Understanding coffee history and how this helps the coffee industry

Coffee is a global product influencing millions of lives. From crop to cup, its production faces challenges ranging from environmental conservation to economic equality. Professor Jonathan Morris’s research has given him an encyclopaedic knowledge of all things coffee. He works with the coffee industry to help organizations understand coffee’s heritage and ensure its sustainability.

In his book, Coffee: A global history, Professor Morris identifies five eras of coffee history, from its origins in modern day Ethiopia to the specialty beverage of today.

  1. Wine of Islam,
  2. Colonial Good,
  3. Industrial Product,
  4. Global Commodity,
  5. Specialty Beverage.

In each era new formats for ‘outside the home’ coffee drinking emerged, and these contributed to the international coffee shop format of today.

Companies and organizations within the coffee industry recognise the importance and value to their businesses of understanding the heritage of coffee. Consequently, Professor Morris has worked with Nestlé Nespresso, Gruppo Cimbali which makes the iconic FAEMA espresso machine and Mulmar Foodservice Solutions which imports FAEMA machines to the UK.

Nespresso saw the benefit of educating their staff in the History of Coffee and asked Professor Morris to create a module for their university-accredited diploma. The module covers the five eras of coffee in some depth. It launched in 2018 with the first cohort graduating in 2019.

Grab a coffee and read more about this research in the REF2021 case study.


Further reading