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July 28, 2020

Coffee and History

The journey of coffee into our lives today.

Coffee is a brewed drink prepared from roasted coffee beans, the seeds of berries from certain Coffee species. When coffee berries turn from green to bright red in color – indicating ripeness – they are picked, processed, and dried.


Coffee is one of the most popular drinks in the world, and can be prepared and presented in a variety of ways (e.g., espresso, French press, caffè latte). It is usually served hot, although iced coffee is common.

Clinical research indicates that moderate coffee consumption is benign or mildly beneficial as a stimulant in healthy adults, with continuing research on whether long-term consumption reduces the risk of some diseases, although some of the long-term studies are of questionable credibility.

The earliest credible evidence of coffee-drinking as the modern beverage appears in modern-day Yemen in southern Arabia in the middle of the 15th century in Sufi shrines where coffee seeds were first roasted and brewed in a manner similar to how it is now prepared for drinking. Coffee plants are now cultivated in over 70 countries, primarily in the equatorial regions of the Americas, Southeast Asia, the Indian subcontinent, and Africa. As of 2018, Brazil was the leading grower of coffee beans, producing 35% of the world total.

By the 16th century, coffee had reached the rest of the Middle East, Persia, Turkey, and northern Africa. The first coffee seeds were smuggled out of the Middle East by Sufi Baba Budan from Yemen to the Indian subcontinent in 1670. Before then, all exported coffee was boiled or otherwise sterilised. Portraits of Baba Budan depict him as having smuggled seven coffee seeds by strapping them to his chest. The first plants grown from these smuggled seeds were planted in Mysore. Coffee had spread to Italy by 1600, and then to the rest of Europe, Indonesia, and the Americas.

A frappé coffee, Greek frappé, Nescafé frappé, or just frappé is a Greek iced coffee drink made from instant coffee (generally, spray-dried Nescafé), water, sugar, and milk. The word is often written frappe (without an accent). The frappé was invented through experimentation by Dimitris Vakondios, a Nescafe representative, in 1957 in Thessaloniki. Frappés are among the most popular forms of coffee in Greece and Cyprus and have become a hallmark of postwar outdoor Greek coffee culture.

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