Select Page

The History of Coffee

Origin and a brief history of Coffee

Legend has it that around the 14th century, a young shepherd in Ethiopia noticed his goats displaying raised levels of excitement after eating a particular red berry. On consuming some himself he realised an increase in his levels of alertness. He shared his experience with the monks at a nearby Monastry who chastised him and hurled the evil fruit into the fire….the burning beans released a glorious aroma inside the monastery and the monks found their drowsiness reduce dramatically that they were suddenly able to pray with renewed fervour. They boiled some of the beans and drank the brew. its results were even more profound and it was bestowed the status of a ‘holy drink’. The secret was closely guarded and circulation of beans was severely restricted for many years.

Coffee – In India

One saintly monk, ‘Baba Budan’, hid a few beans in his walking stick, left Arabia and traveled to India. Once in India, he planted the seeds outside his cave on a tall hill in Chikmagalur district of Karnataka State. The hill subsequently came to be known as ‘Baba BudanGiri’ and went on to become the home of Coffee in India. The early British settlers in this region went on to develop the first coffee plantations in India. They spread the cultivation and processing of coffee as a commercial crop throughout South India. Chikmagalur, Coorg and Hassan Districts in Karnataka; the Anamalais, Yercaud and lower Kodaikanal hills in TamilNadu went on to become the major coffee growing areas. Two main types of coffee were cultivated in India. At the higher altitudes, Arabica coffee, famous for its rich aroma and the flavourful taste was grown and at lower altitudes, Robusta coffee, famous for its strong, heavy bodied taste was grown. India, today, is the world’s fifth largest grower of coffee with about 3% of the world’s production.

Coffee in India – The Brew

The people of Chennai developed a keen taste for coffee as a beverage. Coffee beans, flat ones referred to as ‘plantation’ were mixed with oval, pea shaped ones, called ‘pea berry’ and roasted, at home, on iron pans. The oval, pea shaped beans would roast evenly on flat pans became immensely popular and an integral part of the blend. The roasted beans were ground to a fine powder and hot water poured over it. After being allowed to soak for a little while, the grounds were separated from the brew using a cloth strainer. The utensils used and actions deployed for this purpose slowly merged and evolved into what is now regarded as the South-Indian Coffee Filter. Steaming hot milk and a little sugar added to the decoction brewed is served in a silver/steel ‘davara tumbler’ to form the iconic South-Indian Filter Coffee Experience.

Chicory and Coffee

Internationally, the French were amongst the first to have experienced coffee. They even attempted to cultivate it as a commercial crop in France. Failure to do so because of unfavourable climatic conditions led them to conquer countries that afforded them a steady supply of coffee. They invented the Jar and Plunger system that evolved into the world renowned ‘French-Press’ in which they brewed their coffee. Economic difficulties in the late 1700’s and a severe short supply of coffee beans made coffee unaffordable. Rather than give it up entirely, the French, found a suitable additive in chicory which when added to coffee powder produced a thoroughly enjoyable, strong brew. It became so popular that it found a permanent place in French coffee. Pondicherry, in India, at the time was ruled by the French. It was through this connection, that the use of Chicory in coffee, as a volume substituting, taste enhancing element first entered India. The locals acquiring a taste for it, spread the use of Chicory to surrounding regions including Chennai where it was readily included as an enhancing ingredient to the already famous filter coffee recipe. This external element sparked off a furious, hitherto undecided debate over the superiority of the ‘pure’ versus the allegedly ‘impure’ versions of coffee. For its part, Chicory is a tuber, grows easily in India and is cultivated extensively in Gujarat. Roasted and ground into a fine powder. It is extremely hydroscopic and has very high water soluble content making it ideal for blending in coffee.

Your perfect gift for coffee lovers!

Buy Now!

Pin It on Pinterest