The great majority of languages borrowed their word for coffee. Unlike the words for, say, milk or water, which developed within a given language family over thousands of years, the word for coffee hopped from one language to another, and within a relatively short period of time. That’s because coffee was a novel commodity. People picked up the word as they picked up a cup of the curious beverage at a coffeehouse or picked up bales of the beans en route from one trading port to another. To trace the history of the word, which encompasses the development of its many cognates, is to trace the routes of travelers, traders, and colonists in the early modern world—and beyond.
The word heard round the world.