Myth has it that coffee was first discovered in or around the 9th century in Abyssinia (Ethiopia) by a young goatherd. He noticed that his goats liked to graze upon berries which seemed to have interesting side effects! The goats jumped around seemingly full of energy and realising that the berries must have some magical property the young goatherd took some back to the village elders. They boiled them with water and soon realised the stimulating potential of the brew. From this point on coffee plants were cultivated by man purely for their precious crop.
The Ethiopians traded with the Arabs and coffee spread eastwards. The Arabs jealously guarded the coffee plant and although they traded widely across the Islamic world all beans for export were boiled to prevent any chance of transplantation. However the Dutch managed to transplant some to Java (Indonesia) in late 1600's, and this was the catalyst for the worldwide growth of coffee cultivation. In the late 17th Century coffee came to the masses of Europe and the first coffee houses opened in Italy, Austria and England. Lloyds of London and the London Stock Exchange are just two of the key institutions whose roots can be traced back to a 17th Century coffee house.
By the 18th Century the French had introduced coffee cultivation to Martinique, and by the end of the century there were between 18 and 19 million coffee bushes firmly establishing Central America and South America as important coffee producers.
Today coffee is grown on five continents, is consumed worldwide, and is one of the most important commodities traded on the world markets.