Java or Coffee?

Ever wonder how the wonderful concoction that we know today as coffee become known as java? Well, my friends, it's a long story. In other words, it's time to wake up, smell the coffee, take a sip, sit back and learn!

The origins of coffee are shrouded in uncertainty, although it is more than likely to have been African, particularly Ethiopian, in origin. One legend tells of a goat-herder named Kaldi, who one day found his goats to be a happy lot as they frolicked around a cluster of dark-leafed shrubs bearing red berries. Since this was before the age when one wore berries on hats, shoes and other accessories and he wanted to be happy too, Kaldi decided to test the berries by eating them. Soon he found himself as one among his flock, more carefree than he had ever been before. He shared his discovery with the nearby monastery, and the monks soon used the wondrous beverage to keep them awake during their evening prayer sessions. (They deserved to be happy too!)

After some thousand years, traders brought coffee across the Red Sea and into Arabia (Yemen), where Muslim monks began cultivating the shrubs in their own private gardens. At first, they made a type of tea-like beverage from the pulp of the fermented berries and this concoction was known as "Qahwah". This is the Arabic word for wine and the source of the modern word for coffee. Because it was forbidden for Muslims to drink wine, this new drink was used during religious ceremonies. Initially, it was prepared from green, un-roasted beans boiled in water. By the late 13th century, Arabians began roasting and grinding the coffee beans before adding them to boiling water, improving the flavor. At that time, coffee was also a kind of revered elixir, and physicians prescribed it regularly for longevity, increased stamina and a host of other things.

Until the early 1500s, coffee was a closely hoarded secret. Uncooked berries could not be taken out of the country, insuring an Arabian monopoly. Religious pilgrims visiting Mecca each year slowly eroded this isolation, and coffee seeds soon found their way to Turkey, Egypt and Syria. Many eastern cities opened coffeehouses, where patrons lingered over conversation and games of backgammon and chess. Here European traders were introduced to the wonderful brew and sought to export it for their own caffeine-free purposes and colonies. In 1516, with a plant obtained from Yemen, the Dutch became the first Europeans to transport and cultivate coffee commercially. By 1658 cultivation had spread to Indonesia, particularly Ceylon and their East Indian colony of Java, which would become the world's center for coffee production.

The warmer Indonesian climate provided the perfect breeding ground for the delicate coffee trees and their tasty fruit became known worldwide as "java." In 1714, the Mayor of Amsterdam presented Louis XIV with a Javanese coffee plant. King Louis's love of coffee was life long and only interrupted by the loss of his head during the Reign of Terror of the French Revolution. He was thrilled with his gift and entrusted the plant's care and cultivation to the botanist of the royal court. In a few short years, the offshoots of the Javanese coffee trees crossed the Atlantic. From there coffee spread into the New World and South America, particularly Brazil, which today is the world's largest producer and exporter of coffee.

So with the next sip you take, pause and reflect. This wonderful drink has a noble and formidable past. If you forget the details, don't worry about it. Just finish your cup and have a wonderful java-enriched day!

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About The Author, John Williams
J. Williams writes for a site which offers free free online recipes. Stop by today and get your free recipes.