The History of Coffee


574 AD

The story begins in Abyssinia, now Ethiopia, where a goatherd called Kaldi used to take his goats to browse in the endless highlands where could only be seen some bushes laden with beautiful and tasty red berries.   These berries mostly eaten by the goats caused them a positive energizing reaction, making them walk kilometers and kilometers without ever losing their breath.

Puzzled, the goatherd reported this fact to the Prior of a Local Monastery in order to get some explanations, thus, sharing with him his last discovery. The Prior, puzzled by this story, hastened in trying those berries to certify by himself whether the story told by Kaldi was the truth or not. The Prior went with the goatherd to the highlands and collected several berries that he took with him to the Monastery. Once there, he made a drink of them and tasted it.

After tasting, the Prior could finally prove that, indeed, those berries stimulated his senses and kept him alert for long hours, besides the fact that they had a unique and distinctive aroma. Thus, he began to drink this beverage regularly, helping him focus on his daily duties and stay more awake. Over time, the message has spread and the drink began to be consumed and required by more and more people, being then known under the name of Kahwa.



Coffee was first introduced in Europe through Venice. It was in this city that opened, a few years later, the first public café of the old continent, called “Café Florian”, in 1645. Later, in 1659, coffee arrives in France and from then on, it expanded to other countries, becoming one of the most popular drinks at that time.

Since then, the “Coffee houses” definitely entered the lives of Europeans, becoming meeting, debate and conviviality places. Authentic cultural and political forums, it was also in these places that some important decisions were taken and where the most various forms of artistic and intellectual expressions were showed. The “Coffee houses” set a crucial point in the social development of the nations where they belonged.



In 1727, the Portuguese Francisco de Melo Palheta received from the hands of the French Guyana governor’s wife a few coffee trees.  These were introduced to Brazil, which, since then, became one of the most important coffee producers in the world.

Later, in the 18th Century, coffee finally appears in Portugal with the first public cafés, becoming rapidly spaces of great affluence and, as in the rest of Europe, cultural and artistic animation places. It is especially since the 19th and 20th Centuries that these spaces became places of great importance and social intervention, were the thinkers and politicians of the time gathered and where important discussions on all sorts of issues were carried out. Some distinguished Portuguese figures of our history have stood out in these places, such as Fernando Pessoa, Alexandre Herculano, Almeida Garrett, Eça de Queiroz, Camilo Castelo Branco and many others.


20th Century

Nowadays, coffee is an essential part of the daily life of a large majority of people around the world, being part of their life, their culture, their habits and customs. However, new habits are also introduced in the consumption of coffee and today, coffee is not only consumed in cafes or in traditional places of consumption. Portuguese people, in particular, introduced coffee at home, being today the type of offer, the design and consumption habits more and more diversified. Therefore, coffee keeps asserting itself as one of the most popular drinks in the world.