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The origins of coffee - a little coffee history

The origins of coffee

To our knowledge the initial origin of the coffee plant (the Coffea) is the eastern part of Africa (Ethiopia) and raised in the tropical rainforest.

The most cultivated coffee species, the Coffea Arabica is coming from the rainforest of southern Ethiopia and contrary to what the name suggests, the Coffea Arabica is not an Arab origin.


The first use of the coffee bean (seed from the of the coffee plant) was in the Arab countries where coffee was used for medical purposes. The Arabs introduced the coffee plant in Yemen where they grow well in the valies. Coffee got its fame by the Arabs and Linnéan gave, mid 18th century, the name Coffea Arabica, because he believed the coffee was grown in Arabia.

In the VOC time period the Arab countries lost their monopoly on coffee. The Coffea Arabica coffee plant was introduced in India, Indonesia and to other major European colonies, as well as Central and South America. Later the coffee was introduced at the African continent.Meanwhile, many other coffee species have been discovered, there are more than 100 botanical species of coffee known, most of which are not suitable for consumption. Also there are many varieties of Coffea Arabica.

Now widely grown is the arabica coffee and robusta coffee (Coffea canephora). The robusta coffee grows naturally in the African tropical rain forest, from Senegal to Uganda. The robusta coffee species thrives best in the lowlands, the best arabica coffee species at higher altitudes.