The history of coffee

575 A.D.

Origin and cultivation

The coffee plant originates from Ethiopia. It was used as a food, and in 575 A.D. it was first cultivated by the Arabs who used it to prepare a drink. According to the first references, coffee was classified in the euonymus family then in the family of the jasmines. Later coffee was classified by Linnaeus and later by De Jussie, as a member of the rubiaceae family, genus coffea.

The most popular story attributes the discovery of the properties of coffee to a prior from a Christian monastery, where a goat herd called Kaldi noticed

that the animals in his charge could not sleep after having eaten "a certain plant", and became agitated. The prior found this to be true and used the beans from this plant to make a drink which he gave to his monks, enabling them to stay more awake during nocturnal religious ceremonies.

1600 / 1645 / 1649

Introduction of coffee in Europe

Coffee was first sold in Europe in Venice, where the first public café, the "Café Florian", opened in 1645. Coffee arrived in France soon afterwards (1659), and consumption expanded quickly and extensively.

The "coffee houses" of Europe then became influential places, frequented by artists, intellectuals, merchants, bankers etc., which were a forum for political activities and social development.

There were various opponents to coffee everywhere. In Italy, around 1600, parents asked Pope Clement VIII to ban the favourite drink of the Ottoman Empire, considering it part of the infidel threat. However after drinking a bit, the Pope found it delicious and declared it an acceptable drink for Christians around the world.

18th Century - 1800

Coffee in Portugal

During the 18th Century in Portugal, during the reign of King João V, Francisco de Melo Palheta managed to introduce coffee to the former colony in Brazil and transformed it into the largest producer of coffee in the world. From Brazil, coffee was taken to the former colonies in Cape Verde and S. Tomé and Principe.

In Angola coffee came earlier, where it is thought to have been introduced by Portuguese missionaries. In Timor coffee came in via Java with the Dutch.

The Arabica coffee plant was introduced in S.Tomé from Brazil around 1800. At the same time the coffee plant was introduced by the Portuguese in Cape Verde.

In Angola the dominant group of coffee plants was Robusta, responsible for 90 to 95% of commercial coffee production in this territory.

18th 19th Cen.

First public cafés in Portugal

During the 18th Century the first public cafés appeared inspired by the French social gatherings of the 17th Century, and they became spaces for cultural and artistic development. In this way several cafés appeared in Lisbon, including the Martinho da Arcada, Café Tavares, Botequim Parras. At the start of the 19th Century the famous Marrare cafés opened, founded by António Marrare, a man of Sicilian origin, who was a trader in bottled wines,

liqueurs and coffee. As was observed at the time, "Lisbon was buzzing, the buzz came from Marrare and Marrare was the key influence". With Júlio Castilho, Almeida Garrett and Alexandre Herculano among others, these public cafés were true academies of fashion and thought.


Creation of the International Coffee Organisation (ICO)

The International Coffee Organisation (ICO) was created in 1963, with headquarters in London.

Coffee quotas were established for producer and importer countries to avoid a continuous variation in parameters in play. This organisation is supported by funds from its members, distributed proportionally according to the position the occupy in the international market. Thus Brazil

and Colombia on one side and the USA and other countries in Western Europe on the other, are provide economic support for the organisation. Under the control of the ICO, prices remained relatively stable for about 25 years. At the end of the 80's the agreement stopped working conveniently. There was a global coffee surplus and many countries did not agree with the quotas allocated to them by the ICO.