The growth of coffee popularity in Asia
By the 1600’s, most coffee beans came from Yemen. Coffee beans were under strict surveillance and those in power did everything they could to ensure fertile beans could not be grown elsewhere. However, Baba Budan, a Muslim pilgrim, was about to change the path of coffee history forever. He left Mecca to return to India in 1600, smuggling a handful of coffee beans. With the help of British colonisers, these would become the seeds of the world’s first commercial coffee industry outside of Africa and Arabia, which still produces coffee today.
Coffee was first introduced to Indonesia in the late 1600’s by Dutch traders, and over the next century it would make its way to dozens of Indonesia’s many islands, such as Sulawesi, Sumatra, Java, and Bali. For a short period, several Indonesian islands were among the top coffee producers in the world.
Around the 1800s, coffee was cultivated in Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos by French colonisers. The Dutch were finally allowed to grow coffee in the latter half of the 17th century and were successful with their efforts on the island of Java, in what is now known as Indonesia. The plants thrived and the Dutch began to play a significant role in trading coffee.