I was quite surprised to learn that the word coffee came from Dutch! We borrowed it from them around the year 1600, and they got their word koffie from trading with the Italians, who got their word caffe from trading with the Turks, who got their word kahve from trading with the Arabs. It certainly was a popular bean! The Arabic word, qahwah, is a spot of confusion for etymologists. The main theory states that qahwah used to be a word for "wine", and got connected to the newer drink because both were brewed similarly and served heated in the area. This would be from the Proto-Semitic root k-m-r, meaning "to cover", in this case hot with water. However, that's contested, as another hypothesis traces the word coffee to the name for the Kaffa region of Ethiopia, where the plant was perhaps first cultivated. But, as aforementioned, this is a source of contention and we can't know for sure. Both Google Trends and Ngrams show the word coffee as being at its highest usage ever, as the beverage is in peak popularity.
Hello! I'm Adam Aleksic, a senior studying government and linguistics at Harvard University, where I co-founded the Harvard Undergraduate Linguistics Society. In addition to etymology, I also really enjoy trivia, politics, vexillology, geography, board games, conlanging, art history, and law.