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It all started with a curious goat. At least that’s what the legends say. A 9th century Ethiopian goat herder by the name of Kaldi drank a concoction made from the beans after seeing his energetic goats eat them. The Sufi monks of Yemen in the 15th century are said to have drunk it as well. Soon it was popularised in Arabic coffee houses and spread to India, Europe and beyond.


In the early 1700s the French were so interested in growing their own coffee, they attempted to plant it in the Dijon region. This attempt was a failure due to the temperatures in the area, which were too cold to grow coffee.

However, King Louis XIV, a fan of the drink, coveted a coffee tree of his very own. Fortunately for him, the Dutch, who had some success growing coffee trees in Java, owed him a favour and agreed to bring him a tree, dubbed The Noble Tree. Royal botanists looked after the tree in the first European greenhouse and it became one of the highest yielding coffee trees in the world – fathering billions of Arabica trees that were exported to the Americas and elsewhere.

Coffee In The Americas

It may seem that coffee is everywhere now, but it didn’t take root in South and Central America until Gabriel Mathieu de Clieu smuggled some seeds from The Noble Tree in France and sailed across the Atlantic Ocean to the island of Martinique.

Though the French tried to contain the production of coffee to their considerable territories in the region, coffee was in too high demand not to spread. It is said that Francisco de Melo Palheta brought coffee seedlings to Brazil by seducing the wife of the governor of French Guinea. After Brazil came Costa Rica and Colombia, two countries whose economies benefited richly from the crop.