Coffee is a brewed drink prepared from roasted coffee beans, the seeds of berries from certain Coffea species. The genus Coffea is native to tropical Africa (specifically having its origin in Ethiopia and Sudan) and Madagascar, Comoros, Mauritius, and Réunion in the Indian Ocean. Coffee plants are now cultivated in over 70 countries, primarily in the equatorial regions of the Americas, Southeast Asia, India, and Africa. The two most commonly grown are C. arabica and C. robusta. Once ripe, coffee berries are picked, processed, and dried. Dried coffee seeds (referred to as "beans") are roasted to varying degrees, depending on the desired flavor. Roasted beans are ground and then brewed with near-boiling water to produce the beverage known as coffee.
Coffee is darkly colored, bitter, slightly acidic, and has a stimulating effect on humans. Today, coffee is one of the most popular beverages worldwide. It can be prepared and presented in a variety of ways (e.g., espresso, French press, caffè latte). It is usually served hot, although iced coffee is also served. Clinical studies indicate that moderate coffee consumption is benign or mildly beneficial in healthy adults, with continuing research on whether long-term consumption lowers the risk of some diseases, although those long-term studies are of generally poor quality.
The earliest credible evidence of coffee drinking appears in modern-day Yemen in southern Arabia in the middle of the 15th century in Sufi shrines. It was here in Arabia that coffee seeds were first roasted and brewed, in a similar way to how it is now prepared. Coffeehouses were also established in Mecca at this time.
Coffee then spread to Egypt and North Africa, and by the 16th century, it had reached Persia, Turkey, and India. From there, it traveled to Europe and the rest of the world. The word "coffee" entered the English language in 1582 via the Dutch koffie, borrowed from the Ottoman Turkish kahve, borrowed in turn from the Arabic qahwah.
The first coffeehouses in Western Europe appeared in Venice, as a result of the traffic between La Serenissima and the Ottomans. The first one is recorded in 1645. The first London coffeehouse was opened in 1652 by Pasqua Rosée, originally from Constantinople. Coffeehouses in England quickly spread to become popular places not just for drinking coffee, but also for reading, writing, socializing, and even conducting business.
In 1675, Edward Lloyd's coffeehouse became a well-known meeting place for sailors, merchants, and shipowners, and it was here that insurance contracts were developed that led to the formation of Lloyd's of London.