The coffee tree, along with tobacco, sugar cane, and cotton, was a crop that was cultivated by slaves in the Americas, linking black life to the history of the plant’s massive influence in modern culture. The plant itself is linked to Africa – it was discovered and taken from northeastern Africa (many sources say Ethiopia specifically) in the 17th century.
According to Specialty Coffee Association (SCA), Coffee arabica – the most widely consumed form of coffee – “originated in the forests of Ethiopia and South Sudan, then spread around the world for the production of its seeds.”
The legends say the same thing: according to the famous writer Alexandre Dumas, the coffee tree is native to Yemen, just across the Red Sea from Ethiopia. Another popular legend says that it was discovered by a goat herder named Kaldi in the hills of Ethiopia. One thing is certain, it is that the coffee tree, in its consumed grape varieties, is native to Africa.
“This led me down the rabbit hole in the weird world of third wave coffee,” said Maurice Henderson of Cxffee Black in an interview. “The further I went, however, the more I realized that I was often one of the few people of color in these spaces, and that intrigued me.”
But there are many brands of coffee that can allow coffee drinkers to connect with the history of the drink, support a black-owned business, and enjoy a delicious cup of coffee. Here are 19 great options.