Coffee and its History

Early History

The coffee plant is native to Ethiopia. According to legend coffee was discovered by an Ethiopian goat herd called Kaldi. He noticed that goats who ate certain beans became very lively. It was drunk in Yemen by the 15th century. By the 16th century it had spread to Persia (Iran) and Turkey. There were many coffee houses where people could drink and also socialize.

It reached Europe in the late 16th century through trade. Coffee was introduced into Italy first. (Today it is still a very popular drink among the Italians). Coffee really became popular in Europe in the 17th century. In the 1600s coffee houses opened across Europe. The first coffee-house in England opened in Oxford in 1651 and by the late 17th century there were many coffeehouses in English towns where merchants and professional men met to drink cups of coffee, read newspapers and chat.

Lloyds Coffee House opened in London in the 18th century and soon became a center of marine insurance. However by the mid-18th century coffee houses were past their heyday in England. Merchants met to do business in specialist exchanges and gentlemen’s clubs took over as the places where well to do men met to socialize and chat.

Meanwhile the first coffee-house in America opened in Boston, Massachusetts in 1689. Merchants Coffee House opened in New York in 1737 and it became an important meeting place. In America drinking coffee rather than tea became patriotic after the Boston Tea Party of 1773 (a protest against a British tax on tea).

In the early 18th century the Dutch began growing coffee in Indonesia. Also in the 18th century people began growing coffee in Brazil. By the early 19th century coffee plantations in Brazil were booming. In the 20th century a vast amount of coffee was grown in Uganda. Meanwhile the first American coffee percolator was invented in 1865 by James Mason.

Modern History

Instant coffee was invented by New Zealander David Strang in 1889. Freeze dried coffee was invented in 1938. Meanwhile decaffeinated coffee was invented by Ludwig Roselius in 1903. Melitta Bentz invented the coffee filter in 1908. Achille Gaggia invented the modern espresso machine in 1946. The first pump driven espresso machine was made in 1960. Meanwhile in the early 20th century the coffee table became a popular item of furniture.

During the Second World War coffee was rationed for a short time in the USA. Coffee rationing was introduced in November 1942 but it only lasted until July 1943.

Today coffee is still one of the world’s most popular drinks. Brazil is still the world’s largest producer of coffee.

From a simple cup of black coffee to a complex, multi-adjective Starbucks order, each coffee drinker has their own favorite way of indulging in this caffeinated wonder-drink.

Different Types Of Coffee

coffee types

Regardless of why you’re drinking coffee, what matters most is how it tastes, smells, and whether or not it makes you feel alert and happy in the morning. That being said, everyone has their favourite order – perhaps a latte, a piccolo, or maybe a long black.

We checked online to see how many types of coffee beverages there are… it turns out, it’s quite a lot. Over thirty different types were listed on one website, and more than forty on another. To save us all some time, we will confine this list to the most commonplace coffees available, and what many Canstar Blue staff deem the most delicious.

Did we forget your favourite type of coffee? Let us know and we’ll add it into the article and give you a shout out!

Caffè Americano                                                                                                                   

You can make this type of coffee quite simply by adding hot water to a shot of espresso coffee. It has been said that American soldiers during the Second World War would make this type of coffee to make their beverages last longer. It was then (apparently) adopted by American baristas after the war.

Café Latte (or Café au lait)

A fairly popular option for coffee drinkers, a latte consists steamed (or scolded) milk and a single shot of coffee. It is usually quite frothy, and you’ll occasionally encounter cafes that don’t understand the difference between this and a flat white.


Possibly the most popular type of coffee in the world, a cappuccino consists of three layers (kind of like a cake). The first is a shot of espresso, then a shot of steamed milk, and finally the barista adds a layer of frothed, foamy milk. This final layer can also be topped with chocolate shavings or powder. Traditionally, Italians would consume this type of coffee at breakfast.


To make an espresso, shoot boiling water under high pressure through finely ground up coffee beans and then pour into a tiny mug. Sounds simple right? Well, it’s surprisingly difficult to master. Espressos are the purest coffee experience you can get, and while they’re not for everyone, it can be a truly singular drinking experience when you find a good brew.

Flat White

The most Aussie coffees available are the long black and the flat white – as both originated in Australia and New Zealand. For a flat white, the steamed milk from the bottom of the jug (which is usually not so frothy, but rather creamy) is poured over a shot of espresso. It is now popular among mums and dads at school fetes who are desperately trying to stay awake.

Long Black

Hot water is poured into a cup, and then two shots of espresso are poured into the water. If you do the inverse of this, it will result in an Americano. Long blacks can be quite strong, and have more crema (a creamy foam that tops espresso shots) than an Americano.


If a stranger offers you an Irish coffee, beware – because too many of these and you’ll be dancing on your local coffee shop counter. This type of coffee is brewed with whiskey, sugar, and a thick layer of cream on the top – and isn’t readily available in Australia due to its alcohol content.  Be warned that trying to make this with scotch doesn’t work with instant coffee…trust us.

Macchiato (also known as a Piccolo Latte)

Although it has similarities to a cappuccino, a macchiato is different in that it is a shot of espresso which is then topped off with foamed milk dashed directly into the cup.


A vienna is made by adding two shots of particularly strong espresso together before whipped cream is added as a substitute for milk and sugar. The Vienna is a melding of the strong flavours of straight espresso, with the smoothness of sugary cream.


A ‘mocha’ is just a latte with added chocolate powder or syrup, as well as sometimes being topped with whipped cream. If anything, this is a good entry level coffee – living in the worlds between the childlike hot chocolate and the adult café latte.


Affogatos aren’t a coffee at all really, as they’re a shot of espresso poured over a desert (usually ice cream). That doesn’t make them any less delicious though.

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