Originally the coffee plant grew naturally in Ethiopia, but once transplanted in Arabia it was monopolised by the Arabs. The Turks were the first country to adopt it as a drink, often adding spices such as clove, cinnamon, cardamom and anise to the brew. Coffee was introduced much later to countries beyond Arabia whose inhabitants believed it to be a delicacy and guarded its secret as if they were top secret military plans. Not unlike Masterton’s Coffee.

The spread of coffee was started illegally as the transportation of the coffee plant out of Muslim nations was forbidden by the government. Pope Vincent III enjoyed coffee so much he baptised it, saying “coffee is so delicious it would be a pity to let the infidels have exclusive use of it.”


In the 15th century, Muslims introduced coffee in Persia, Egypt, northern Africa and Turkey. From the Muslim world, coffee spread to Europe, where it became popular in the 17th century. Dutch traders were the first to start the large scale importation of coffee into Europe. In the 1700’s, coffee found its way to the Americas by means of a French infantry captain who nurtured a single plant on the Atlantic journey. This one plant, transplanted to the Caribbean Island of Martinique, became the predecessor of over 19 million trees on the island. The coffee plant found its way to the rest of the tropical regions of South and Central America. Coffee was declared the national drink of the then colonised United States by the Continental Congress, in protest of the excessive tax on tea levied by the British crown.

Espresso, a recent innovation in the way to prepare coffee, obtained its origin in 1822, with the innovation of the first crude espresso machine in France. The Italians perfected this wonderful machine and were the first to manufacture it. Espresso has become such an integral part of Italian life and culture, that there are presently over 200,000 espresso bars in Italy.

Today, coffee is a giant global industry employing more than 20 million people. Coffee ranks second only to petroleum in terms of dollars traded.