Knowledge brewing: A history of coffee in Tampa and around the world

TAMPA, Fl. - Many of us love that first cup of coffee in the morning. Some of us love a second, and even a third. But as you enjoy that java, think of the history.  And here’s a place that can help you. The Tampa Bay History Center is brewing up a little coffee education with a new exhibit entitled “Coffee: The World In Your Cup.”

For example, you’ll learn that coffee originates from Ethiopia more than a thousand years ago, and that coffee comes from the Turkish word qahwa, a word that once applied to wine. 

“Those of us who have our coffee every day know it can be a little addictive,” said History Center spokesman Manny Leto.

Leto also says the exhibit takes you a taste of all things ‘coffee.’

“From farm to cup, it’s really about the harvesting of coffee, the growing of coffee, but also how coffee  is consumed around the world,” said Leto.

Coffee has special appeal in Tampa because of our unique history. The coffee culture in Tampa is inspired by the influence of Cuban, Spanish and Italian cigar workers in the early 20th century.  Coffee was brought to the cigar rollers by guys called “cafeteros.”

“Bringing the coffee guy around to their benches was a way to keep them working longer, but also a neat little part of our cigar rolling history in Tampa,” said Leto.

At the coffee exhibit, you’ll find traditional displays of traditional Turkish and Ethiopian coffee sets, baskets and coffee sacks from around the world. There are photographs of farms around the world. The exhibit runs through January 6th at the Tampa Bay History Center.

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