5 Fun Facts About Coffee History You Didn't Know


If you’re reading the Cafe Joe Blog, it safe to assume you know a lot about coffee. You already know the best place to shop for coffee online. However, the history of coffee consumption is centuries long, and it's full of interesting people and events. Here are five fun facts about coffee history that you can use to impress your friends next time you're enjoying a cup of joe.

Origins of the Word “Coffee”

Though coffee production is often associated with South America, the origins of coffee go back to Ethiopia in the 8th Century. It is believed that the word "coffee” entered the English language sometime in the 16th century. Coffee is borrowed from the Italian word “caffe,” which itself comes from the Dutch word “koffie.” The Dutch term is taken from the Ottoman Turkish "kahve," which stemmed from the Arabic "qahwah," which means "that which prevents sleep." Even from the start, coffee sellers knew the drink's most marketable properties.

Riots, Bans and an Execution!

Coffee first came to Europe via Middle Eastern traders, but it wasn’t always smooth sailing for our beloved beverage. In 1511, the governor of Mecca banned coffee. The governor feared that all of the energized debate and discussion fueled by coffee could lead to opposition to his rule. He was right about coffee leading to his downfall, but for the wrong reasons. Banning coffee was extremely unpopular, and the decision led to riots and unrest. The potential revolution was resolved when the Sultan of Cairo vetoed the ban and had the governor executed. Keep the coffee drinkers in your life happy by stocking up on coffee from Cafe Joe or getting daily deliveries to your door.

The First Cup of Coffee in England

The first recorded references to coffee being brewed in England came in 1637. Nathaniel Conopios, an international student from Crete, brewed a cup of coffee while at Oxford University. While coffee did give Nathaniel the energy to stay up and cram for tricky exams, he also had a habit of dancing all night and destroying dishes. He was eventually expelled, but his exploits initiated the widespread use of coffee throughout the university. The first coffee shop in England would open 13 years later. 

Beer vs. Coffee

If you ask someone if you should drink coffee or beer with your breakfast, they may give you a funny look and suggest you attend some AA meetings. However, for a time, coffee vs. beer was a topic of much debate. In the U.S., it's believed that coffee replaced beer as the most popular beverage for breakfast in the late 1600s. In England, a push to reduce public drunkenness saw an increase in morning meetings happening at coffee shops instead of taverns. Beer makers and tavern owners pushed back by saying it wasn't proper to trust a drink from foreigners, whereas English monks had brewed beer for centuries. As coffee became more prevalent and water quality improved, it quickly became less acceptable to start your day with a hearty dose of alcohol.

Coffee and the Creation of the Webcam

You can thank (or blame) coffee for the webcam that’s on top of your computer or built into your laptop. In 1991, researchers at the University of Cambridge in England set up a camera feeding a live picture of a coffee machine. This feed allowed employees to see if the coffee pot was full or not. This early life hack saved them a trip if the coffee pot was empty. The feed became the first online webcam a couple of years later when the team connected the feed to the internet. People watched from around the world until the camera was turned off for good in 2001. By that time, there were better things to do online than watching a coffee pot. Also, one would hope the University of Cambridge had established some community rules for brewing a new pot of coffee when someone empties the previous one.

One thing every coffee drinker knows is that the quality of coffee varies greatly depending on the bean, the roast, and the retailer. You can get the best coffee available by shopping at Cafe Joe. And if you want to learn more about coffee, read this article on brewing your perfect cup of joe.


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