Tracing Coffee’s Path from Origin to Office Ritual

The Origin of Coffee

Coffee cultivation began in the vast highlands of Ethiopia, where the temperate climate and ample rainfall provided ideal condition for Coffea Arabica plants to grow. The coffee plants produce white blossoms and after 6 to 8 months coffee cherries are produced. The cherries bright red colour signals they are ready to be harvested. Coffee beans have journeyed from many corners of the world to become a global staple, filling cups worldwide. Today, the aromatic, dark liquid is a pillar of corporate culture, connecting people and fuelling energy and creativity.

The coffee trade began on the Arabian Peninsula in the 15th century and spread to Persia, Egypt, Syria, and Turkey by the 16th century. Travelers and traders carried coffee seeds to new lands, planting coffee trees worldwide. Early European coffee houses became popular meeting places for businessmen, with some even birthing financial institutions that still exist today. The insurance company Lloyds of London originated from Lloyds Coffee Shop in the 18th century, where sailors and merchants met to discuss business matters.

In the 19th century, innovations in transportation and brewing technologies made coffee more accessible, leading to the popularity of higher quality coffee and variations such as cappuccinos and lattes. The rise of coffee shops often signaled the beginning of urban progression and gentrification, marking a shift from residential living to corporate urbanisation, a transition many nostalgically remember from their childhoods.

Today, coffee is more than just a beverage; it’s a ritual. A Mintel study found that while adults over 35 typically began drinking coffee between ages 18 and 20, younger consumers aged 18-24 started at an average age of 15. Social media influencers have used their platforms to drive this trend, marketing coffee and creating cult followings for various brands. The COVID-19 pandemic further influenced this shift, as many employees set up home coffee stations, investing in high-quality equipment to satisfy their caffeine cravings while working from home.

From Ethiopian Origins to the Corporate World

In the corporate world, productivity is crucial for success. One report highlighted that 46% of America’s workforce believes coffee helps them stay productive. Coffee improves alertness and cognitive ability by blocking adenosine, a chemical that induces tiredness. Additionally, coffee’s anti-inflammatory agents, kahweol and cafestol, protect the brain from oxidative stress. Google is a primary example of an organisation who have employed baristas serving high quality coffee for their employees marking their awareness of both the physical and psychological effect of provision of coffee for their employees. In-office coffee stations present an opportunity for socialisation which in turn can stimulate innovation and generation of new ideas.


The coffee industry is projected to grow at a compound annual rate of 4.6% from 2024 to 2032. The provision of high-quality coffee for employees is becoming an incentive in the corporate world marking the shift in priorities to employees looking for flexibility and benefits to foster a work life balance. The provision of free coffee should be considered fully by organisations and employees to mitigate the risks as well as to ensure it aligns with their corporate sustainability strategy.