A brief history of coffee culture


Coffee is one of the world’s favourite beverages, with up to 90% of the adult population drinking it regularly. It’s an intrinsic part of many people’s lives, forming a daily ritual at breakfast time or the afternoon, while also creating opportunities for social gatherings. It’s a drink that truly crosses all cultural and language barriers.

It’s believed coffee was first cultivated in 575 in Yemen. Coffee trading began to centre around the Arabian port town of Mocha, which remained a crucial hub until the 15th century. Despite efforts by the Arabs to hold on to their monopoly, the commodity spread across the globe. Countries like Sri Lanka, Java and Sumatra and the subcontinent of South and Central America started to grow it, followed by plantations in Guyana, Cuba and Jamaica, where foundations for the famous Jamaica Blue Mountain variety were laid in 1730. Africa joined this list at the end of the 19th century, thanks to British colonists who established coffee plantations in places like Kenya and Uganda. Australia got into the act, too, with plantations taking root in Queensland in 1896.

The Italians have a strong association with coffee, which started out when Venetian merchants bought it from Egyptian traders, along with other commodities. Initially deemed a “sinful beverage”, an Islamic threat to Christianity, it was Pope Clement VIII who tasted it and decided it’d folly to ban such a delicacy. This marked the birth of the nation’s love affair with coffee.

Espresso is a very famous way of drinking it, and was a form that emerged at the start of the 20th century after Luigi Bezzera invented the first espresso machine in 1901. The espresso initially took off on the Apennine Peninsula, gradually working its way across the world from there.

Obviously, espresso isn’t the only way to enjoy a “cup of Joe”, as alternative methods of preparation exist. Each one is different and brings out particular nuances within the drink. It’s possible to use the exact same coffee and prepare it in the various ways possible, only to find that its taste varies subtly every time.

OXALIS sells a wide assortment of coffee sure to appeal to all taste buds. Some types are roasted in-house, and there are various flavoured ones available, too. Connoisseurs should keep an eye out for “micro-lots” that result from limited harvests by particular growers. We also have certain types especially developed for the HoReCa sector.

Take a look at our accessories, which include everything needed for preparing and enjoying coffee to the full.

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