Coffee is a plant that originated on the African continent, in the high regions of Ethiopia (Cafa and Enaria), where it occurs spontaneously as an understory plant. The Cafa region may be responsible for the name coffee. According to one of the “legends” of the discovery of the coffee tree, an Ethiopian shepherd was the one who noticed that some of his goats changed their behavior after using leaves of the coffee plant in their feed, influencing the behavior of monks who observed him.
From Ethiopia he was taken to Arabia. The Arabs tried to keep the privilege, because they were the first ones to cultivate this “miraculous” plant that assumed great social importance due to its use in the medicine of the time for the cure of several diseases. From Arabia, coffee was first taken to Egypt in the 16th century and soon after to Turkey. In Europe, in the 17th century, it was introduced to Italy and England. Coffee was consumed by various social classes, including intellectuals. Soon after, it started to be consumed in several other European countries, reaching France, Germany, Switzerland, Denmark, and Holland.
Following its expansion around the world, coffee reached the Americas and the United States, currently the world’s largest coffee consumer and importer. It was the Dutch who spread coffee around the world. Initially, they transformed their colonies in the East Indies into large coffee plantations and, together with the French and the Portuguese, transported coffee to America.
When did coffee come to America?
Explained by the website Potenza Coffee, which reveals the history of coffee, the American continent is a lover of this grain. The story of how coffee came about will fascinate you!
The most accepted theory about the arrival of coffee in the new world is attributed to Gabriel Mathieu de Clieu. He was an officer in the French army, in 1720 he brought a coffee plant to the island of Martinique by order of Louis XIV.
It is said that Gabriel Mathieu, on his way back to the island, faced a great storm that delayed his arrival.
Supplies ran out and water became scarce, so Marthieu shared his share of the water with the plant.
His efforts made it possible for the plant to arrive alive in Martinique, where it began to spread across the entire American continent thanks to different sailors.
One of these sailors was Nicholas Lewis, who in 1730 introduced coffee to Jamaica.
Spanish missionaries of unknown name were the ones who brought the plant to Java in 1740. It arrived in Cuba thanks to the sailor José Antonio Gelabert, in 1748.
Coffee in Brazil
In Dutch Guiana (now Suriname), seedlings were introduced from the Amsterdam Botanical Garden. It arrived in French Guiana through the Governor of Cayenne who got, from a Frenchman named Morgues, some seeds and sowed them in the orchard of his residence. From this planting, Sergeant Francisco de Mello Palheta transported to Brazil, to the city of Belém (Pará) in 1727, some seeds and still small plants. In Belém, the culture was not very widespread. In the following years it was taken to Maranhão, arriving in Bahia in 1770. In 1774 the judge João Alberto Castelo Branco brought some seeds from Maranhão to Rio de Janeiro. Then it spread through the Serra do Mar, reaching the Paraíba Valley around 1820. From São Paulo, it went to Minas Gerais, Espírito Santo and Paraná.
In Brazil, the development of culture is intertwined with the history of the country itself, due to its great economic and social importance (the “Coffee Cycle”).