History of Coffee

Ethiopian Coffee Service at Embassy in Washington, DC

There are a lot of myths in coffee’s history – but here’s the truth….Coffee originates in Ethiopia, where its consumption can be traced to the Middle Ages. It was widely enjoyed by Sufi clerics who shared it with their brethren who were visiting from Yemen. 

At the Residence of the Yemeni Ambassador to US

The Yemenis took the plant back to their country where they tried diligently to grow it. Unfortunately, the harsh terrain and lack of natural irrigation made it much more difficult to cultivate there. The Yemenis had to develop their own means of irrigation and farming in order to yield a successful crop. Eventually, their coffee actually became known for it’s smooth, chocolate like flavor. The coffee was traded in the port town of Al Mukha on an international scale and was coveted by the Dutch. When the Europeans couldn’t get the coffee from Yemen, they would actually add chocolate to whatever coffee they had on hand and call it “mocha” after the Yemeni port.

The Masjid al Haram in Mecca, Saudi Arabia 

In the 17th century, Yemeni Sufis traveled to Mecca to make the annual pilgrimage and gave a taste of their drink to some Egyptian Sufis. The Egyptians took it back home and used it to stay awake during their all night remembered vigils called zikr.

Egyptian “Turkish” Coffee with Cardamom

The Ottomans, who ruled Egypt at the time, knew that this special drink could become the drink of the masses and began exporting it to Europe under the label “The Wine of the Arabs”. And that is how the term “Turkish Coffee” came to be known. 

In 1638, coffee traveled to Venice, and became popular with the Courtesans.Today coffee is the world’s most widely consumed beverage and the second largest trading commodity in global business!

Arabian Coffee service with dates in Abu Dhabi


To learn more about Ethiopian coffee culture and etiquette, see : Coffee Culture: A Taste of Inclusion! 

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