History and Origins of Your Favorite Beverage

Humankind settled down, in part, to grow crops used for beverages

Friends toasting iced tea glasses at outdoor table

Getty Images/Cavan Images

Historians theorize that humankind's fondness for beer and other alcoholic beverages was a factor in our evolution away from groups of nomadic hunters and gathers into an agrarian society that would settle down to grow crops, which they could use to produce alcoholic beverages. Of course, not everyone wanted to drink alcohol.

After the invention of alcoholic drinks, humans began to develop, harvest and gather other forms of nonalcoholic drinks. Some of these beverages eventually included coffee, milk, soft drinks, and even Kool-Aid. Read on to learn the interesting history of many of these beverages.


Friends toasting with glasses of light beer at the pub.

Getty Images/Witthaya Prasongsin

Beer was the first alcoholic beverage known to civilization: however, who drank the first beer is unknown. Indeed, the first product humans made from grain and water before learning to make bread was beer. The drink has been a well-established part of human culture for millennia. For example, 4,000 years ago in Babylon, it was an accepted practice that for a month after the wedding, the bride's father would supply his son-in-law with all the mead or beer he could drink.


Elevated view of champagne flutes
Jamie Grill / Getty Images

Most countries restrict the use of the term Champagne to only those sparkling wines produced in the Champagne region of France. That part of the country has an interesting history:

"As far back as the times of the Emperor Charlemagne, in the ninth century, Champagne was one of the great regions of Europe, a rich agricultural area that was famous for its fairs. Today, thanks to a type of sparkling wine to which the region has given its name, the word Champagne is known worldwide — even if many of those who know the drink do not know exactly where it comes from.​"


Espresso shot pouring out.
Guido Mieth / Getty Images

Culturally, coffee is a major part of Ethiopian and Yemenite history. This significance dates back as many as 14 centuries, which is when coffee was thought to have been discovered in Yemen (or Ethiopia, depending on who you ask). Whether coffee was first used in Ethiopia or Yemen is a topic of debate and each country has its own myths, legends, and facts about the popular beverage.


Young Girl Helping her Mother Pour Juice for her Friends

Getty Images/stphillips

Edwin Perkins was always fascinated by chemistry and enjoyed inventing things. When his family moved to southwest Nebraska at the turn of the twentieth century, young Perkins experimented with homemade concoctions in his mother’s kitchen and created the drink that eventually became Kool-Aid. The forerunner to Kool-Aid was Fruit Smack, which was sold via mail order in the 1920s. Perkins renamed the drink Kool-Ade and then Kool-Aid in 1927.


Close-Up Of Milk Glasses
Sasta Fotu / EyeEm / Getty Images

Milk-producing mammals were an important part of early agriculture in the world. Goats were among human's earliest domesticated animals, first adapted in western Asia from wild forms about 10,000 to 11,000 years ago. Cattle were domesticated in the eastern Sahara by no later than 9,000 years ago. Historians think that at least one primary reason for this process was to make a source of meat easier to get than by hunting. Using cows for milk was a by-product of the domestication process.

Soft Drinks

Close-Up Of Fresh Lemonade
Laura Waskiewicz / EyeEm / Getty Images

The first marketed soft drinks (non-carbonated) appeared in the seventieth century. They were made from water and lemon juice sweetened with honey. In 1676, the Compagnie de Limonadiers of Paris was granted a monopoly for the sale of lemonade soft drinks. Vendors would carry tanks of lemonade on their backs and dispensed cups of the soft drink to thirsty Parisians.


High Angle View Of Green Tea Bag In Cup On Table
Jasmin Awad / EyeEm / Getty Images

The most popular beverage in the world, tea was first drunk under the Chinese Emperor Shen-Nung around 2737 B.C. An unknown Chinese inventor created the tea shredder, a small device that shredded tea leaves in preparation for drinking. The tea shredder used a sharp wheel in the center of a ceramic or wooden pot that would slice the leaves into thin strips.

mla apa chicago
Your Citation
Bellis, Mary. "History and Origins of Your Favorite Beverage." ThoughtCo, Aug. 28, 2020, thoughtco.com/history-and-origins-of-your-favorite-beverage-1991357. Bellis, Mary. (2020, August 28). History and Origins of Your Favorite Beverage. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/history-and-origins-of-your-favorite-beverage-1991357 Bellis, Mary. "History and Origins of Your Favorite Beverage." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/history-and-origins-of-your-favorite-beverage-1991357 (accessed March 22, 2023).