Gastronomy & Culture

Coffee – one of the most loved drinks in the world

Coffee is believed to have originated in Ethiopia around 500 to 800 AD. Legend has it that a goat herder realised that his goats were more active after eating ‘cherries’ in his local forest. He spoke of his observations to an abbot of a nearby monastery, who checked for himself and coffee was born! Later it was taken to Mocha in Yemen, hence the name of coffee from that region. Now it is grown in over 50 countries in the world. The biggest production from Brazil, Vietnam and Colombia. There are two main types of coffee bean, Arabica which grows best at high altitudes in rich soil and Robusta preferring higher temperatures, thriving on lower ground.

Less common are Liberica and Excelsa. Liberica is mainly produced in Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines. It is similar to Robusta but hardier. It has a larger tree growing to 20 metres and produces coffee beans that are much larger than other varieties. Excelsa grows mainly in South East Asia and accounts for 7% of the world’s coffee. It is largely used in blends in order to give the coffee an extra boost of flavour.

Quite a few countries around the world produce a premium class of coffee. However, here is one outstanding production is from the island of Reunion. In the 18th century, it became one of the main suppliers of coffee to Europe. From the late 1800s, the growing of sugar cane plus a disease of the leaves resulted in the cultivation of coffee being abandoned. However, in the beginning of the 2000s following the discovery of 30 plants surviving Bourbon Pointu was re-born taking its place with other premium products.