Although coffee was drunk centuries ago in Ethiopia it did not come to Europe until the seventeenth century. Soon ‘coffee houses’ were to be seen in every city, the first in London being opened in 1652. These coffee houses became fashionable places where people met, and the famous Lloyd’s insurance association started in one in about 1688. Until the end of the seventeenth century coffee came from the region of the Yemen in Arabia. Other countries, however, wished to see if they, too, could grow the plant. Several trees were taken to French Guiana where they flourished, and soon the country was making a great deal of money by exporting coffee beans to South America. The plants were well guarded, however, and several people who tried to smuggle cuttings from the country were arrested. Usually the distinctive smell of the coffee flowers gave the officials an indication of what was happening. Brazil was one of the countries that wanted to grow coffee and a handsome officer in her army was set to French Guiana with orders to bring back a plant, at any cost. The officer proceeded to flatter the governor’s wife and through her obtained a cutting. Hiding this in a bouquet of flowers to mask its aroma, he sailed for home. Today about one-third of the entire world’s production of coffee comes from Brazil.
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