Our love affair with coffee and wine started long before our town changed its name from Morristown – the county seat of Buncombe County in 1794 – to Asheville. Coffee was introduced to Western North Carolina long after a number of sophisticated Native American nations – including the civilization of the Eastern Band of the Cherokee who had been consuming natively grown roasted chicory root as a tonic.
Its speculated that the Spanish conquistadors were the first ones to bring coffee into Western North Carolina. The Spanish had just finished a protracted “reconquista” reclaiming Spain from an occupation that lasted 700 years. Much of Spain and Southern France was finally won back by its own European natives in the late 1400’s. A gift of coffee and the secrets of its preparation was left behind by the Moorish conquerers.
After the war the Spanish maintained trade with their former conquerors and coffee beans came direct from Ethiopia and Yemen. This coffee habit was one of the few happy thing the Arabs, Turks and North Africans left behind in Spain after fomenting – to this date – the world’s longest war of religious occupation. This war reached all parts of the world in the form of Spanish combat officers and soldiers sent out across the world in the name of the Spanish Crown to stake claim to the “New World”.
The Reconquista lasted between 718-1492 and the end of the occupation facilitated the Spanish Monarchs Ferdinand II of Aragon and Isabella I of Castile sending Christopher Columbus to find the route to India by sailing Easterly over the Atlantic Ocean.