In the UK today we spend a larger proportion of our disposable income on coffee than at any time in history. The recent explosion in high street coffee shop franchises such as Costa and Starbucks has triggered a huge demand for freshly brewed coffee in homes and offices across the country. There are literally hundreds of different coffee makers on the market, some that are cheap but complicated to use and others that are expensive but can offer a more convenient quick fix through the use of pre-filled capsules. Whatever you chose you are going to have spend time descaling your coffee maker and, depending on your part of the country removing limescale deposits that make that 30th cup taste nothing like the first one.
So, why the fascination with coffee? Well, A little known fact…Coffee has been around for over eleven centuries and is currently the most consumed beverage in the world. Over 400 billion cups are consumed every year.
The first historical reference to coffee is made in the year 850 in Persia, yet more legendary version of the discovery of coffee go back much further in time. However, it seems most likely that the true history of coffee began in the late 6th century AD in the Caffa region of Ethiopia. Here, legends have claimed, a goat herder noticed a strange disquiet in his flock after they had eaten the berries and leaves of an odd unidentified plant. Monks from a nearby monastery heard of this phenomenon, and after various trials discovered that by roasting, grinding and infusing in water the seeds of this plant, a unique beverage could be acquired, the beverage helped to keep them awake through long hours of prayer.
It is most likely that because of this characteristic, that word and use of this drink spread amongst monasteries and was taken to Yemen. The use of coffee then spread as far as the holy cities of Mecca and Medina. The word was further spread by the great number of pilgrims from all over the world who visited these cities, tasted coffee for the first time and took it back to their own countries. The Turks pronounced it ‘qahve’ which not surprisingly became caffe, which then became café in European languages. It was the Dutch who literally brought the coffee plant to the rest of the world. They brought the first coffee plant from Yemen to Holland in 1616.
The first London coffeehouse was opened in the 17th century. These coffeehouses soon became known as ‘Penny Universities’, it was remarked that you could get an education for very little money while enjoying a coffee, just by paying attention to the great minds whom shared their voice and opinion in these shops. Coffeehouses now began to open all over the world. In 1686, the first Paris coffee house opened called 'Le Procope', and is still open today.
Top 5 Countries per capita consumption of coffee
Scandinavians are some of the biggest coffee drinkers in the world and are likely to remain that way. It is seen that because the nation’s younger generation are climbing on board the coffee wagon, the drink continues to soar in popularity through franchises such as Starbucks and Costa. Coffee has therefore been rejuvenated as a far more modern drink than tea of any of its hot beverage counterparts such as hot chocolate. Although more coffee is consumed in volume by coffee drinkers in Brazil and America, Scandinavia still tops the charts in terms of per capita consumption.