What is the first thing that comes to mind when one thinks about going out or meeting a new person?
Yes, a cup of coffee is one thing that binds everyone together and becomes an essential part in the process of beautiful memory making.
From students pulling an all-nighter during exams to couples on their first dates, coffee works the wonder all along. Yet, have you ever wondered how this sweet miracle is made? From where does it originate? And most importantly, coffee is obtained from which plant?
Well, here’s some information on the tracing of the origination of the drink that has become an essential part of our lives.
Where did it come from?
Coffee was originally found in tropical Africa, and in places like Madagascar, Mauritius near the Indian Ocean etc. What could have led coffee to grow in those places might be the ideal weather conditions that it requires. Over the years, its cultivation has expanded to various other nations, and today, more than seventy countries have their own coffee plantations.
Tracing the History
Geography traces the earliest cultivation of Coffee to countries like Sudan and Ethiopia. Nevertheless, the earliest tales of it emerging as a beverage appears in the history of Yemen, in their Sufi shrines during 15th century. It is said to have been roasted and brewed, similar to how we prepare it these days. It is also important to note that they must have been imported from Sudan and Ethiopia to Yemen. Later, the Yemenis also started cultivating their own coffee.
Coffee reaching Yemen meant that it gradually became famous amongst the powerful Middle Asians, especially in countries like Persia, Turkey etc. From there, it might have spread to Europe and then the rest of the world as part of the effects of colonization.
Myths and Legends
In modern myths and legends, various tales about the invention of coffee emerge. In one of the folklores of Ethiopia, the tribe of Oromo in the Kaffa region seems to be the first ones to discover the effects of coffee. Nevertheless, there is no direct evidence so as to prove the claim.
In another myth surfaces the story of Kaldi who was a goat herd around the 9th century. Once while on his daily duties, he noticed his goats become excited after eating a certain kind of berry. However, that story did not appear until 1671. Therefore, the claims cannot be verified.
The third legend in the list attributes the discovery of coffee to Sheikh Omar. He was known for his ability to cure the sick through means of prayer. Once, he was exiled from Yemen. As he was starving, he found some berries that he plucked and ate, but found too bitter.
Successively, he tried roasting the seeds to improve the taste, but it only resulted in it becoming hard. He then boiled the roasted seeds along with water and drank it. Immediately, he was energized and continued his mission. Coffee came to be known as the miracle drug.
Coffee, owing to its speciality, requires a lot of effort and care in its plantation and growth. There are certain specific steps that are followed during the process.
Traditionally, in each hole, 20 seeds are placed during the beginning of the rainy season. Another more effective way is to plant them in a nursery in the initial stages and then transfer them to outside after six to twelve months.
Intercropping increases the productivity of the soil. Few of the most intercropped food crops are corn, rice or beans.
As we know, it is a very labour intensive process. The best coffee beans are handpicked directly from the farm for roasting.
The beans that are at their peak of ripeness are picked, followed by two different processes- the dry process and the wet process. While in the dry process, beans are strip picked, in the wet process, fermentation comes into play to develop a milder form of coffee.
Sorting is one of the main processes as it defines the quality of the product. This process is based on the ripeness and the colour of the beans. More often than not, the berry’s flesh is removed mechanically.
The seeds are then processed for fermentation which helps in the removal of the slime-like layer present on the seed. After fermentation, the seeds are thoroughly washed using fresh water multiple times to remove any fermentation residue. Then, they are processed for drying.
coffee seeds are spread on platforms in a way that air passes through on every side of the seed. Followed by that is the mixing of the seeds, which is done by hand. They are kept for drying again.
This is done in such a manner that there is uniformity in the drying of the seeds. This method is one the traditional methods, which was overtaken by modern machinery. Nevertheless, in recent times, there has been a shift back to the traditional modes.
Followed by this, the beans are sorted and labeled by various companies and are ready for sale.
These processes owing to the large scale labour that it requires, has made the production of coffee is one of the major economic platforms, mainly for the developing countries.
Looking at the statistics of the year 2018, Brazil emerges as one of the largest producers of coffee. It produces approximately one third of the total produce in the world. Over the years, it has emerged as one of the major commodities in the world market with the uprising of companies like Starbucks and Cafe Coffee Day.
This commodity accounts for the largest agricultural export in various countries. The major trade happens for a variety of coffee called the green coffee. It is unroasted and has a typical flavour. Although there have been various concerns and criticisms related to the developed countries trade’s large-scale impact on the environment.
Nevertheless, there has been no decrease in the trade and production of this valuable produce.