Coffee is as much a part of American culture as are blue jeans and rock-n-roll. Although getting a late start on the coffee wagon, the US has since revolutionized the coffee scene, from the introduction of Starbucks to the modern resurgence in coffee rituals and expertise.
Coffee’s genesis, like most foods, is a story tangled within centuries-old folklore. A popular legend tells of a goat herder named Kaldi who is said to have discovered coffee beans on the Ethiopian plateau hundreds of years ago. His goats, which snacked on the ancient fruit-bearing shrubs, galloped around filled with energy. Testing the fruit himself, Kaldi had a similar reaction, disclosing his discovery with a local monastery. The abbot – who made a beverage from the red berry – shared the drink with other monks, and knowledge of the natural stimulant quickly spread across the continent.
Before a modern version of coffee appeared, its cherry-like fruit was used in a variety of preparations, some of which included wine-like substances. By the 15th century, coffee was being cultivated and traded in Arabia, and its beans – stripped from its pulp exterior – were roasted and brewed. Public coffee houses, called qahveh khaneh, sprang up across the east as places where people could exchange information over a cup of the much-loved potion. Traveling to Europe, coffee quickly became the morning beverage of choice over beer and wine, and by the mid-1600s, there were over 300 coffee houses in London – often frequented by famous artists, writers, and intellects.
Coffee was finally brought to the New World by the British in the mid-17th century. Coffee houses were popular, but it wasn’t until the Boston Party in 1773 that America’s coffee culture was changed forever: the revolt against King George III generated a mass switch from tea to coffee amongst the colonists. The demand for coffee flourished, and after the Dutch had secured coffee seedlings towards the end of the 1600s, coffee cultivation expanded outside of Arabia for the first time. Travelers and traders carried seeds to new lands, and coffee trees were planted across the globe.
By the 18th century, coffee had become one of the world’s most profitable commodities. Consumption and popularity in the US increased, especially during the Civil War, and savvy businessmen were looking for a way to profit from it. In 1864, Pittsburgh-born brothers John and Charles Arbuckle began selling pre-roasted coffee by the pound, getting rich by selling it to cowboys in the West. James Folger, who sold coffee to gold miners in California, also saw great success. Several other big name coffee brands, including Maxwell House and Hills Brothers, quickly followed suit. Post-war, instant coffee was introduced to the market and remained popular until Starbucks opened in Seattle in 1971. Starbucks made coffee geographically available to people across America, tailoring the beverage to the unique palate of every customer.
Today, the coffee revolution continues to grow. A grass-roots movement that started in small, independently owned coffee shops is refining what Starbucks gave us: it’s now an artistic craft – much like that of wine or beer – that uses sustainable, locally roasted, fair trade beans. Where the beans are grown, how they are roasted, and the brewing process are all looked at closely. This coffee expertise is growing amongst young people, many using it as training for the culinary world. As much as a string of fresh rosemary or a juicy, ripe tomato bear a myriad of complex flavors, coffee does, too.
Destinations Unlocked:Let our travel expert Stefano help you find your perfect Culture trip
Looking for an expert's perspective?Uncover my top 3 recommended places from each continent on the map.
1. GuatemalaAn express adventure for those with limited time off. Prepare yourself incredible experiences. You will hike a volcano, visit mayan temples and witness a ceremony and take in beautiful colonial Antigua.
2. BelizeA quick trip not too far away for those seeking a relaxing mini break. You will have plenty of free time to relax but also some awesome activities to experience the rainforest and the caribbean sea.
3. MexicoAn exciting mini trip exploring the lesser known colonial towns of central Mexico. This is hte perfect trip for someone with limited time off and still wants to turn on explorer mode and do something different.
1. EcuadorA remarkable 8 days adventure through the Andes and the Amazon rainforest. The best choice for adventure seekers wishing to visit the 2 most iconic areas of South America, in only 1 week and no flights.
2. PeruAn alternative itinerary to classic Peru, from Cusco to Arequipa. This itinerary is great combination of highlights Cusco and Machu Picchu with the lesser known Arequipa and Colca Canyon.
1. ItalyThe ultimate Italian experience from the vibrant streets of Naples to the breathtaking sceneries of the Amalfi Coast followed by Matera and down to Puglia with its golden beaches, intense flavours and fascinating destinations.
2. ScotlandEmbark on this great adventure starting from London all the way to Scotland with a true Scottish experience made of breathtaking sceneries, whisky tasting and ..lots of fun! Ideal for train lovers and explorers.
3. PortugalA wonderful train journey around Portugal, from the romantic city of Porto to the Douro Valley, to the beautiful Aveiro all the way to Lisbon and Sintra. The perfect trip to train, culinary and culture lovers.
1. South KoreaDiscover incredible temples, mountains and modern cities on this 10 day adventure. This trip is perfect for those seeking immersion in the cuisine, culture and natural wonders of South Korea.
2. ThailandFrom Bankgok to Angkor Wat to Ho Chi Minh City and everything in between - adventure through the heart of South-East Asia. Taste the delights, see history brought to life and unwind on a Mekong River cruise.
3. Sri LankaA fantastic adventure that showcases Sri Lanka's fantastic landscapes, wildlife and flavours. With 3 epic rail journeys, 3 UNESCO heritage sites and time to relax, this trip has loads to offer at a great price
1. MoroccoAn epic journey across Morocco: from Casablanca to Marrakech, through the blue city of Chefchaouen to the wonders of the desert and deep to the High Atlas Mountains - this trip has it all! Ideal for true explorers!
2. EgyptFrom Cairo to Aswan, this trip brings the land of the pharaohs to life. You'll visit the Pyramids, Valley of the Kings and Luxor Temple and cruise down the Nile in style. This is the perfect way to explore Egypt.
Volcanic Iceland Epic Trip
meet our Local Insider
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WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT YOUR JOB?
It's the personal contact, the personal experiences. I love meeting people from all over the world... I really like getting to know everyone and feeling like I'm traveling with a group of friends.
WHAT DESTINATION IS ON YOUR TRAVEL BUCKET-LIST?
I have so many places on my list, but I would really lobe to go to Africa. I consider myself an “adventure girl” and Africa feels like the ULTIMATE adventure!
Every CULTURE TRIP Small-group adventure is led by a Local Insider just like Hanna.
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Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.
Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.
Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.
Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.
We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.