Coffee has been enjoyed as a beverage for a long time, having been first discovered in the 7th century. That was in the Middle East and it was not until the 16th century that it was introduced to Europe. The exact origin of coffee is a subject of debate for there are a number of stories, each with its own merits.
The most commonly believed story is that of a shepherd in East Africa (circa 700 AD) who was curious about the odd, over-active behaviour of his flock and who, on discovering it was because of red berries they’d been eating, tried them himself. Finding he was much more alert and awake than usual he went on to tell the story to a passing monk and showed him the coffee shrub. The monk took some of the berries and made a drink with them having crushed them to a powder and mixed them with hot water. The berries had the same effect on the monk as the shepherd so, on returning to his monastery, the monk shared the idea for this new, invigourating drink with his fellow monks as a remedy for staying awaker longer in prayer time. The practice of using coffee in this way soon spread … first beyond the monk’s monastery … then beyond other monasteries … and eventually beyond all boundaries, both religious and geographical.
The enjoyment of drinking coffee has endured for centuries and at the beginning of the 20th century, this enjoyment developed at a pace with the production of instant coffee and also decaffeinated coffee.
Today in the 21st century, there are many different ways to enjoy a cup of coffee. So many in fact it has become what many marketing experts refer to as a ‘lifestyle’ product …. people can now have entire conversations just about coffee! Espresso … cappuccino … latte … americano and so on.