History of Spanish coffee

Coffee was discovered in the area now known as Ethiopia in north east Africa about a thousand years ago and it arrived in Europe in the early 17th century. Coffee houses became popular meeting places in many European cities and over the last 400 years it has become an integral part of our culture.

Coffee became extremely popular in Spain at this time and the early Arabic traders were able to take advantage of the Spanish coffee merchants by increasing their prices. Portugal, Spain’s nearest neighbour, had colonies in several regions of Africa and they started to sell coffee to the Spanish at more reasonable prices. However, the quality wasn’t as good and some importers continued to pay the higher prices for the better quality Arabian coffee.

In the 17th century, the Spanish were colonizing large parts of Central and South America and started to set up coffee plantations in areas to the north and south of the equator which were ideal for producing coffee.

Hardly any coffee was grown in Spain at this time, but the Spanish developed a roasting method that produced very dark (almost black) oily beans that were used to make very strong coffee known as Spanish Roast or Dark French Roast.

It is not known if the Spanish were the first to add alcohol to coffee, but this practice is very common in Spanish bars and coffee houses today – usually in the morning or on a cold afternoon.

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