD

A picture of coffee berries

The history of coffee all began with a tribe in Ethiopia pre-1000 AD. To give them a boost of energy, the tribe ground up coffee berries and mixed them with animal fat to eat. Later in 1000 AD, Arab traders brought back coffee to their homeland and cultivated it. Coffee beans would be boiled to make “qahwa” which translates to “that which prevents sleep”.

15th - 17th Century

Moving ahead in the history of coffee, in 1475 the first ever coffee shop opened; it was in Turkey and was named Kiva Han. A law was also established in Turkey which allowed women to divorce their husband if they failed to provide them with their daily coffee fix.

In 1600, Italian traders introduced coffee to the West; soon after, The Pope chose to “baptise” coffee which made it an accepted Christian drink. 45 years later, the first coffee house opened in Italy. Shortly after, in 1651 the first coffee house was opened in England. Coffee houses soon multiplied and were referred to as “penny universities” as the price of a cup of coffee was 1p. In 1668, coffee replaced beer as the breakfast drink of choice in New York City. The first coffee house in Paris opened in 1672. The first Viennese coffee shop opened in 1683.

18th - 20th Century

A black and white picture of Pike Place Public Market in Seattle

The 18th-20th centuries is the time in the history of coffee where you see the growth really start to boom.

1721: first coffee shop opened in Berlin

1825: coffee introduced to Hawaii

1887: Tonkin, Indo-China introduced to coffee

1896: coffee comes to Queensland, Australia

Other stand-out moments in this period of the history of coffee include:

In 1773, The Boston Tea Party made it a patriotic duty in America to drink coffee. The cafetiere was invented in 1841 by Elizabeth Dakin. In the early 1900s, Germany made a tradition to have afternoon coffee. In the year 1900, Hills Bros introduced the concept of packing coffee in vacuum tins. A year later, Japanese-American Chemist, Satori Kato, invented the first soluble “instant” coffee. Decaf coffee was introduced in 1903 when a German importer, Ludwig Roselius, gave ruined beans to researchers to experiment with. In 1906, George Constant Washington, an English Chemist living in Guatemala at the time, was the first to mass-produce instant coffee, which was named “Red E Coffee”.

In 1927, the first espresso machine was used in the US. Nestle produced freeze-dried coffee in 1938 and soon developed the brand “Nescafe”. In 1946, the first ever cappuccino was made. The first Starbucks store was opened in 1971 in Pike Place Public Market in Seattle.

21st Century

A picture of a modern coffee machine

By the 21st century, coffee has become the most popular drink across the globe, with approximately 500 billion cups of coffee being drunk annually worldwide. It now tops agricultural exports for 12 different countries. In 2012, we saw the largest cup of coffee (13,200 litres) which achieved a Guiness World Record in London. In 2018, Starbucks now has way over 27,000 stores across the world.

Now that’s just a very short version of the history of coffee, but it’s definitely an interesting history, right?

At Liquid Culture, we pride ourselves in being coffee experts! We can provide a complete refreshment solution for businesses with our variety of coffee machines, vending machines and an array of different coffee products. For more information, browse our website or get in touch on 01933 670999.


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