At Kiss the Hippo, we’re dedicated to providing exceptional coffee that's both ethically sourced and carefully roasted. But have you ever wondered where coffee came from – not just our coffee, but all coffee?
That’s right, there was a time before coffee was so ubiquitous. In this post, we'll explore the fascinating history of coffee, from its origins in Ethiopia to its current place as a much-loved drink around the globe.
The origins of coffee
Coffee's story begins in Ethiopia, where legend has it that a goat herder named Kaldi discovered the plant’s energising effects by accident. According to the story, Kaldi noticed that his goats were particularly lively after eating the berries from a certain type of bush.
Curious, Kaldi tried the berries himself – and discovered that they gave him a burst of energy. This discovery led to the cultivation of coffee as a beverage in Ethiopia.
Coffee spreads to the Middle East
Early cultivation and trade of coffee spread throughout Ethiopia in the centuries that followed, with farmers using the plant not only for its energising properties, but also for its medicinal benefits.
By the 16th century, coffee had made its way to the Middle East, where it became a popular drink known as Qahwa in Arab culture. Coffee trade became a thriving business in the region, with coffee houses springing up in cities like Cairo and Istanbul.
These coffee houses became important cultural centers, where people gathered to socialise, discuss politics, and even listen to music.
Coffee reaches Europe
By the 17th century, coffee had made its way to Europe, where it quickly became a popular drink among the upper classes. The first European coffee house opened in Venice in 1645, kicking off the Italian obsession with coffee. From there, such establishments spread throughout the continent.
These coffee houses soon became places where people would gather to read, write and discuss current events – but in the centuries that followed, they’d become more than that. As important centres of intellectual and artistic activity, writers, artists, and musicians would gather in coffee houses to exchange ideas and collaborate on projects.
This coffee house culture was particularly strong in cities like London, where establishments like the famous Lloyd's Coffee House became important meeting places for businessmen and merchants.
Coffee in America
Coffee arrived in the New World in the 17th century, brought over by European colonists, with the first coffee house in the United States opening in Boston in 1676.
By the 18th century, coffee had become the preferred beverage of American colonists, who saw it as an alternative to tea – which had become associated with British rule.
Coffee, well, everywhere
Today, coffee is grown and enjoyed all over the world, with major coffee-producing countries including Brazil, Colombia, and Vietnam. The process of getting coffee from bean to cup is a complex one, involving everything from cultivation and harvesting to roasting and brewing.
At Kiss the Hippo, we take pride in every step of this process, using only the finest quality beans and roasting them with care to bring out their unique flavors. We believe that coffee is more than just a beverage – it's a cultural phenomenon that connects people across time and space.
The history of coffee is a rich and complex one, spanning centuries and continents. From its origins in Ethiopia to its current place as one of the most beloved beverages in the world, coffee has played an important role in human history and culture.
At Kiss the Hippo Coffee, we're proud to be a part of this tradition, crafting exceptional coffee which is worthy of its storied past. Check out our current range below to try coffees from all over the world – or bring a bit of that coffee house culture to the present day with a visit to one of our London cafés.