It’s hard to pinpoint how coffee was discovered. However, legend has it that a 9th-century goat herder called Kaldi is the first to have stumbled upon the coffee plant as he shepherded his goats across the plains of Ethiopia. He noticed how energetic his goats became after nibbling on the fruit of a particular plant. Curious, he tried the fruit for himself and enjoyed the surge of energy he experienced. What may have happened next is that he shared the fruit with his people.
While this story remains unverified, what is certain is that the coffee plant was discovered in Ethiopia. It was first mentioned in a Persian text around 850-900 AD. There are other 15th century texts that claim Yemen cultivated the first coffee plantations. However, it is when the Turkish took over the Arabian Peninsula in the 16th century under their Ottoman king that coffee really became popular. The first documented coffee house opened in Constantinople (now Istanbul) in 1554; and by the 17th century, coffee had reached Europe – and then the rest of the world.
How the coffee bean came to India is also up for debate. While some texts indicate it was brought over to the Malabar region of India’s west coast in 1616, the bean is also said to have been smuggled into India from Mecca by a Sufi saint called Baba Budan – he is said to have planted the seeds in Chikmagalur, Karnataka, in 1670.
All these centuries later, coffee has become one of the world’s most popular drinks – and it’s consumed in a variety of ways. Can’t make up your mind on which type of roasted coffee beans to buy? Our glossary should help.
Know your beans
The 4 major coffee bean types are Arabica, Robusta, Liberica and Excelsa, each with a distinct flavour.
Widely consumed, Arabica beans are often considered gourmet. These beans are fragrant, and have a sweet, almost chocolaty flavor that finishes off with a caramel aftertaste; they also have a light acidity. Arabica beans usually grow in Latin America.
Also widely consumed, Robusta beans have an earthy, sharp, and somewhat bitter flavour. Generally used to make espresso shots, these beans also have twice the amount of caffeine as Arabica beans. Robusta beans usually grow in Africa and Indonesia.
Grown in the Philippines, these beans have a woody smoky flavour that is full bodied.
Grown mainly in South-East Asia, these beans have a fruity, tart flavour.
The Best Beans
Arabica is by far the best kind of coffee, followed by robusta. However, the flavour of the bean – and therefore your coffee – depends on where it’s coming from. The Colombian Arabica bean comes with a rich, velvety flavour profile; Guatemalan Arabica is intense and tart; Costa Rica, meanwhile, is smooth and has a rich walnut flavour. The Arabian Peninsula is also home to some of the best coffee, which has a sweet, chocolaty flavour.
Indian coffee – which can be either arabica or robusta and is the only coffee grown under shade – is wonderfully mild and full-bodied, with a rich aroma. It is mildly acidic and, depending on where it is grown, comes with either spicy or chocolaty notes.
Where To Get The Best Coffee In India
1. Blue Tokai
Find flavours such as Attikan Arabica, Karadykan Vienna, and Kalledeverapura Pulp Sun Dried at this coffee shop, which stocks handpicked Indian specialty coffee.
Get coffee specially sourced from remote parts of India here, some of which include Kelagur Honey, Marvahulla Estate and Doraikanal.
From Italian to Colombian and Kenyan beans, you’ll find it all here.
From the heart of east, G7 brings strong coffee flavours in an instant mix pack with flavours like hazlenut, mocha and espresso. They even have a sugar-free option.
Get quality 100% organic coffee beans here. You can order in flavours such as Turkish, South Special and Raw Organic.
A hub for everything gourmet, Foodhall has a variety of coffee from vanilla to dark roasted, hazelnut and French roast.