People of the netz!
It is Fun Etymology day, and I know you’ve been waiting for this, so let’s get started!
Today’s word is “coffee”.
Ah, coffee. Some people swear they couldn’t live without it, others, like me, only drink it occasionally.
The coffea arabica plant, from which the coffee seeds are taken, is native of Ethiopia and Yemen, from which it was brought to Europe in the 1500. In fact, Yemen became so rich from the export of coffee that its laws decreed that no living plant or seed could be taken out of the country, in order to protect the monopoly they had.
When it arrived in France and England in the late 1590s, it sparked what can only be called a coffee mania, with more than 3000 coffee houses opened in England alone by 1670. These places were a popular meeting place for intellectuals and philosophers, because they offered a more egalitarian atmosphere from the clubs and universities of the time.
The word “coffee” is a borrowing from Arabic “qahwah”, itself of uncertain origin, filtered through Turkish “kahveh” and Italian “caffè”.
Some say the word originally meant “wine”, others that it comes from the Ethiopian region of Kaffa, one of the homelands of this incredible plant.
Whatever the origins of its name, we can all agree that love it or hate it, the world would not be the same without this black, powerful beverage.