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For most of us, the first image conjured in our head when anyone mentions coffee is the small brown bean. However, coffee is actually a seed and comes from a bright red berry, called the coffee cherry. Often squeezed into a juice, the flesh of a coffee cherry is surprisingly good and has a melon-like sweetness when ripe.
Coffee cherries grow on the coffee bush and are native to Ethiopia. It is believed that the stimulating effects of the fruit were discovered when a local herder’s goats consumed the fruit and were found leaping with energy. Ethiopians themselves then began consuming the cherries coated in fat before the bean was consumed as a drink.
The beans were later smuggled out of Ethiopia and spread by Sufi Islam. In fact, the origin of the name for the caffeinated beverage comes from the Yemen term for wine, qawah. As coffee beans reached the port of Yemen, the Yemeni people aware of the energizing effects of coffee, dubbing the drink “wine of the bean”. This was later converted to kaveh in Turkish, then the Dutch choose the term koffie, and that eventually lead to the English term of coffee.
After being taken out of Ethiopia, coffee spread out drastically. Today coffee grows in the tropical regions of the world referred to as the Coffee Belt, the area between the Tropic of Cancer and Capricorn, because of the perfect coffee growing conditions. Each region produces a distinct tasting bean due the crop taking on the taste of the area’s soil and climate. Read about some of the world's most celebrated coffee destinations on our blog, including Guatemala, Ethiopia and El Salvador.
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