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Coffee history.

Coffee? That’s a long story. Here’s a brief narrative of the Noble Tree, its legends and how it spread around the world, thanks to its unique characteristics.

The evolution of coffee.

How did coffee reach the popularity it has today? To answer this question, we have to travel back in time to the ​​17th century.

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Noble tree legends.

Coffee reached the Arab world in the form of a drink and spread as an energizer and stimulant only between the 13th and 16th centuries. The drink was mostly used during long religious rituals. Later on, the coffee tree was imported in Europe by Dutch, British and Spanish traders who began to study the characteristics of what soon became the “Noble tree”. The traders brought the coffee seeds in the coffee plantations of their new acquired colonies in Asia and Central and South America. They started to grow different varieties of coffee on the islands of Ceylon (Sri Lanka), Java, Martinique, Réunion – Bourbon, Santo Domingo and Guadalupe.
​​​​​​​ About Brazil, legend has it that the King of Portugal sent Francisco de Mello Palheta to French Guiana in search of coffee seeds. It was only after charming the French governor’s wife that he was able to obtain the seeds. Upon his departure, she gifted him a bouquet of flowers which concealed the ripe coffee berries and coffee shoots he would use to commence Brazil’s coffee industry once returned. In this period the coffee spread widely throughout other countries, thanks to the efforts of navigators and merchants.
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The European love affair with coffee.

Coffee soon arrived in Europe aboard sailing ships that navigated the Mediterranean sea. It quickly became popular among aristocrats and the bourgeois, who used it as a stimulating drink, as a sign of wealth, and to show they belonged to the highest social classes.
Coffee made its first appearance in Venice between the 16th and 17th centuries. The first places dedicated to the pleasure of these drinks opened almost simultaneously: the first in Venice in 1640, and soon after in Paris, London, Frankfurt. Coffee houses were quickly becoming centres of social activity and communication in the major cities of England, Austria, France, Germany and Holland.
By the mid-17th century, there were over 300 coffee houses in London, many of which attracted like-minded patrons, including merchants, shippers, brokers and artists. In the mid-1600s, coffee was brought to New York. By the end of the 18th century, coffee had become one of the world’s most profitable export crops, on its way to becoming the second most consumed beverage in the world and creating what is today a billion-dollar industry.
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The coffee waves.

There are three waves of coffee:
The First Wave consisted of mass marketers focused on increasing the consumption of coffee. During this period, the packaging and the marketing of coffee were revolutionized and air-tight cans and pre-ground portion packs were introduced.
 
The Second Wave focused on coffee origins and roasting styles. The words latte, French Roast, and cappuccino were introduced into consumers' vocabularies and into their lives.
 
The Third Wave is today’s era. Coffee consumers increasingly expect to know exactly where the beans were harvested, when the coffee was roasted, how the beans were processed as well as the idea behind the blend, information about the farm, harvest, processing style, roast date, coffee variety and flavour notes before they make their purchase.

Some are already talking about a Fourth Wave, since coffee culture is spreading rapidly around the world. The Fourth Wave celebrates the science of coffee and the obsession for detail and the perfect taste experience.
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The rise of the modern roaster.

Before the roasting process was discovered, coffee seeds were used together with animal fat in an early version of an energy bar to be taken to stay awake. In Italy, coffee roasting was originally a local activity but soon grew into small, medium and industrial-scale enterprises operating on an international level.
Institutions like the Specialty Coffee Association (SCA), helped the roasting world to evolve rapidly: for over twenty years, the Association has worked to raise standards worldwide. Within the rapidly developing specialty world, specialty baristas have almost become coffee sommeliers, experts in the extraction of drinks without any sensorial defects in the cup. As they became increasingly demanding, when they couldn’t find what they were looking for in the traditional coffee market, they started to roast the coffee themselves. This has led to a growing number of micro-roasters across Europe who produce and sell fresh quality coffee.