Monday, December 31, 2007

The History of Coffee by Mark Pendergast

The History of Coffee by Mark Pendergast

Creation Myth (c. 600 CE) Kaldi, an Ethiopian goatherd, is puzzled by his hyperactive goats; they are eating leaves and berries from a strange tree with glossy green leaves. Coffee is discovered. Cultivation soon spreads to Yemen.

c. 900 Arab physician Rhazes first mentions coffee in print, as a medicine.

c. 1400 In elaborate ceremony, Ethiopians roast, grind, and brew coffee beans. Coffee as we know it is born.

1475 Kiva Han, the world's first coffeehouse, is opened in Constantinople.

1511 Khair-Beg, governor of Mecca, bans coffeehouses when seditious verses are written about him there. The ban is reversed by Cairo sultan.

1538 Ottoman Turks occupy Yemen and parboil coffee beans (to render them infertile and maintain their monopoly) and export them from Mocha, hence coffee's nickname "mocha."

c. 1600 Pressured by advisors to condemn infidel coffee (imported through Venice), Pope Clement VIII instead blesses it.

1616 Dutch pirates spirit away coffee trees to a greenhouse in Holland. Around the same time Baba Budan smuggles fertile seeds to Mysore in India.

1650 A Lebanese Ottoman Jewish student named Jacobs [1] opens first [2] European coffeehouse at Oxford University, England. Over the next half century, coffee takes Europe by storm; coffeehouses are called "penny universities."

1658 The Dutch plant and cultivate coffee in Ceylon, later in Java and Sumatra, ultimately giving coffee the nickname "java."

1669 The Turkish ambassador to Paris, Soliman Aga, introduces coffee at sumptuous parties.

1674 In London, the Women's Petition Against Coffee claims that coffee renders their men impotent; men counter that coffee adds "spiritualescency to the Sperme." The following year, King Charles II fails in his attempt to ban coffeehouses.

1683 After their failed siege of Vienna, the Turks flee, leaving coffee beans behind. Franz George Kolschitzky uses the beans to open a café, where he filters coffee and adds milk.

1689 Café de Procope is opened in Paris opposite Comedie Francaise.

1710 Instead of boiling it, the French pour hot water through grounds in cloth bag for the first infusion brewing.

1723 Gabriel Mathieu de Clieu brings a coffee tree to Martinique; most of the coffee in Latin America descends from this tree.

1727 Francisco de Melho Palheta seduces the governor's wife in French Guiana; she gives him ripe coffee cherries to take back to Brazil.

1732 Johann Sebastian Bach writes the Coffee Cantata, in which a rebellious daughter demands her coffee.

1773 During the Boston Tea Party, rebellious American colonists throw British tea imports overboard; coffee drinking becomes a patriotic act.

1781 Frederick the Great forbids most Prussian coffee roasting, saying, "My people must drink beer."

1791 A slave revolt on San Domingo (Haiti) destroys coffee plantations, where half the world's coffee had been grown.

1806 Napoleon declares France self-sufficient and promotes chicory over coffee.

1850 James Folger arrives in San Francisco during the Gold Rush and makes his fortune from coffee.

1864 American Jabez Burns invents an efficient, self-dumping roaster.

1869 Coffee rust fungus, hemileia vastatrix, appears in Ceylon and soon wipes out the East Indies coffee industry.

1871 John Arbuckle opens a coffee factory in New York and makes millions from his pre-roasted, packaged, and branded Ariosa coffee.

1878 Caleb Chase and James Sanborn form Chase & Sanborn.

1881 The New York Coffee Exchange opens.

1892 Joel Cheek invents Maxwell House Coffee blend in Nashville, Tennessee.

1900 Hills Brothers introduces vacuum-packed canned coffee. Tokyo chemist Sartori Kato introduces instant coffee; it is sold the following year at the Pan American Exposition.

1901 Italian Luigi Bezzera invents first commercial espresso machine.

1906 In Bremen, Germany, Ludwig Roselius patents Kaffee Hag, the first decaffeinated coffee. In France, it is called Sanka (from sans caffeine).

1908 German housewife Melitta Bentz makes a coffee filter using her son's blotting paper.

1911 The National Coffee Roasters Association is founded; it later becomes the National Coffee Association.

1918 The U. S. Army requisitions all of G. Washington's instant coffee for troops in World War I.

1920 Prohibition of alcohol enacted in USA, making coffee and coffeehouses even more popular.

1938 Nestle introduces Nescafé, an improved instant coffee, just before World War II. Maxwell House follows with its instant brand.

1946 U.S. per capita coffee consumption reaches 19.8 pounds.

1960 The Colombian Coffee Federation debuts the character of Juan Valdez, the humble coffee grower, with his mule.

1965 Boyd Coffee introduces the Flav-R-Flo brewing system, pionerring the filter and cone home brewer.

1966 Dutch immigrant Alfred Peet opens Peet's Coffee in Berkeley, California, at what is considered the beginning of the specialty coffee revolution.

1970 Italian Luigi Goglio invents a one-way valve to let coffee de-gas without contact with oxygen.

1971 Jerry Baldwin, Zev Siegl, and Gordon Bowker open Starbucks in Seattle.

1975 The Black Frost in Brazil decimates the coffee harvest, leading to high prices over the next two years.

1982 The national charter for the Specialty Coffee Association of America (SCAA) is created; specialty coffee companies are invited to join as "charter members."

1987 Howard Schultz buys Starbucks and begins to turn it into a worldwide specialty coffee chain.

1988 In the Netherlands, the Max Havelaar seal certifies Fair Trade coffee. Transfair USA follows suit in 1999.

2006 Specialty coffee accounts for 40% of the U. S. retail coffee market.

2007 The 25th anniversary of the founding of the Specialty Coffee Association of America is celebrated. Coffee is the world's second most valuable legal traded commodity, after oil.


[1] Not to be confused with Johann Jacobs who opened a coffee and tea shop in Bremen, Germany, in 1895.

The first person recorded in history to brew coffee in England was an international student named Nathaniel Conopios from Crete, who was studying at Balliol College, Oxford. This simple act, which happened in May 1637, was recorded by both scholar John Evelyn and historian Anthony Wood. Although shortly afterwards Conopios was expelled from college, his influence had a lasting effect on Oxford, as it was in Oxford that the first English coffeehouse was opened in 1650 by Jacob, a Lebanese Jew. Even though Jacob moved to London a few years later to repeat his success, he had begun a trend that saw many more coffeehouses open in Oxford during that decade.

John Evelyn, who was at the college at this time, recorded the strange occurance in a diary entry in May 1637: "There came in my time to the College one Nathaniel Conopios, out of Greece, sent into England, from Cyril, the patriarch of Constantinople… He was the first I ever saw drink Caffe, not heard of then in England, nor till many years after made a common entertainment all over the nation."

Around the same time as Conopios, Robert Burton, an Oxford don, made a reference to coffee in his massive, genius Anatomy of Melancholy: "The Turks have a drink called coffa (for they use no wine), so named of a berry black as soot, and as bitter (like that black drink which was in use among the Lacedaemonians, and perhaps the same), which they sip still of, and sup as warm as they can suffer; they spend much time in those coffa-houses, which are somewhat like our alehouses or taverns, and there they sit chatting and drinking to drive away the time..."

1 comment:

Maria said...

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