It's thought that coffee has been around for over 1200 years. A few coffee factoids:

Coffee origins. Archaeological discoveries prove the first recorded use of roasted coffee in the Middle East.

Persian Philosopher Avicenna & Arabian doctor Rhazes document the therapeutic use of coffee.

Coffee and the Ancient Egyptians. The Italian botanic doctor Prospero Alpino describes the coffee plant and declares its common use in Egypt.

Coffee arrives in Europe & becomes popular as a drink, with coffee shops opening in Venice, London, Paris, Vienna & Hamburg

It was in an English coffee house that the word "tips" was first used for gratuities. A jar with a sign reading 'To Insure Prompt Service' sat on the counter & you put a coin in the jar to be served quickly.

World Diffusion. Export of the coffee plant from the Arabic countries throughout the rest of the world: The Dutch exported coffee plants form Yemen to their colonies in Indonesia & Guyana; The French introduced the coffee plant to Antilles; The Portuguese to Brazil; the British to Ceylon, Cuba, Jamaica & Central America and the Spanish to Colombia.

It took the Italians to develop the roasting & grinding techniques to produce the best coffee blends.
Coffee is now the world's second most widely traded commodity after oil.

The Coffee Plant

The coffee plant is actually a shrub, pruned to around two or three metres, which makes it easy to pick.

Arabica and Robusta are the two main types of coffee. Robusta grows between sea level and 600 metres & Arabica between 600 and 2000 metres above sea level.

Coffee is grown between the tropics of Capricorn and Cancer. Arabica tend to grow in the Americas and East Asia, while Robusta plants are more usually found in west Africa and Asia.

It takes around five years for a coffee plant to produce its first crop of quality beans. It then goes on producing for the next fifteen years.

Whether hand-picked or shaken from the tree, most coffee plants yield around half a kilogram of beans in a year.