Appears in

Oxford Companion to Food

Oxford Companion to Food

By Alan Davidson

Published 2014

  • About

coffee a beverage, and at one remove an important food flavouring, made from roasted beans of the coffee plant, mainly Coffea arabica. Other species are C. robusta (now reclassified as C. canephora), and a couple of minor ones suited to the climate of W. Africa.

The earliest written mention of the drink is in the work of Rhazes, an Arabian physician active in the 10th century, but cultivation may have begun several centuries earlier. A rich mythology, full of dancing goats and sleepy monks, was woven around the discovery of the plant in Arabia.