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Coffee is a brewed drink prepared from roasted coffee beans, which are the seeds of berries from the Coffea plant. The genus Coffea is native to tropical Africa, Madagascar, and the Comoros, Mauritius and Réunion in the Indian Ocean. The plant was exported from Africa to countries around the world and coffee plants are now cultivated in over 70 countries, primarily in the equatorial regions of the Americas, Southeast Asia, India, and Africa. The two most commonly grown are the highly regarded arabica, and the less sophisticated but stronger and more hardy robusta. Once ripe, coffee berries are picked, processed, and dried. Dried coffee seeds (referred to as beans) are roasted to varying degrees, depending on the desired flavor. Roasted beans are ground and brewed with near boiling water to produce coffee as a beverage.
Coffee is slightly acidic and can have a stimulating effect on humans because of its caffeine content. Coffee is one of the most popular drinks in the world. It can be prepared and presented in a variety of ways (e.g., espresso, French press, cafe latte, etc.). It is usually served hot, although iced coffee is also served. Clinical studies indicate that moderate coffee consumption is benign or mildly beneficial in healthy adults, with continuing research on whether long-term consumption inhibits cognitive decline during aging or lowers the risk of some forms of cancer.
The earliest credible evidence of coffee-drinking appears in the middle of the 15th century in the Sufi shrines of Yemen. It was here in Arabia that coffee seeds were first roasted and brewed in a similar way to how it is now prepared. Coffee seeds were first exported from Eastern Africa to Yemen, as the coffee plant is thought to have been indigenous to the former. Yemeni traders took coffee back to their homeland and began to cultivate the seed. By the 16th century, it had reached the rest of the Middle East, Persia, Turkey, and northern Africa. From there, it spread to Europe and the rest of the world.
Coffee is a major export commodity: it is the top agricultural export for numerous countries and is among the world's largest legal agricultural exports. It is one of the most valuable commodities exported by developing countries. Green (unroasted) coffee is one of the most traded agricultural commodities in the world. Some controversy is associated with coffee cultivation and the way developed countries trade with developing nations and the impact of its cultivation on the environment, in regards to clearing of land for coffee-growing and water use. Consequently, fair trade coffee and organic coffee are an expanding market.
The first reference to coffee in the English language is in the form chaona, dated to 1598 and understood to be a misprint of chaoua, equivalent, in the orthography of the time, to chaova. This term and ,,coffee" both derive from the Ottoman Turkish kahve, by way of the Italian caffè.
In turn, the Arabic qahwah may be an origin, traditionally held to refer to a type of wine whose etymology is given by Arab lexicographers as deriving from the verb qahiya (قهي), "to lack hunger", in reference to the drink's reputation as an appetite suppressant. It has also been proposed that the source may be the Proto-Central Semitic root q-h-h meaning ,,dark".
Alternatively, the word Khat, a plant widely used as stimulant in Yemen and Ethiopia before being supplanted by coffee has been suggested as a possible origin, or the Arabic word quwwah' (meaning ,,strength"). It may also come from the Kingdom of Kaffa in southeast Ethiopia where Coffea arabica grows wild, but this is considered less likely; in the local Kaffa language, the coffee plant is instead called ,,bunno".
According to legend, ancestors of today's Oromo people in a region of Kaffa in Ethiopia were believed to have been the first to recognize the energizing effect of the coffee plant, though no direct evidence has been found indicating where in Africa coffee grew or who among the native populations might have used it as a stimulant or even known about it, earlier than the 17th century. The story of Kaldi, the 9th-century Ethiopian goatherd who discovered coffee when he noticed how excited his goats became after eating the beans from a coffee plant, did not appear in writing until 1671 and is probably apocryphal.
Other accounts attribute the discovery of coffee to Sheikh Omar. According to the ancient chronicle (preserved in the Abd-Al-Kadir manuscript), Omar, who was known for his ability to cure the sick through prayer, was once exiled from Mocha in Yemen to a desert cave near Ousab (modern day Wusab, about 90 km east of Zabid). Starving, Omar chewed berries from nearby shrubbery, but found them to be bitter. He tried roasting the seeds to improve the flavor, but they became hard. He then tried boiling them to soften the seed, which resulted in a fragrant brown liquid. Upon drinking the liquid Omar was revitalized and sustained for days. As stories of this "miracle drug" reached Mocha, Omar was asked to return and was made a saint. From Ethiopia, the coffee plant was introduced into the Arab World through Egypt and Yemen.
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