The History of Online Specialty Grade Coffee Shops


General Warfield holding specialty grade coffee beans full of antioxidants

Coffee, one of the world's most beloved beverages, has a rich and fascinating history that spans centuries. Among its various varieties, Arabica coffee stands out as the most popular and highly prized species, known for its exceptional flavor and aroma. In recent years, the coffee industry has witnessed a significant transformation with the emergence of online specialty grade coffee shops, offering consumers access to a diverse selection of high-quality beans and a delightful coffee experience. In this article, we'll delve into the captivating history of Arabica coffee and explore the rise of the flourishing world of purchasing this cherished beverage online.

Part 1: The Origins of Arabica Coffee

General Warfield’s Coffee showing high altitude high quality farming tradition and history

No one truly knows, but Arabica coffee (Coffea arabica) is said to have its roots in the ancient coffee forests of Ethiopia as far back as 800 AD. According to legend, the discovery of coffee occurred in the 9th century when a young Ethiopian goatherder named Kaldi observed his goats becoming unusually energetic after consuming the red berries from a certain tree. Curiosity led Kaldi to try the berries himself, and he soon experienced the invigorating effects of coffee.

Over time, knowledge of coffee spread throughout the Arab world, where it gained significant popularity. By the 15th century, coffee had become a pivotal aspect of social and cultural life in the Middle East, with the establishment of the world's first known coffeehouse in the 1470's called "Kiva Han" in Constantinople (modern-day Istanbul) by two young Turks during the rule of the Ottoman Empire. Soon after, in the 16th century, coffee houses arose in cities such as Damascus (Siria), and Cairo, Egypt. These coffeehouses acted as centers for socialization, intellectual discussions, and entertainment.

Part 2: The Global Spread of Arabica Coffee

Depiction of a man drinking specialty-grade Arabica coffee from different regions of the world.

Arabica coffee production was initially limited to regions with the right climate, particularly the Arabica Belt, which includes countries like Ethiopia, Yemen, and Sudan. However, with the growth of global trade, coffee cultivation expanded to various regions, including Java (Indonesia) and the Caribbean. The spread of coffee plantations contributed to the global prominence of Arabica coffee as one of the most sought-after commodities worldwide.

The intoxicating allure of these beans eventually reached beyond the Arabica Belt. In the 17th century, European travelers and traders brought coffee back to their homelands, leading to the establishment of the first European coffeehouses in cities like Venice, London (over 300 coffeehouses existed by mid-century), and Paris, but not before Pope Clement VIII, born Ippolito Aldobrandini of Spain, gave the beverage approval after public suspicions arose about the drink. There was a brief push against the delicious brew that some people referred to as the "bitter invention of Satan" until the pope called the term off after enjoying the drink himself. 

Meanwhile, European coffeehouses quickly became hubs for intellectual discourse, political debates, artistic expression, and eventually brought it to the United States, but not without controversy. In fact, by 1773 the revolt against heavy British tea taxes, known as the "Boston Tea Party," would forever change Americans' preference from tea to coffee. 

Part 3: The Specialty Coffee Movement

Person holding high-altitude, high-quality specialty grade Arabica coffee bean on a sustainable farm

As coffee became increasingly commercialized, mass production and distribution led to a decrease in quality. However, in the late 20th century, a movement emerged to revive the art of coffee brewing and elevate the coffee experience. The specialty coffee movement focused on sourcing and roasting premium quality beans, promoting sustainable practices, and emphasizing the unique flavors and characteristics of different coffee origins.

Specialty grade coffee shops played a pivotal role in championing this movement. These establishments were dedicated to offering customers a personalized coffee experience, showcasing the diversity of flavors found in Arabica coffee through various brewing methods such as pour-over, French press, and espresso. Online specialty coffee shops further popularized this trend, making high-quality beans and artisanal brewing equipment accessible to coffee enthusiasts worldwide.

Part 4: The Rise of Online Specialty Grade Coffee Shops

Article image detailing the rise of online specialty grade coffee shops, highlighting internet-driven consumer access to single-origin Arabica beans and subscription services.

By the mid 1990's to the early 2000's the internet began to revolutionize the way people accessed consumer goods. Several years later, online specialty grade coffee shops began to emerge as a convenient and enticing option for coffee lovers seeking exceptional beans without the limitations of geographical barriers. Many of these virtual coffee retailers curated an extensive selection of single-origin Arabica beans, sourced directly from coffee-growing regions that directly reflected their beans unique and favorable terroirs. With the internet, consumers could simply click a button and have any coffee, from any origin, delivered directly to them without ever leaving their home. 

The benefits of purchasing coffee from online specialty shops are abundant. Customers gain access to detailed information about the coffee's origin, processing methods, flavor profiles, and even farmer stories. Furthermore, the beans are often freshly roasted to order, ensuring maximum freshness and flavor upon delivery to the customer's doorstep. Many online coffee shops also offer subscription plans, thus, eliminating the need to manually place multiple orders. They simply sign up once and their favorite specialty coffee is regularly delivered to them in equal intervals as they choose.

Part 5: Sustainability and Direct Trade

Sustainable Peruvian coffee farm in the Andes Mountains using sustainable organic farming and fair trade practices

In recent years, the specialty coffee industry has also been committed to promoting superior quality, ethical practices, and transparency via the Third Wave of Coffee movement. Many online specialty grade coffee shops emphasize direct trade relationships with coffee farmers, ensuring fair prices and better working conditions. This approach not only supports local communities, but also incentivizes farmers to produce higher-quality beans, enriching the overall coffee experience for everyone involved.


Arabica coffee's illustrious history, from its said discovery in Ethiopia to the global spread of online coffee culture, is a testament to its enduring appeal. The rise of online specialty grade coffee shops has added a new dimension to this fascinating journey, making high-quality beans accessible to coffee enthusiasts worldwide and fostering a deeper appreciation for the complexity and artistry of coffee brewing. Whether you are an avid coffee connoisseur or just beginning to explore the world of specialty coffee, the story of Arabica coffee and the flourishing realm of online specialty grade coffee shops is bound to captivate your taste buds and curiosity alike. So, brew a cup of your favorite General Warfield’s 100% Arabica specialty grade coffee, and savor the flavors as you embark on this delightful and aromatic voyage through history and taste.

Click the image below and try the best online specialty grade coffee today! 


Colombian whole bean pouches with mountainous background and golden sunset


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