The history of coffee goes at least as far back as the 10th century, with a number of reports and legends surrounding its first use. The native (undomesticated) origin of coffee is thought to have been Ethiopia. The earliest substantiated evidence of either coffee drinking or knowledge of the coffee tree is from the 15th century, in the Sufi monasteries of Yemen. By the 16th century, it had reached the rest of the Middle East, Persia, Turkey, Horn of Africa, and northern Africa. Coffee then spread to the Balkans, Italy and to the rest of Europe, to Indonesia and then to America.
The earliest credible evidence of either coffee drinking or knowledge of the coffee tree appears in the middle of the 15th century, in Yemen’s Sufi monasteries.
Coffee beans were first exported from Ethiopia to Yemen. Yemeni traders brought coffee back to their homeland and began to cultivate the bean.] The word qahwa originally meant wine, and Sufis in Yemen used the beverage as an aid to concentration and as a kind of spiritual intoxication when they chanted the name of God. Sufis used it to keep themselves alert during their nighttime devotions. A translation of Al-Jaziri’s manuscript traces the spread of coffee from Arabia Felix (the present day Yemen) northward to Mecca and Medina, and then to the larger cities of Cairo, Damascus, Baghdad, and Constantinople. By 1414, the beverage was known in Mecca, and in the early 1500s was spreading to the Mameluke Sultanate of Egypt and North Africa from the Yemeni port of Mocha. Associated with Sufism, a myriad of coffee houses grew up in Cairo (Egypt) around the religious University of the Azhar.
These coffee houses also opened in Syria, especially in the cosmopolitan city of Aleppo, and then in Istanbul, the capital of the Ottoman Empire, in 1554. In 1511, it was forbidden for its stimulating effect by conservative, orthodox imams at a theological court in Mecca. However, these bans were to be overturned in 1524 by an order of the Ottoman Turkish Sultan Suleiman I, with Grand Mufti Mehmet Ebussuud el-İmadi issuing a fatwa allowing the consumption of coffee. In Cairo, Egypt, a similar ban was instituted in 1532, and the coffeehouses and warehouses containing coffee beans were sacked. During the 16th century, it had already reached the rest of the Middle East, the Safavid Empire and the Ottoman Empire. From the Middle East, coffee drinking spread to Italy, then to the rest of Europe, and coffee plants were transported by the Dutch to the East Indies and to the Americas.
Similarly, coffee was banned by the Ethiopian Orthodox Church some time before the 18th century. However, in the second half of the 19th century, Ethiopian attitudes softened towards coffee drinking, and its consumption spread rapidly between 1880 and 1886; according to Richard Pankhurst, “this was largely due to Emperor Menilek, who himself drank it, and to Abuna Matewos who did much to dispel the belief of the clergy that it was a Muslim drink.”
The earliest mention of coffee noted by the literary coffee merchant Philippe Sylvestre Dufour is a reference to bunchum in the works of the 10th century CE Persian physician Muhammad ibn Zakariya al-Razi, known as Rhazes in the West, but more definite information on the preparation of a beverage from the roasted coffee berries dates from several centuries later. One of the most important of the early writers on coffee was Abd al-Qadir al-Jaziri, who in 1587 compiled a work tracing the history and legal controversies of coffee entitled Umdat al safwa fi hill al-qahwa عمدة الصفوة في حل القهو He reported that one Sheikh, Jamal-al-Din al-Dhabhani (d. 1470), mufti of Aden, was the first to adopt the use of coffee (circa 1454).
He found that among its properties was that it drove away fatigue and lethargy, and brought to the body a certain sprightliness and vigour.
Coffee was first introduced to Europe in the island of Malta in the 16th century, according to the tv documentary Madwarna. It was introduced there through slavery. Turkish muslim slaves had been imprisoned by the Knights of St John in 1565 – the year of the Great Siege of Malta, and they used to make their traditional beverage. Domenico Magri mentioned in his work Virtu del Kafé,
“..Turks, most skilful makers of this concoction”.
Also the German traveller Gustav Sommerfeldt in 1663 wrote “the ability and industriousness with which the Turkish prisoners earn some money, especially by preparing coffee, a powder resembling snuff tobacco, with water and sugar”. Coffee was a popular beverage in Maltese high society – many coffee shops opened.
Coffee was also noted in Aleppo by the German physician botanist Leonhard Rauwolf, the first European to mention it, as chaube, in 1573; Rauwolf was closely followed by descriptions from other European travellers.
The vibrant trade between the Republic of Venice and the Muslims in North Africa, Egypt, and the East brought a large variety of African goods, including coffee, to this leading European port. Venetian merchants introduced coffee-drinking to the wealthy in Venice, charging them heavily for the beverage. In this way, coffee was introduced to the mainland of Europe. The first European coffee house apart from those in the Ottoman Empire and in Malta was opened in Venice in 1645.
According to Leonhard Rauwolf’s 1583 account, coffee became available in England no later than the 16th century, largely through the efforts of the British East India Company and the Dutch East India Company. The first coffeehouse in England was opened in St. Michael’s Alley in Cornhill, London. The proprietor was Pasqua Rosée, the servant of Daniel Edwards, a trader in Turkish goods. Edwards imported the coffee and assisted Rosée in setting up the establishment. Oxford’s Queen’s Lane Coffee House, established in 1654, is still in existence today. By 1675, there were more than 3,000 coffeehouses throughout England, but there were many disruptions in the progressive movement of coffeehouses between the 1660s and 1670s. During the enlightenment, these early English coffee houses became gathering places used for deep religious and political discussions among the populace. This practice became so common, and potentially subversive, that Charles II made an attempt to crush coffee houses in 1675.
The banning of women from coffeehouses was not universal, for example, women frequented them in Germany, but it appears to have been commonplace elsewhere in Europe, including in England.
Many in this period believed coffee to have medicinal properties. A 1661 tract entitled “A character of coffee and coffee-houses”, written by one “M.P.”, lists some of these perceived benefits:
‘Tis extolled for drying up the Crudities of the Stomack, and for expelling Fumes out of the Head. Excellent Berry! which can cleanse the English-man’s Stomak of Flegm, and expel Giddinesse out of his Head.
This new commodity proved controversial among some subjects, however. For instance, the anonymous 1674 “Women’s Petition Against Coffee” declared:
The Excessive Use of that Newfangled, Abominable, Heathenish Liquor called COFFEE …has…Eunucht our Husbands, and Crippled our more kind Gallants, that they are become as Impotent, as Age.
Gabriel de Clieu brought coffee seedlings to Martinique in the Caribbean circa 1720. Those sprouts flourished and 50 years later there were 18,680 coffee trees in Martinique enabling the spread of coffee cultivation to Saint-Domingue (Haiti), Mexico and other islands of the Caribbean. The French territory of Saint-Domingue, saw coffee cultivated from 1734, and by 1788 it supplied half the world’s coffee. Coffee had a major influence on the geography of Latin America. The French colonial plantations relied heavily on African slave laborers. However, the dreadful conditions that the slaves worked in on coffee plantations were a factor in the soon-to-follow Haitian Revolution. The coffee industry never fully recovered there.
Coffee also found its way to the Isle of Bourbon, now known as Réunion, in the Indian Ocean. The plant produced smaller beans and was deemed a different variety of arabica known as var. Bourbon. The Santos coffee of Brazil and the Oaxaca coffee of Mexico are the progeny of that Bourbon tree. Circa 1727, the King of Portugal sent Francisco de Melo Palheta to French Guiana to obtain coffee seeds to become a part of the coffee market. Francisco initially had difficulty obtaining these seeds, but he captivated the French Governor’s wife and she sent him enough seeds and shoots to commence the coffee industry of Brazil. In 1893, the coffee from Brazil was introduced into Kenya and Tanzania (Tanganyika), not far from its place of origin in Ethiopia, 600 years prior, ending its transcontinental journey.
Meanwhile, coffee had been introduced to Brazil in 1727, although its cultivation did not gather momentum until independence in 1822. After this time, massive tracts of rainforest were cleared first from the vicinity of Rio and later São Paulo for coffee plantations.
After the Boston Tea Party of 1773, large numbers of Americans switched to drinking coffee during the American Revolution because drinking tea had become unpatriotic.
Cultivation was taken up by many countries in the latter half of the 19th century, and almost all involved the large-scale displacement and exploitation of the indigenous Indian people. Harsh conditions led to many uprisings, coups and bloody suppression of peasants. The notable exception was Costa Rica, where lack of ready labor prevented the formation of large farms. Smaller farms and more egalitarian conditions ameliorated unrest over the 19th and 20th centuries.
Brazil became the largest producer of coffee in the world by 1852 and it held that status ever since. It dominated world production, exporting more coffee than the rest of the world combined, from 1850 to 1950. The period since 1950 saw the widening of the playing field due to the emergence of several other major producers, most notably Colombia, Ivory Coast, Ethiopia, and, most recently, Vietnam, which overtook Colombia and became the second-largest producer in 1999 and reached 15% market share by 2011.
Visiting a coffee house is not the social occasion it once was apparently – Ted
Text from Wikipedia