The Origins Of Coffee

The Origins Of Coffee

Posted by David Bromley on

Coffee is one of the most traded products in the world and is one of the most popular drinks, but where did coffee come from and how did it become so popular?

The first discovery of coffee

There have been numerous stories and legends about where the coffee plant came from. What is known for sure is that the wild coffee plant (Coffea arabica) is an indigenous plant from Ethiopia, where it was discovered around 850 AD.  The Robusta coffee plant in contrast, was thought to be discovered much more recently, around 1870, in the Congo basin. This means Africa can be considered to be the birthplace of human life and coffee!

The first commercial plantation

Soon after the discovery of the Arabica coffee plants, cuttings from the plants were taken, some plants were then transported from Ethiopia to Yemen. For the next few hundred years up until the end of the 14th century, these plants were cultivated by the Arabians who had become the sole provider of coffee for at least 100 years. During this time coffee had become a sought-after commodity; commercial plantations were soon established after the plants arrived in nearby India, Sri Lanka, Java and Indonesia.

Coffee arrives in Europe & the Americas

By the 17th Century a Dutch trader had transported coffee to Europe. These original plants were cultivated to ensure that new crops could be grown. The Dutch also gifted the French King a coffee plant of his own. Soon after, French, Spanish and British colonies around the globe had access to coffee plants and beans, it didn’t take long for these colonies to establish coffee plantations of their own. These colonies had officially introduced coffee to the Caribbean and South America.

During the 19th century, the coffee plant had been flourishing and multiplying in South America thanks to its ability to thrive in such a hot and humid climate. The climate of South America helped to establish the region but in particular Brazil, as the leading producer of coffee in the world.

Coffees global reach

By the end of the 19th century coffee had become available throughout the world. Coffee had become the drink of choice and this increase in demand drove technological advancements in the growing, roasting and brewing process; finally reaching practices that we recognise today. This continued demand for coffee has established coffee as one of the most commonly traded commodities in the world, quite an accomplishment for a simple coffee bean!

If this story of the coffee bean has sparked your interest. Then you can find out more about our own range of high-quality coffee beans and coffee machines, get in touch here. 


Folmer B (2016) “The Craft and Science of Coffee”

Pendergrast M (2010) “Uncommon Grounds: The History of Coffee and How it Transformed Our World”

National Coffee Association (N.D) “The History of Coffee” Available Here: (

World Atlas (N.D) “The World’s Largest Exporters of Coffee” Available Here  (