Descriptive essay: The Coffee trade
Coffee was almost certainly cultivated in Yemen long before the 15th century when Sufi mystics reportedly drank it to keep awake during extended hours of prayer. The drink was spread by Muslim pilgrims and traders across North Africa and the Middle East, where Arabian coffeehouses became centres of political activity. Coffee soon became one of the most valuable primary products in world trade. The first UK coffee house was opened in Oxford in 1650, followed two years later by one in London.
Global coffee consumption doubled over the last 40 years from 4.2m tonnes in 1970 to 8.7m tonnes in 2015. Coffee producing countries consume 30 per cent of the world’s coffee, led by Brazil whose consumption reached 1.2 million tonnes in 2015. The remaining 70 per cent of coffee produced is traded internationally; the US is the biggest importer, followed by Germany and Italy while the UK is the 8th largest importer accounting for 3.6% of world coffee imports.