Coffee is a staple part of our daily lives, but have you ever wondered who first discovered it? What made someone think to roast and brew the beans to create the first cup of coffee? How did the plants end up in so many countries? Below we’ll answer these questions and more about coffee beans background, and give thanks to the pioneers who created the long history behind our favourite drink.
Who discovered coffee?
Unravelling the mystery might not be as straightforward as you think if you’re interested in coffee beans background. There are a few different stories about the origin of coffee. One legend attributes its discovery to a goat herder in Ethiopia who discovered coffee when he noticed his goats became excited after eating the beans from a coffee plant.
Another legend attributes its discovery to Sheikh Omar, who was once exiled from Mocha to a cave near Ousab. Suffering from starvation, Omar ate the berries from a coffee plant but found them to be very bitter. He roasted them to try to improve the flavor but they became too hard to eat. He finally tried boiling them to soften them again, which resulted in a fragrant brown liquid. The liquid perked Sheikh Omar up and sustained him for days. As news spread of his discovery, he was invited to return to Mocha where he was made a saint, which seems like a fair reward for the person who discovered coffee.
Coffee’s early days
We have to look all the way back to the 15th century, just a little while before the availability of coffee beans in Dublin, for the first recorded use of coffee, when Sufi circles employed the drink to help them stay awake for religious ceremonies. Throughout history, the coffee beans background includes stories of medicinal use.
Regardless of the individual who discovered coffee, by the 16th century it had spread throughout the Middle East. We have to thank Sufi Baba Budan for bringing coffee to the rest of the world, as he is credited as being the first person to smuggle 7 coffee seeds out of the Middle East, by strapping them to his chest.
Upon his arrival in India in the year 1670, the first plants were grown from these smuggled seeds. Coffee spread from here to Italy, Indonesia, the Americas, and the rest of Europe. This is a crucial part of the coffee beans background story, as this spread coffee throughout the world.
An early traveller to the Near East from Germany, Leonard Rauwolf, described a ‘beverage as black as ink’ that was often consumed in the morning. He said it was a treatment for many illnesses, particularly those of the stomach. He described it as being composed of water and the fruit from a bush called bunnu.
In recent times, coffee production has spread to more than 70 countries. This is largely driven by the continued increase in coffee consumption in the developed world.
What type of coffee beans are the best?
There are two main types of coffee beans, Arabica and Robusta. While these aren’t the only types of beans in existence, they are the only two used for the mass production of coffee.
Arabica: Accounting for over 60% of the world’s coffee production, Arabica is the current champion of coffee beans. Its popularity may well stem from the fact its plants are so easy to harvest and require little attention. Despite it being easy to harvest, it’s one of the more delicate beans and can be easily influenced by environmental factors.
The quality of Arabica beans varies, with higher quality beans having a brighter body and satisfying amount of acidity. Many people attribute multi-layered flavours and aromas to them. For home brewing a full body and low acidity bean often produces the best results. Blue Mountain, Bourbon, Typica, and Caturra are all varietals of Arabica beans, and give you some idea of just how varied the coffee beans background is.
Robusta: Despite being practically immune to disease (hence the name), the Robusta bean still only comes in second as the most produced coffee. Robusta beans generally contain more caffeine, which give it a heavier body. Higher quality Robusta beans often have hints of chocolate associated with the flavour. Robusta that’s grown in unsuitable climates produces a lower quality product, which often gives the coffee a rubbery taste and flat smell.
Robusta’s stronger flavour can mean it retains more of its taste for coffee drinkers that like to add cream or sugar.
Which coffee bean and varietal you prefer is usually down to a matter of personal taste. We would recommend experimenting with different beans, brewing methods, and regions, in order to find the flavour you love the most.
Get In Touch For Further Advice
You don’t need to be a coffee connoisseur to be interested in the different varieties available in Dublin. You don’t even need to be interested in coffee beans background and history. Simply get in touch with us to discuss how you can enjoy an even better cup. If you’re unsure of anything or have any queries at all, remember at CoffeeClick we are coffee lovers too, and we’re always happy to help. Whether you want to know the attributes of a coffee, or the best type of brewing method to suit your preferences, our coffee enthusiasts will be able to guide you in the right direction.
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