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Drive down just about any street in the United States and you will spot people
holding coffee cups walking into their place of employment or just on a lazy
morning stroll. With specialty coffee shops strategically tucked in our business
districts, one would think coffee has always been in the United States, but this
ever growing trend is not an original American idea.
It is believed that the first coffee trees were found in Ethiopia. Several urban
legends surround the discovery of the coffee bean – the most familiar being a
farmer who watched his goats eating the beans, and out of curiosity, ingested
one and was impressed with the surge of energy the bean produced - but cannot be
substantiated. But what we do know is that coffee beans found its way through
the Arabian Peninsula that led to Yemen and Arabia. Yemen was the first area to
cultivate the coffee bean. From there, it made its way to Turkey, where coffee
beans were first roasted and then crushed and boiled in water, producing a very
primitive version of the coffee we drink today.
Trade merchants brought coffee to Europe, and it quickly took off. Coffee houses
popped up rampantly, and were the sites of philosophical and other intellectual
Then, in the 1700's a French captain brought a tree from Europe to the Americas,
and planted it on the Caribbean Island of Martinique. From there, coffee
consumption spread like wild fire in Central and South America.
And in the mid-1800's, Italy put its own spin on coffee by perfecting espresso
in their region. France was known for making the first espresso machine, but the
Italians found a way to add to the technology. They were the first manufacturers
of the now ever popular espresso machine, and espresso remains a significant
aspect of their culture today.
America added its own spin to coffee consumption. In the 1970's, the “coffee
revolution” was born in Seattle, WA. At that point, the latte – a coffee and
milk beverage - was created, and sought after throughout the United States. This
ingenious invention that has American buzzing around their jobs and life helped
change the quality of coffee we drink now. It has also begun to quickly spread
to other parts of the world – coffee shops and other coffee venues can be seen
just about anywhere globally – but Americans are still dubbed the largest
consumers of coffee.
Today, coffee is one of the largest world commodities – it falls second to
petroleum world-wide. The coffee industry employs over 20 million people, 5
million alone in Brazil. Coffee industry workers cultivate and harvest over 3
billion plants all over the world – which helps support the approximately 400
billion cups of coffee consumed each year. In the United States, the coffee
industry pulls in annual revenues of over a billion.