Some of us may often drink coffee, but never know the origin of coffee and how the word “coffee” was coined, indeed it feels incomplete if you don’t know the origin, here. This beloved drink even has a different history. The difference depends on the language and country from which the coffee emerged. This makes coffee have different names.

the beginning of coffee
Preparing espresso in a coffee machine.

You must have wondered why coffee is named “coffee” and not something else? Well, confused, right. Actually, the word “coffee” could have been given another name, but the origin of the word “coffee” itself is very attached to the distinctive brown-black flavored drink.

Where did the word “coffee” come from?

According to William H. Ukers in his book, the word “coffee” entered various European languages in the 1600s. In the book “All About Coffee” published in 1922, it is said that the word “coffee” or “coffee” is taken from the Arabic word“qahwa” which was absorbed into Turkish“kahveh“.

the beginning of coffee
Turkish coffee made with coal fire.

Unlike in Arabic, the meaning of the word“qahwa” does not refer to the coffee plant, but rather to the name of the drink. We can say that“qahwa” is a term that refers to a drink made from beans and brewed with hot water.

Another opinion in the Symposium on the Etymology of the Word Coffee in 1909, agreed that the word“coffee” refers to the Arabic word“qahwa” which means “strong”. However, there is also another opinion that “qahwa” means a type of alcohol or a drink containing alcohol.

There is another opinion that the use of the word “coffee” did not originate from Arabic, so where did it come from?

Some claims of coffee’s origins suggest that the word “coffee” is derived from the Abyssinian language. According to this theory, coffee is adapted from the word “kaffa” which is a city in the Shoa region. This area is located in Southwest Abissynia or now we know it as the country of Ethiopia.

However, the opinion that the word “kaffa” is of Abyssinian origin is refuted as it is not supported by any solid evidence. There is other evidence to suggest that the coffee fruit or bean was called “bun” or “bunn“. The word does not refer to a drink.

Dallah is a teapot used to cook and serve kahwa, an Arabic-style spiced coffee brew. In the past, dallahs were made of pottery, but today brass is more common.

Derived from the Arabic word “qahwa“, it was later absorbed by Turkish“kahve“, Dutch “koffie“, French “café“, Italian “caffè“, English “coffee“, Japanese “kōhī“, Chinese “kāfēi“, and Maori “kawa“. All of these names have the same sound as the word “qahwa“.

Read also: Coffee Story: Getting to Know the History of Coffee, the Sweet Black Delight

The word “coffee” itself has an interesting history. It comes from the word“qahwa“, which means “wine” as coffee was originally used as a strong drink in Arabia. The first recorded use of the word “coffee” in English is from the early 17th century.

Even back in the day, coffee was a lesser-known beverage in Europe. Then, since its introduction by traders and travelers who had been in the Ottoman Empire of Turkey, coffee became popular. The word “coffee” eventually spread to other countries, including Germany, the Netherlands and Sweden.

What about the history of the word “coffee” as we know it in Indonesia?

While the word “coffee” that we know today is an absorption of the Dutch “koffie“. This theory is considered correct because the Dutch government opened commercial coffee plantations for the first time in Indonesia. However, it also does not rule out the possibility that the word “koffie” was absorbed directly from Arabic and Turkish because Indonesia had established relations with them before the arrival of Europeans.

Couple drinking coffee in the garden. This photo was taken in the 1930’s located in Medan. (Source: Dutch Herald)

In 1699, the Dutch brought back coffee plant seeds from Malbar, India. The coffee that has since been grown in Indonesia has provided excellent quality. This is supported by the coffee samples studied in Amsterdam. Then, the coffee beans that grow on the island of Java are used as seeds for coffee plantations throughout Indonesia. There are also several types of coffee spread across Indonesia including Arabica, Robusta, Liberica (Robinson), and Excelsa. However, the most famous types of coffee in Indonesia are Arabica Coffee and Robusta Coffee.

Read also: Coffee Story: The Story Behind a Brewed Coffee

The largest consumption of coffee in the world is from the Arabica Coffee type, followed by the Robusta Coffee type which is in second place, and the rest are Liberica Coffee types, etc. Arabica coffee (Coffea Arabica) originated in Africa, precisely in the mountainous regions of Ethopia. However, Arabica Coffee began to develop after it was developed in the Yemen and Arabian regions. Through Arab merchants, Arabica Coffee began to spread to other regions, including Indonesia.

Although coffee is not native to Indonesia, it has become an important export item in Indonesia. From natural disasters, World War II, and the struggle for independence, all have played an important role in the development of coffee in Indonesia until today.

The various theories of the origin of coffee and the word “coffee” itself are inseparable from the history of world civilization.

Through various theories of its origin, the specialty of coffee has not disappeared. In fact, coffee is becoming more and more popular. That’s a little explanation of the origin of the word “coffee” which makes you curious about where it actually came from, especially since coffee has become the most popular drink to date. Despite the claims of various parties regarding the origin of the word “coffee”, history still records that the original coffee originated in Ethiopia which then spread throughout the world.

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