The history of cinnamon

cinnamonCinnamon is a perfect partner for coffee, and it’s often to be found sitting on the counter of coffee shops, ready to be sprinkled onto cappuccinos. Although it’s now commonly available, at one time it was prized for its rarity, as it was produced from the bark of only one tree, the cinnamonum zeylanicum which only grew in Sri Lanka. Modern cinnamon mostly comes from the cinnamonum cassia tree, which is far more widespread and is cultivated in a range of countries including Vietnam, Brazil and the West Indes.

The use of the spice as a medicine and a cooking ingredient dates back thousands of years. It was used medicinally as an aid to digestion and a remedy for colds and flu, and modern research has shown that it has anti-clotting and anti-microbial properties. These latter properties are what made it so efficient as a preserving agent, and for hundreds of years it was used to pickle, spice and flavour food.

Because of its value and rarity, it was an immensely important commodity, and the Portuguese, Dutch and English all tried to gain a monopoly in the 18th century.

Although it’s now commonly available, cinnamon remains relatively difficult to grow as it matures slowly. The tree is encouraged to shoot by careful pruning, and the shoots are trimmed and dried to harvest the bark, which is dried as cinnamon.

Today, the spice is still popular as a flavour, and along with nutmeg and cloves it’s a traditional ingredient of mulled wine, Christmas pudding and a range of other sweet and savoury ingredients. It also complements the taste of coffee made from freshly-ground coffee beans, and it’s often sprinkled over or added to coffee drinks.

At the Wholesale Coffee Company, we stock a delicious cinnamon-flavoured syrup for adding a quick, sweet spice hit to your coffee drinks. For more information and to see our whole range, please visit our coffee ingredients page.