A simple bean that keeps the world running

A history of coffee

"How do you take your coffee?" At every moment this question is being asked in countless different ways around the world. Both a social accompaniment and fuel for the day, few substances have had as wide ranging impact on the globe as the coffee bean.

Native to East Africa, the appetite for coffee has seen this plant spread around the world. Now cultivated in over 70 different countries, coffee consumption began in Sufi shrines in the 15th century. The taste for this bitter drink quickly took root across Arabia, entwining itself into the societies and cultures across the peninsula.

With miraculous energy giving properties the march of coffee didn't stop when it reached the Mediterranean. Coffee drinking quickly took root in Turkey, Persia, and began to spread across North Africa and the southern European coast.

Wherever it landed, coffee became a social beverage adapted by the local culture. Yet what always remained was the social element. American cups of Joe, Italian cappuccinos, Turkish coffees, or French cafetieres, all are the central part of cafe cultures that bring people together.

A hidden player this wonder drink has helped forge business ventures, inspire great art, and even complete scientific or mathematical discoveries.

Too subtle to ever trace, we will never know how coffee has helped to shape history, but we can know how it's own history was shaped. Join Patrick as he talks with a panel of experts about how coffee became such a diverse and iconic drink.