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The Humble Beginnings Of The Devilish Beverage From Ethiopia Called “Coffee”

Do you realize the intricate and varied history of coffee as you sip on a cup of coffee? There is a long and entertaining story of how coffee was invented, how it migrated to your particular cup and an unending effort to produce the many flavors of coffee that continue to make it such a popular beverage.

Each country has added its taste preference and its own way of brewing as coffee spread around the world. This has resulted in a plethora of coffee drinks for us all to savor and enjoy. The unique customs across cultures has also added to this ritual of drinking coffee.

Where is your favorite coffeehouse? Coffeehouses became very popular as news about the magical powers of coffee spread from Ethiopian shepherds and monks in Ethiopia to all corners of the world.

Despite the popularity of the coffeehouses, they were at times deemed immoral. They were accused of drawing men away from their obligations to their homes and religious beliefs. Coffee drinking was even forbidden periodically because of these evils. However, the bans on coffee drinking did not last long due to the strong appeal of the pleasurable drink. The suppression of coffee drinking based on religious and political grounds was only a moment in time and coffee became a universal drink in the Arab lands. Coffee was eventually considered a moral and sober alternative to wine and spirit drinks. Coffee became a household word and was adopted into social customs as a featured beverage.

In Arabia, coffee was thrown at the feet of the bride as a religious offering. In the country of Turkey, coffee became a staple in the home. Failure to keep a supply of coffee for one’s wife in the home was considered grounds for divorce in Turkey.

As travelers from Europe returned home they brought with them tales of the exotic coffee beverage. Coffee was regarded by some Westerners as the devil’s hellish brew. Despite this horrible reputation of coffee for some Westerners, it became a Christian drink with the blessing of Pope Clement VIII who loved the taste of coffee.

For centuries coffee distribution was controlled by the Arabs. They held a tight and zealous monopoly on the cultivation of the coffee plant until the 17th century. In the 17th century Dutch traders managed to steal some viable seeds and started commercial plantations in Indonesia.

It was not long until a French officer under the rule of King Louis XIV felt that the coffee plants should grow equally well in the French colonies of the West Indies. Gabriel Mathieu de Clieux and a gardener stole a cutting from a coffee plant in King Louis XIV’s botanical gardens. He planted the cutting in a glass trunk and sat sail for the West Indies. His journey was not easy. More than once Clieux placed his life on the line for his precious cargo. He fought off a Dutch spy who managed to tear off one of the plant’s limbs. He shared his ration of water with the plant when all the sailors were near to perishing of thirst. Clieux finally arrived at the island of Martinique and this one single plant started commercial coffee plantations that successfully rivaled the plantations of the Dutch. It is ironic to note that the initial cutting was taken from the coffee plant that was given to King Louis XIV as a gift from the Dutch!

King Louis XIV had a passion for coffee and enjoyed preparing it for guests in his golden coffeepot. After plantations started in Martinique a few years later a young Portuguese officer from Brazil charmed the French governor’s wife in French Guiana. She secretly saved some coffee cuttings to present to him as a token of her love for him. The Portuguese officer planted the cuttings in Brazil and began what are now the largest coffee plantations in the world.

Re-post courtesy of © 2007 Connie Limon All Rights Reserved

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