Coffee Snobology’s Coffee Etymology

What’s in a name? History, culture, quirky trivia – you name it! That’s what inspired Jerry Hill to establish Fun Facts About Names Day (Monday on the first full week of March). His idea was a day dedicated to “celebrate names by learning more about them.” Here at Coffee Snobology we like to celebrate, so we wondered:  How did coffee get its name?

Let’s start in the present and trip backwards…

Coffee in English derived from the Italian caffe` and the French cafe`. The French and Italian names evolved out of the Germanic kaffee, the origin of which is attributed to the Arabic word, qahwa. This word’s etymology referred to a psychoactive beverage, also inclusive of wine. (Mind bottling, isn’t it?) From here coffee may have derived from the Turkish kahve, and finally we settle in the legendary dancing goat Kingdom of Kaffa, Ethiopia. Although somewhere in this later timeline more stories of name origin trace their roots near the Arabian shipping port of  Mocca.  And along the way, in the land between the then of little historical notation and the now of diluted documentation, came more names, such as the Ukrainian kaba and the Polish kawa.  

Well, however “coffea of the madder family” got its name, you can be sure its offspring, latte and macchiato don’t fall far from the tree.

NOTE: For Coffee Snobology’s take on the origins of the coffee snob, refer to the 7/25/2010 post in the Book Excerpts category: Evolution of the Coffee Snob.

w/ (A Canadian men’s magazine);; And of course, Funk & Wagnalls New Encyclopedia, Volume 6. MCMLXXI, MCMLXXV, MCMLXXIX.



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