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Over centuries, the coffee plant and its cultivation have spread from the Arab region throughout Europe.

During the early 15th century, Arabs were avid coffee consumers, as illustrated by a manuscript of Abd-al-Kefir, dated 1587 and based on records about an Arab called Shibab-ad-Din. Although these records do not exist anymore, they are estimated to be approximately 100 years older than the 1587 manuscript, which is exhibited in a Paris museum today.

Starting in the second half of the 15th century, coffee continued its successful triumph well beyond the borders of the Mokka region. It spread to Cairo via Mekka and Medina, and by means of the expansion of the Ottoman Empire in the 16th century, coffee finally found its way into Asia Minor, Syria, Egypt, and southeastern Europe. Coffee houses mushroomed all over these places.
For years, the Arab world – mainly Yemen - held the monopoly of the coffee trade. In order to prevent trade partners from cultivating coffee themselves, the raw beans were doused with hot water, rendering them unable to germinate. Thus, coffee cultivation was a well-harboured state secret for a long time.

The situation changed in the 17th century, when the Arabic coffee monopoly fell with the beginning of the colonization era. Indians were probably the first ones who illegally brought germinable coffee beans home and cultivated coffee plants. In 1616, the Dutch managed to sneak away a few plants, cultivated them and distributed them in their own colonies. Hence, Dutch colonial masters were able to cultivate coffee in Java and Sri Lanka, starting in 1658. After that, other countries like France and Great Britain followed, and coffee cultivation promptly expanded extensively.
At the same time, coffee houses appeared all over Europe and North America.

 

Coffee became an important international commodity and a domestic political import merchandise in its consumer countries. In 1898, another coffee type called Robusta was discovered and quickly became a very important factor in the global trade as well.

During the 19th century, coffee trade experienced a huge simplification. Advanced industrialization and the development of steam navigation revolutionized transportation; improved communication means enabled stock prices to be passed on much faster, and various new technical equipment facilitated the roasting and preparation process of this popular beverage.

The first industrial convenience products entered the market in the 20th century. Originally prepared as a preservable, non-perishable beverage for soldiers during the war, the simple and storable instant coffee quickly became popular among the general population.

At the same time, decaffeinated coffee gained popularity as well. Due to the many different ways of preparation and the large variety of coffee types, coffee became one of the most important trade commodities of the world - and until today, nothing has changed that.