It is not known exactly when the coffee was first discovered but it is presumed that its origins are very distant and remote; In fact archaeologists found writings dating back to the 900th AD on which were reported the descriptions about the use of coffee as medicine.
In addition, there is a legend that attributes the discovery of coffee to an Ethiopian shepherd named Kaldi, who observed that his flock was very active after ingesting red berries or coffee berries. So he too decided to taste them and discover the energy effect that they were able to produce
Little by little the habit of using coffee berries as energy food became more and more widespread among the locals who learned to create a drink.
From Ethiopia the use of coffee spread in the surrounding areas. The first plantation of coffee arose in Yemen after which the cultivation gradually spread also in Arabia and Egypt where coffee as a beverage soon became a real habit.
The coffee became popular in Europe only from the 17th century to the exact 1617 year in which the coffee appeared in Europe thanks to the Venetian merchants who followed the maritime routes that united the East with Venice and Napoli.
In particular, the credit goes to Botanico Prospero Alpini who had been a doctor to the consul of Venice in Egypt.
Later Venice became an important point of reference for merchants not only Italian, but also coming from other countries of central-northern Europe. Many legends have arisen around this drink, in fact it is said that the West has discovered coffee thanks to some bags forgotten by the Turks in retreat from Vienna;
Coffee besides being used as a beverage had an important role also in the medical field and also for this reason its price was rather high.
But the spread of coffee caused religious problems, because coffee was considered by priests to be the devil’s drink” because of its energetic and exciting effects, and for this reason it was proposed excommunication, pressing Pope Clement VIII to prohibit its use.
The Pope at this point, before prohibiting its use, decided to try the coffee in person being positively impressed that he decided not to prohibit its use and even decided to baptize coffee as“Christian drink”. Thus in Italy coffee soon became a gift to be offered in certain circumstances or as a gift of love and friendship.
It was not by chance that Venice was the first Italian city to know coffee and to have public spaces where you can enjoy this drink.
Coffee shops and the first cafés
Once discovered its economic potential, the first coffee shops were born. In fact, coffee as well as being appreciated for its medicinal properties became well priced a social“”beverage. Venice was in fact the first Italian city to import and work the coffee, strong just of the cultural and economic exchanges that already in 1500 , entertained with the Middle East and, especially, with Yemen, Ethiopia and the Sudan that we know to be the places in which coffee was born. Once arrived in Venice, the coffee’ has become a real opportunity to sharing, a pleasant moment of encounter, in addition to a real cultural phenomenon. It is not by chance that Goldoni wrote “La Bottega del Caffè’” describing scenes of daily meeting at the various local coffee shops in the streets blinds.