Immortal Coffee Blog The History of Coffee Part 1

Billions of people drink coffee each and every day.  Making coffee (caffeine) the most widely consumed drug on the planet.  Coffee is the second most consumed beverage on the planet after water.

Qawah (Arabic) -> Kahve (Turkish) -> Koffie (Dutch) -> Coffee (English)

So what’s the history behind that ‘drug of choice’ we so heavily consume each morning?

Let’s trace the roots of coffee which began in Africa.

Legend has it that a goat herder named Kaldi saw his goats eating a mysterious red berry.  The goats were filled with joy and energy.  Kaldi then took the cherry-red berries tried them for himself and it had a similar effect.  Astonished by his discovery, Kaldi took these magical berries to a monk at a local monastery.  The monk disapproved of the berries as he thought they were an instrument of evil, and so he then threw the berries into a fire.  As the berries burned and cracked over the fire, they began to produce a captivating aroma.  Curious about the beans that were leftover, they were ground up and dissolved into hot water, thus making the first cup of coffee.

It is said that a traveler from Ethiopia introduced coffee in Yemen.
At the time coffee was used by a specific sect of Islam to help them stay awake for prayer.

It was not until the 1400s that the first coffee houses appeared in the Arabian Peninsula called qahveh khaneh.  People would gather to play games, listen to music, and have heated political debates.  Coffee houses quickly spread throughout the Arabian Peninsula, Turkey, and Persia.  Originating in trade from the port city of Al Mokha in Yemen, known today as the city of Mocha.  Yes, this is the origin of the name Café Mocha.

As the popularity of coffee houses grew in the Islamic world, it was seen by religious and ruling elites as a place of evil and rebellion.   Certain cities such as Mecca in 1511 and Cairo in 1532 banned coffee houses.  By the 1580s and 1590s as the Italians increasingly engaged in trade with the Arab world, coffee made its way to Europe.  The Italians began fine tuning the art of coffee brewing.

In the 1620s the Dutch smuggled coffee out of Yemen.  At the time, this was an offense punishable by death.  These brave men were willing to risk their lives over this precious commodity.  Coffee was then shipped to India, Sumatra, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, and the port of Java (another term you might be familiar with).  By the 1640s the Dutch East Indies Trading Company had brought coffee to the Netherlands and Koffie houses began opening.

Once considered the devils drink, since it was popularized in Arab culture, it was widely shunned by Christians in the West.

It was not until Pope Clement the 8th tried coffee for himself and baptized coffee that it became more widely accepted.  During this time wine and beer were more widely consumed than even water in everyday life in Europe.  It was not until the 17th century when coffee started replacing alcohol as the beverage of choice for breakfast.

British coffee shops in the 17th century were Called Penny Universities, because for a penny you could get a cup of coffee and have an intellectual discussion.  Not coincidentally the age of enlightenment coincides with the rise of coffee in popularity.  Makes complete sense considering people were caffeinated instead of intoxicated on a regular basis.  However, rulers in Europe at the time saw this new found sobering of the public gave rise to much political unrest and began to ban coffee houses.

The French, Dutch, and Portuguese played a pivotal role in bringing coffee to the western world.  In the 1700s the French took it to the Caribbean, the Dutch to Suriname, the Portuguese to Brazil, and the Spanish throughout much of Central and South America.

Legend has it that in 1714 the Mayor of Amsterdam gifted a coffee plant to the King of France.  The King had it planted in the Royal Botanical Garden in Paris.  In 1723 French Naval Officer Gabriel de Cliure took a small coffee plant on the treacherous voyage across the Atlantic Ocean.  This coffee plant was of such value that de Cliure nurtured the coffee plant during the voyage, rationing the limited water supply he needed to stay alive, between himself and the coffee plant.  Risking his life to ensure safe passage of coffee to the new world.  Upon arrival he planted it in the French colony of Martinique and it was this coffee plant that gave rise to the millions of coffee plants in Central and South America.  Some attribute this plant as a genetic bottleneck which makes coffee in the Western Hemisphere more susceptible to disease versus the thousands of species and subspecies in East Africa.

In full disclosure to all of the history ‘buffs’ out there.  Some say that the Dutch had already taken coffee to Suriname and it was already growing in the French colony of Saint Domingue which is modern day Haiti.

In the 18th century tea had gained more popularity in Britain and coffee exploded in popularity in America as the Colonists boycotted tea.  Making coffee a truly American freedom beverage.

We will discuss more about The History of Coffee in Part 2 coming soon!  Remember to #MakeCoffeeNotExcuses and Drink Immortal Coffee.  The No Crash Coffee.





Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published