Don’t we all love coffee? Coffee has been proven to be the most popular beverage in the modern world, with more than 400 billion cups consumed in a year. In many Indian households, coffee is looked upon as a delicacy that is only had on special occasions.
Coffee is a staple especially in Southern India, where the states of Tamil Nadu and Kerala are home to some of India’s biggest coffee plantations. Did you know that coffee historically originated in the Middle East? It was first grown in Ethiopia (erstwhile Abyssinia) which was then transported to Arabia in the 15th-century. But have you wondered how did coffee reach India?
The first appearance of coffee in India was around the year 1670. A Sufi saint named Baba Budhan brought seven raw coffee beans hidden in his beard to India from Arabia. This is because raw coffee beans were not allowed to step out of Arabia. Coffee was traded out as a commercial commodity and all the beans were either roasted or boiled to ensure the Arabian monopoly. As it was illegal to carry green raw coffee beans out of Arabia, the saint’s act of rebellion had to be carried out in secret. Due to its origin, the species of coffee is referred to as arabica.
Baba Budhan planted these seven coffee seeds on the slopes of Chandragiri near Chikmagalur. Coffee from these plants was served as a drink to the local people who fell in love with it instantly. Systematic cultivation of coffee soon started and plantations were established. Initially, the arabica variety was extremely popular. However, it was very susceptible to a type of fungus known as “coffee rust”. This led to the development of a stronger strain of coffee called the robusta. Even today Chikmagalur is one of the most prominent producers of coffee and the placeis now known as Baba Budangiri, which is close to the Dattatreya Temple .
So, from a drink which few people had on special occasions, coffee slowly went on to become one of the most favored drinks in India and world over. The rise of ‘Coffee culture’ has given it a new twist and coffee is now associated with conversations, nurturing relationships and business deals. But its humble yet adventurous beginnings in India make it nothing less than a thriller.
Did you know that the word “coffee” entered the English language in 1582 via the Dutch koffie, derived from the Ottoman Turkish kahve, in turn borrowed from the Arabic Qahwah? Qahwah literally means ‘wine’. When it is done right, coffee is supposed to taste similar to a single malt whiskey or that of a fine wine. So, how do you like your coffee?
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