As legend has it, the effects of caffeine were first noticed by Ethiopian goat shepherd Kaldi, that realized their goats were more energetic after consuming little red berries. The origins of the bean were placed somewhere in the Ethiopian Kingdom of Kaffa.
Those bright red berries contain the coffee seed. They usually grow in trees, that can reach a height of 30 feet, but are cultivated so that they do not exceed 10 feet, in order to make picking the beans easier.
Coffee is hand-picked, to this day, as workers have to have training in spotting ripe berries. It is cultivated in plantations on the “bean belt” – between the tropic of Cancer and that of Capricorn.
Between 1511 and 1886, slaves were used to collect the beans from Cuban plantations, Wikipedia informs. Slave work was used on Brazilian plantations until the 1900s.
The earliest literary mention of coffee dates back to the works of 10th century Persian physician Muhammad ibn Zakariya al-Razi, known as Rhazes in the west.
African tribes consumed coffee by eating it, mixed with fat. Along with the rise of Islam, drinking it became more popular, as alcohol was banned and the drink became a fixture in public gatherings.
Coffee was brought to Europe by Venetian merchants around the year 1600. Venetians imported the beans from the Muslims in North Africa, Egypt, and the East. It was first a drink for the wealthy.
Catholics originally banned the drink, until Pope Clement VIII ruled to accept it in public meeting places, in 1600. In 1645, the first European Coffee House was opened in Venice.
Coffee became available in the UK in the 16th century, and, as coffee houses started to pop up, women were denied access to the popular meeting places. A "Women's Petition Against Coffee" was signed in 1674, but proved inefficient in stopping the caffeine obsession.