Coffee Facts

Coffee facts and tips

As you might imagine, at Gala Coffee Direct we’re mad about coffee. So much so in fact, that we’re sharing with you here some of the history, facts and tips about coffee which we think you’ll find interesting. So everything you ever wanted to know about coffee but were afraid to ask…

The History of Fresh Coffee

Archaeological studies suggest that the drink we now know as coffee originated in the Middle East around 800 A.D. The first actual mention of coffee in any literature was made by Homer (no, not Simpson…) in the fourth canto of the Odyssey, in which he writes about a beverage with ‘unusual characteristics’ – we can probably take from that the things we know coffee for today, like being addictive, a stimulate and keeping you awake if you drink it too late in the day. And around the year 1000, the Arab physician Avicenna wrote a passing description of the drink, but no more.

We also know that coffee was originally used in the Ethiopian highlands by nomads and warriors of the Galla tribe. Indeed, some historians claim that the word ‘coffee’ comes from the Ethiopian region ‘Kaffa’ – the natural habitat of the Arabica plant. Coffee then became a trade commodity thanks to Arab merchants, who, in the 14th century, distributed it to much of the Muslim world as a substitute for alcoholic drinks prohibited by the Koran.

Coffee was only introduced to Europe by traders in Venice some three centuries later, and the 17th and 18th centuries saw the spread of the famous ‘Botteghe del Caffe' – the predecessor of the modern café. These were meeting places of poets, intellectuals, artists and the like, who would sit around and discuss politics and cultural matters while enjoying a cup of hot coffee. So actually not too different to some of today’s high street coffee shop customers!

The Hapsburg Empire came to know coffee when the Turkish siege of Vienna was defeated in 1683, when around 500 sacks of coffee were discovered in the enemy’s abandoned camp.

The use of coffee spread throughout Italy as of the 18th century, and even today it is not difficult to find at least one historic place in each Italian town that has some link to the original distribution of coffee.

The late 19th century saw the first ‘torrefazioni’ – businesses specialising in the roasting of coffee – who were the exclusive suppliers of the botteghe del caffe'. These roasters invented the first blends in order to give their products their own personal touch. So in this respect, early day coffee brands.

After the Second World War, the Italian coffee roasters gradually broadened distribution to the wider public and to cafés: the industrial-scale production of coffee had begun. Today, some two thousand coffee roasters of varying sizes operate in Italy alone.

Coffee history – some key dates of the early years:

  • 1645 – The first Café opens in Venice.
  • 1672 – The very first Gran Cafe' opens in Paris.
  • 1700 – Coffee plants are exported by Arab countries to the rest of the world.
  • 1720 – Cafe' Florian is opened in Venice by Floriano Francesconi, the European example of the modern coffee shop (so just ahead Starbucks…)
  • 1723 – France introduces the coffee plant to the Antilles.
  • 1727 – Portugal exports the coffee plant to Brazil.
  • 1730 – England introduces the plant to Ceylon, Jamaica, Cuba and Central America.
  • 1730 – Spain introduces the plant to Colombia.

Bookmark and Share

Quick Order
Shopping Basket
Your basket is empty.
Free Delivery
website design
Our website uses cookies. Cookies enable us to provide the best experience possible and help us understand how customers use our website.
Our site won't work without them. By continuing to use our website you accept our use of cookies. Find out more about cookies. ×