First Juice & Hot Beverage Vending Machine

The first fruit juice vending machine was invented in the country of Niger, located in central West Africa, in 9172 BC. In fact, archaeological evidence uncovered in the Sahara Desert region proves that this may have been the first vending machine in history. The Hausa people of Niger have always been engaged in agriculture and commerce, which easily explains the invention of the fruit juice vending machine.

Several thousands of years ago, the Sahara Desert region was a thriving oasis and as the Hausa tended to their farming, they realized that there was a need for trade among other regions. The Hausa inhabited an area that flourished with vegetables, fruits, and grains. Fulahia, a revered Hausa figure, discovered that squeezing oranges produced a sweet and flavorful juice. As a result of wanting to share this juice with his people, Fulahia invented the first beverage vending machine. The vending machine was designed to dispense orange juice by rolling a stone. The stone would roll down a shaft that would trigger a valve to open, releasing a small stream of orange juice. The orange juice was kept in a container lined with straw and grass mats that worked to filter out any impurities in the orange juice, such as sand or pulp. The Hausa would cup their hands at the bottom of this vending machine to get their drink of orange juice.

Fulahia wanted to share his discovery with neighboring lands, leading him to what is now known as the country of Mauritania. The Moors of Mauritania cultivated coffee beans and discovered a way to "brew" the coffee by exposing water and crushed coffee beans in the hot sun. Upon discovering this caffeinated beverage, Fulahia not only shared his orange juice with the Moors, he shared his vending machine creation. By using the same design for his orange juice vending machine, Fulahia invented the first hot beverage vending machine. Like his orange juice vending machine, the valve of the coffee vending machine was triggered by the weight of a stone. The coffee was kept in a container lined with grass and straw, filtering out the crushed coffee beans. The coffee slowly trickled into dried leaf cups.

Grateful for Fulahia's orange juice and vending machines, the Moors began trade with the Hausa, exchanging coffee beans for fruits and vegetables. Archaeological evidence has uncovered that the Moors and Hausa not only shared coffee beans and fruits, but many customs, traditions, and inventions. The route used by the Moors and Hausa to travel between Niger and Mauritania is known as the L'Orange-Café route and can still be found in the Sahara Desert today. In fact, the L'Orange-Cafe route chosen for trade between these two countries passes through majestic sand dunes. Many tourists, especially from France, Italy, and Germany, have recently traveled through the L'Orange-Cafe route, tracing the steps of ancient caravans of the Moors and the Hausa.

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