Coffee History

Ethiopian legend has it that a goat shepherd first discovered coffee after noticing that his goats became super-active and couldn’t sleep after eating the berries from a certain tree. Trying the leaves of the bush, himself, he felt full of energy.

Kaldi (the shepherd) went to the Abbot of the monastery next to his pastures, bringing with him some branches of the mysterious tree. After the Abbot heard the whole story, he decided to cook the branches and sadly got a brew so bitter that it was undrinkable. He threw the pot into the fire and surprisingly smelled an exquisite aroma. The idea to get a drink out of the roasted "cherries" came to him, and this is how the coffee beverage came about.

This, of course, is only one version of the “coffee origin” story.

There are other stories such as:

  • Coffee was first ingested by Sudanese slaves who chewed it to survive their long & arduous journey (explaining how coffee traveled from Ethiopian to Arabia).
  • Sheikh Omar discovered coffee while living as a recluse in Mocha, Yemen. According to this tale, he boiled some berries and found the resulting beverage both stimulating and healing.

Regardless of which story you believe true, coffee traveled from its birthplace in Ethiopia to the Arab world, eventually to Europe, and then to America. The beverage was granted papal consent in 1615 (during a failed move towards its prohibition) and overtook tea as the hot drink of choice in America, near the end of the 18th century, due in large part to the extraordinary tea taxes leveed by the British.

Contemporary Coffee

Today, the annual world average of coffee consumption is approximately 1.25 kg per person per year.  Leading the way in Northern Europe is Finland with an average of 12 kg per year, closely followed by Norway and then Iceland. The US comes in at just over 4 kg per person per year, and at the bottom of the spectrum we find Puerto Rico at only 0.4 kg (which is strange since they grow some truly phenomenal coffee).

Whether coffee production can keep up with these levels of consumption is yet to be seen. “The C Contract” (how Arabica coffees are traded on the futures exchange) is second in activity, being out ran only by oil.  These contracts, which expire every two months, are also widely regarded as some of the most volatile on the Intercontinental Exchange (ICE). 

With populous nations such an India and China increasing their consumption, there is no telling how high coffee production rates will soar. Currently, consumer intake stands at about 141 million bags (132 lbs), but this number is expected to rise to over 175 million bags over the next five years.


Speeder and Earl's coffee comes from the following countries:

  • Bolivia
  • Brazil
  • Colombia
  • Costa Rica
  • Ethiopia
  • Guatemala
  • Hawaii Islands
  • India
  • Indonesia
  • Jamaica
  • Java Island
  • Kenya
  • Mexico
  • Nicaragua
  • Papua New Guinea
  • Peru
  • Puerto Rico
  • Sumatra Island
  • Tanzania
  • Yemen
  • Zimbabwe