A Somewhat Less Than Concise History Of Coffee

By Timothy J. Castle, Author of The Perfect Cup

The history of coffee, the beverage made from the roasted seeds of the coffee cherry, unlike many things in our universe, has been relatively brief and quantifiable, starting at about 615 years A.D. (give or take 50) in the mountains of Ethiopia. In discussing the history of specialty coffee, however, it becomes immediately apparent that establishing a starting point is more difficult. In fact, it’s not clear that there is one separate and apart from the historic arc of coffee itself.

Those of us involved in the business of getting specialty coffees from the “seed to the cup” care about this distinction because of the high rate of change that exists within our industry. It would be to our advantage if we could point to a specific pattern and be able to predict where we might end up in five or ten years, or to at least understand that there isn’t any way anyone could know, because the current conditions we face are completely new to all of us.

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