History of Coffee

iStockllThe story of coffee, at least according to legends, starts in the sixth century. The legends say that wild coffee beans were discovered by Kaldi, an Ethiopian shepherd whose goats kept him up at night after eating red coffee berries. When Kaldi discovered that the beans had the same effect on him, he told the abbot of the nearby monastery. The monks brewed the beans into a hot drink that kept them awake for long hours of prayer.

In the first part of the 20th century the interior was settled by British and European farmers who became rich by farming coffee on the backs of the Kenyan workers. By the 1930's the farmers powers had become very strong.

All Kenya coffee grown is Arabica coffee grown on the rich volcanic soil that is found in the highlands of the country. Kenya has this level of quality through a government-run system that offers rewards to farmers for producing better quality coffee. This policy has lead to steady improvements and consistent improvements in the cups quality. Each lot of Kenya coffee, if it is from a large farm or a small co-op has to undergo rigorous testing for quality by the Coffee Board of Kenya. History will have to be the judge to see who is correct.

Today, coffee is an important commodity and the industry is the main source of livelihood for 30 million farmers across the world, who are involved in growing, processing and trading coffee.

Coffee is one of the world's most traded commodities, second in value only to oil, and is expected to reach annual production of 10 million metric tons by 2012. Coffee trade is vital to the politics, survival and economies of many developing nations, while the industry's pricing and futures are decided in conference rooms and on stock exchange floors in some of the world's wealthiest cities.