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The Ancient History of Coffee

So many legends surround the birth of coffee drinking; it's hard to really pin down when people started drinking coffee.  Most likely, it started somewhere around Yemen thousands of years ago, based on what we can learn from artifacts.  

The most entertaining and long-lasting legend is the one about the goats. The story is told that a shepherd living in the Ethiopia/Yemen area moved his goat herd to a place where there were coffee trees.  Being goats, they naturally ate everything in sight.  The shepherd noticed that his goats got frisky when they ate the berries off the coffee trees.  So he decided to cook and eat some himself. He liked the energized feeling he got.  And coffee drinking began.


Another interesting thing about the origins of coffee is the way religion got involved right from the start.  One of the places where archeologists find evidence of brewing coffee was in monasteries in Yemen.  Later it is found throughout the Middle East, South India, and then spreading to Europe.  


Another of the legends surrounding the origins of coffee involves a holy man named Omar who lived in Mecca and was known for healing people.  For some reason, he was banished to a cave outside the city.  When he grew hungry, he tried eating berries he found.  Being too chewy, he boiled them and drank the liquid.  He felt re-energized and survived his banishment.  People believed Omar survived because of the miracle beans he found, and Omar was made a saint. 


Another religious legend originated in the Middle East as well.  Islamic legends say that the prophet Muhammad brought coffee to the people to replace wine because Islam forbids wine. During the Muslim celebration of Ramadan, coffee is believed to help people fast during the day.  

In the 15th century, religious leaders in Mecca and Cairo banned coffee because it was a stimulant.  Later the Catholic Church banned it.  Even today, the Morman Church teaches that caffeine cannot be consumed.  

The Americas

It was inevitable that coffee would eventually find its way to the Americas.  In 1720 explorers brought coffee seedlings to Martinique in the Caribbean islands.  From there, coffee cultivation spread to other Caribbean islands, and Haiti, and to Mexico.  

By 1788 Saint Domingue supplied half of all the coffee consumed in the world. Unfortunately, the French colonial plantations used slave labor to produce the coffee on their vast plantations.  Eventually, the slaves rebelled in what is now known as the Haitian Revolution. Nowadays, very little coffee is grown in Haiti.

Where Coffee Comes From Today

Today about half of the coffee that is consumed in the United States comes from Latin America.  We import about 25% from Brazil and about 22% from Honduras.  We import a smaller amount from Vietnam and Honduras.  

Specialty organic coffee like Boomi coffee comes from Asian producers, specifically India.  In India, Boomi coffee is grown in the shade in the higher elevations of the Eastern Ghats mountains.  It is produced by native farmers who use only organic growing practices.

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