Back of the Napkin
September 7, 2023

From Beans to Buzz – Exploring the Fascinating History of Coffee

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Today we’re embarking on a journey through time to uncover the rich history of coffee. This caffeinated adventure will not only explore the origins and evolution of this beloved beverage but will also delight your taste buds with classic coffee cocktail recipes. So grab your favorite coffee cup and get ready to sip and savor the stories behind your daily dose of caffeine.

The Coffee Chronicles – A Historical Brew

Our story begins in the lush highlands of Ethiopia, where coffee’s legend was born. According to popular folklore, a goat herder named Kaldi discovered the invigorating effects of coffee beans when his flock became unusually lively after nibbling on the red berries from a particular tree. This led to the realization that these beans had the power to keep people awake and alert.

Fast forward to the 9th century, and coffee cultivation had spread to the Arabian Peninsula, where it became an integral part of their culture. The word “coffee” itself is believed to have originated from the Arabic word “qahwa,” which means “wine of the bean.” By the 15th century, coffee had made its way to Constantinople (modern-day Istanbul), becoming a social and cultural phenomenon. Coffeehouses, known as “qahveh khaneh,” emerged as intellectual hubs where people gathered to discuss literature, politics, and philosophy.

The European Infatuation

In the 17th century, coffee found its way to Europe, thanks to Venetian traders who brought it back from the East. Coffeehouses started popping up across the continent, with London’s first coffeehouse, “The Angel,” opening its doors in 1652. These establishments served as meeting places for artists, thinkers, and the general public, fostering intellectual exchange and debate.

The concept of coffeehouses soon spread to France, where Café Procope in Paris became famous for hosting prominent figures like Voltaire and Rousseau. Coffee became synonymous with Enlightenment ideals, inspiring great minds to engage in spirited discussions over a cup of joe.

The Birth of the Coffee Cocktail

Now that we’ve brewed up some historical context, let’s dive into the delightful world of coffee cocktails. These beverages combine the rich, bold flavors of coffee with various spirits and ingredients, creating a symphony of tastes and aromas. Here are two classic coffee cocktail recipes for you to enjoy:

Classic Espresso Martini


  • 1.5 oz vodka
  • 1 oz coffee liqueur
  • 1 oz freshly brewed espresso
  • 0.5 oz simple syrup
  • ice


three coffee beans


  • Fill a shaker with ice.
  • Pour in the vodka, coffee liqueur, freshly brewed espresso, and simple syrup.
  • Shake vigorously until well chilled.
  • Strain the mixture into a martini glass.
  • Garnish with three coffee beans.

Irish Coffee


  • 1.5 oz whiskey
  • 6 oz hot brewed coffee
  • 1 oz heavy cream
  • 1 tsp brown sugar


  • In a heat-resistant glass, combine the Irish whiskey and brown sugar.
  • Fill the glass with hot brewed coffee, leaving some space at the top.
  • Gently float the heavy cream on top by pouring it over the back of a spoon.
  • Serve hot and enjoy!

Coffee’s Global Domination

As coffee’s popularity soared, the 18th century witnessed the rise of coffee plantations in the Caribbean, Central, and South America. The tropical climates of regions like Brazil and Colombia proved ideal for coffee cultivation, and they soon became major coffee producers. Coffee transformed into a global commodity, fueling trade and economic growth.

The Coffeehouse Culture Revival

In the modern era, coffeehouses have seen a resurgence in popularity. The third-wave coffee movement emerged, emphasizing the artisanal aspects of coffee production. Today, specialty coffee shops around the world take pride in sourcing and roasting high-quality beans, ensuring that each cup is a work of art.

Closing Thoughts

And there you have it, the captivating history of coffee, from its mystical origins in Ethiopia to the bustling coffeehouses of Europe and the global phenomenon it is today. We hope you’ve enjoyed this caffeinated journey through time and learned a thing or two about the beverage that fuels your mornings.

We encourage you to try out the classic coffee cocktail recipes we shared earlier. Whether you opt for the sophisticated Espresso Martini or the comforting Irish Coffee, these beverages are a testament to the enduring appeal of coffee in all its forms.

Don’t forget to subscribe to our podcast for more intriguing episodes that blend history, technology, and trivia with the art of mixology. Cheers to a cup of coffee that’s both stimulating and flavorful!