Listening level: 3
Audio file: 2:21 min
Story length: 289 words


Here is the listening file for this lesson.



Here’s a story about money, power, and love. This is the story of coffee.

Nobody knows when coffee was first made. We do know that the coffee business started in the Middle East in the 1300s. By the 1600s, coffee was popular in Europe.

Some people in Europe wanted their own coffee trees. That was a problem. Coffee trees only grew in the Middle East. The people who controlled these trees didn’t want to sell them.

In the late 1600s, a Dutch company took some coffee seeds and planted them on some warm islands in Indonesia. Today, that country is the world’s fourth-largest coffee grower.

Some French people played an important role in spreading coffee around the world. In 1712, a French officer visited the French King. The King showed the officer a coffee tree. The officer asked for some seeds. The King said no. Later that night, the officer went to the garden, took some seeds, and planted them on a small island called Martinique.

Coffee trees in Martinique grew well. Over the next 100 years, seeds from these trees were planted in South and Central America. Today, 90% of all coffee in the world comes from Martinique trees.

The French helped Brazil start its coffee business, in a strange way. In 1727, Brazil sent a handsome man to a small country. After completing his work, he asked the French government for some coffee seeds. The French said no.

The young man made a plan. He had a secret love affair with the wife of the French leader. When he left the country, she gave him flowers. There were coffee seeds in the flowers. A gift from a secret girlfriend is how Brazil’s coffee industry started.

Coffee is a great drink. It also has a wonderful history filled with interesting stories.

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