Caffeine is a central nervous system stimulant of the methylxanthine class, is the world’s most widely consumed psychoactive drug as well as one of the main ingredients in coffee. Caffeine is legal and thus remains highly unregulated around the world from various coffee shops to local corner stores. The English word “coffee” is derived from the Dutch word koffie which in turn is borrowed from the Turkish kahve. Second only to oil, coffee is the most valuable and legally traded commodity in the world. It is estimated that 2.25 billion cups of coffee are consumed each day worldwide, and remains a daily ritual in the lives of millions of people around the globe. The origins of coffee remain vastly mysterious amongst numerous legends, but the commonly agreed origin points lead as far back as the 10th century with its discovery in Ethiopia. Coffee grown worldwide can trace its heritage back centuries to the ancient coffee forests on the Ethiopian plateau as the legends dictate how the goat herder Kaldi first discovered the cherished beans. The story goes that Kaldi discovered the coffee beans once he noticed that after eating the berries from a specific tree, his goats became so energetic that they were unable to sleep at night. Kaldi then reported these findings to the abbot of the local monastery, who then proceeded to discard them in the fire, not expecting the delicious aroma that came out of it. They raked out the berries and experimented in making a drink with them, discovering that it kept him alert throughout the long hours of evening prayer, and began to share his knowledge with the other monks at the monastery and thus the fascination of the coffee bean began to spread. As the word travelled east and the coffee bean reached the Arabian peninsula, it began a journey that would bring the beans all across the globe faster than any other frequently used stimulant known to date. The Ethiopian ancestors were the first to recognize the energizing effects of the native coffee plant. The original domesticated coffee plant is said to have been from Harar, a native population derived from Ethiopia with nearby populations in Sudan and Kenya. Coffee was initially and primarily consumed in the Islamic world where it originated and was directly related to religious practices. Coffee cultivation and trade began on the Arabian Peninsula and by the 15th century, coffee was being distributed and grown throughout the Yemeni district of Arabia, and as the 16th century approached, throughout Persia, Egypt, Syria and Turkey. The delicacy of coffee was enjoyed both inside and outside the home, as many public coffee houses began to emerge in many cities throughout Europe. Patrons frequented coffee houses not only for drink, but to listen to music, enjoy performances and became important social centers for the exchange of information and news, soon becoming nicknamed the “Schools of the Wise” (ncausa). By the mid 17th century, there were over 300 coffee houses in London, many of which attracted like-minded individuals such as merchants shippers, brokers and local artists. Coffee houses rapidly began to appear, and while tea continued to be a favoured drink in the New World un 1773, the colonists revolved against a heavy tax on tea, forever changing the drinking preference to coffee, also known as the Boston Tea Party revolt.
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