Where Does the Word Coffee Come From

Where Does the Word Coffee Come From?

The word likely originated when a herder first implemented coffee beans to make a drink in the 6th or 9th century.

The original name of coffee was “Kaffa,” which came from the Kaffa Province in southwestern Ethiopia.

The guide below will provide you with the history of coffee and the general data behind how coffee got its name.

You will learn about the multiple countries where coffee became a popular drink.

Using many sources, we have gathered the information you need to learn about where the word coffee comes from.

A few of the topics you’ll learn below include:

  • The Legend of Discovering Coffee
  • The Etymology of the Word Coffee
  • The Middle Eastern History of Coffee
  • The Ethiopian History of Coffee
  • The Islamic History of Coffee
  • The Spread of Coffee Drinks Throughout Europe
  • When and Why Coffee Became Popular in the United States

The Legend of Discovering Coffee

A legend from Ethiopia states that a goat herder named Kaldi first discovered coffee beans after finding his goats playing, running around, and bouncing with energy.

These goats had recently had some coffee beans from the coffee bush.

When Kaldi had the coffee beans, he experienced a similar outcome. A monk then took these beans back to his residence and spent the night awake after consumption.

That legend shows where coffee might have come from originally.

The Etymology of the Word Coffee

The English language first began using the word “coffee” in 1582, which comes directly from the Dutch word “koffie.” That particular word (koffie) first appeared as the Arabic word “qahwah.”

It then moved onto the Ottoman Turkish word “kahve” before the Dutch took on the drink and called it “koffie.”

The original Arab word “qahwah” originally meant “wine,” The coffee drink had the same name due to the similarly dark colors of coffee and wine.

Further, the term coffee pot became a common word in 1705. By 1952, the common saying “coffee break” became a regular occurrence in the workplace.

The Middle Eastern History of Coffee

In the Middle East, coffee took on a nearly religious aspect and was used to support concentration.

Sufis in Yemen drank coffee to stay awake at night when pursuing their devotion to religion and God.

The coffee plant became famous in Mecca by 1414. Then, the drink spread to Egypt and North Africa in the early 1500s.

Many coffee houses popped up throughout Cairo in Egypt. Coffee houses were also typical in Syria by that point. By 1554, coffee shops also appeared in Istanbul.

Yet, conservative and orthodox imams in Mecca abolished the coffee drink in 1511 due to its stimulating impacts.

The Ethiopian History of Coffee

The bans on coffee also showed up in Ethiopia. The Ethiopian Orthodox Church abolished coffee consumption before the 18th century.

Yet, by the late 1800s, the attitude toward coffee began changing in Ethiopia.

The drink became more prevalent in 1880 because Emperor Menelik drank it regularly.

Another reason the drink became popular was due to writers reporting how coffee could alleviate tiredness and bring more vigor and energy back into the human body.

The Islamic History of Coffee

Islamic medicine experts touted the benefits of coffee, such as its ability to stimulate the brain. They explained how it differed from the harmful effects found in alcohol and hashish.

Coffee houses spread throughout Yemen, Cairo, and Mecca due to the drink’s popularity. The coffee shops became centers of Islamic art, philosophy, and life.

By 1532, however, some critics of coffee began comparing the drink to alcohol despite its milder effects on cognition.

It was thought improper to drink coffee in public places, and Islamic society began limiting coffee drinking.

Another issue that led to these public bans is that many shared coffee from a large bowl, similar to how people drank wine. That further compared coffee to alcohol.

The Spread of Coffee Drinks Throughout Europe

Coffee was first popularized in Hungary when Turks invaded the country at the Battle of Mohács in 1526. At the Siege of Vienna, Turks further brought coffee to the continent of Europe.

In the 17th century, the British East India Company and the Dutch East India Company brought coffee beans to England.

The United Kingdom opened the first coffeehouse at St. Michael’s Alley in Cornhill, London.

The Muslim culture also brought coffee beans and made them famous throughout France. Jean de Thévenot brought coffee to Paris after traveling in the East and gave these coffee beans to close friends.

North sea ports in Germany also had various coffee shops spread, such as in Hamburg in 1677.

Coffee also became popular in Poland and Lithuania by the 17th century, as merchants from the Ottoman Empire traded coffee beans with people in these European countries.

When and Why Coffee Became Popular in the United States

The British colonists fought to become independent of the United Kingdom in colonial America. The issue was rising taxes and complaints that the colonists were not represented fairly.

The rising taxes on tea led to the Boston Tea Party of 1773, when colonists threw tea off a ship while dressed up as Native Americans.

The rising taxes on tea led colonists to become coffee drinkers. As the American Revolution took place, coffee became popular in the United States.

Drinking coffee became a patriotic duty as tea began to represent England.


Coffee is a delicious drink with an intriguing history. The word comes from Arabic as “qahwah,” which means wine.

The dark colors in a cup of coffee reminded people of a glass of wine. Legend says that a goat herder found coffee after finding his goats hopping excitedly after eating coffee beans.

After reading through the history of coffee, grab a delicious cup for breakfast.

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