There is no history of mankind, there are only many histories of all kinds of aspects of human life. —Karl Popper, Austrian philosopher
Coffee: a vibrant Story. in this article, we seek the story behind coffee and how it become so popular from East to West; from Coast to Coast. trying to find out and generate: A Brief history of coffee & coffeehouses.
Coffee’s stimulating effect had been known about for some time in the Arab world, where coffee originated. There are several romantic stories of its discovery. One tells of an Ethiopian goatherd who noticed that his flock became particularly frisky after consuming the brownish-purple cherries from a particular tree. He then tried eating them himself, noted their stimulating powers, and passed his discovery on to a local imam. The imam, in turn, devised a new way to prepare the berries, drying them and then boiling them in water to produce a hot drink, which he used to keep himself awake during overnight religious ceremonies.
Another story tells of a man named Omar who was condemned to die of starvation in the desert outside Mocha, a city in Yemen, on the southwestern corner of the Arabian peninsula. A vision-guided him to a coffee tree, whereupon he ate some of its berries. This gave him sufficient strength to return to Mocha, where his survival was taken as a sign that God had spared him in order to pass along to humankind knowledge of coffee, which then became a popular drink in Mocha. The custom of drinking coffee seems to have first become popular in Yemen in the mid-fifteenth century.
The practice of making coffee berries into a drink seems to be a Yemeni innovation, often attributed to Muhammad al-Dhabhani, a scholar and a member of the mystical Sufi order of Islam. coffee had undoubtedly been adopted by Sufis, who used it to ward off sleep during nocturnal religious ceremonies in which the participants reached out to God through repetitive chanting and swaying.
Coffee in the Age of Islam:
The wise man should drink coffee, the friends of God and His servants, the sad, the bad even the mad should drink it. To God’s glory let us celebrate. ¨Oh, Coffee, you dispel the worries of the Great, you point the way to those who have wandered from the path of knowledge. Coffee is the drink of the friends of God, and of His servants who seek wisdom.
No one can understand the truth until he drinks of its frothy goodness. Those who condemn coffee as causing man harm are fools in the eyes of God. Coffee is the common man’s gold, and like gold, it brings to every man the feeling of luxury and nobility…
Take time in your preparations of coffee and God will be with you and bless you and your table. Where coffee is served there is grace and splendor and friendship and happiness. All cares vanish as the coffee cup is raised to the lips. Coffee flows through your body as freely as your life’s blood, refreshing all that it touches: look you at the youth and vigor of those who drink it. Whoever tastes coffee will forever forswear the liquor of the grape. Oh drink of God’s glory, your purity brings to man only well-being and nobility¨. (Sheikh Ansari, 1587)
When coffee had reached Mecca and Cairo by 1510—the exact nature of its physical effects became the subject of much controversy. Coffee shook off its original religious associations and became a social drink, sold by the cup on the street, in the market square, and then in dedicated coffeehouses.
By the mid-sixteenth century, the drink had become so popular that drinkers in Constantinople, Cairo, and Mecca formed special areas in which to drink it: the world’s first coffeehouses. Such establishments became centers for playing chess and other games, discussing the news of the day, singing, dancing, making music, and, of course, drinking Coffee. Known as “schools of the cultured,” these gathering places became popular with all classes and increased in number quickly.
Coffee stand trial for its intoxicating effects
coffee’s legal status was ambiguous. Some Muslim scholars objected that it was intoxicating and therefore subject to the same religious prohibition as wine and other alcoholic drinks, which the prophet Muhammad had prohibited.
Religious leaders invoked this rule in Mecca in June 1511, the earliest known of several attempts to ban the consumption of coffee.
The local governor, a man named Kha’ir Beg, who was responsible for maintaining public morality, literally put the coffee on trial. He convened a council of legal experts and placed the accused — a large vessel of coffee — before them. After a discussion of its intoxicating effects, the council agreed with the morality guard, that the sale and consumption of coffee should be prohibited. The ruling was proclaimed throughout Mecca, coffee was seized and burned in the streets, and coffee vendors and some of their customers were beaten as a punishment. Within a few months, however, higher authorities in Cairo overturned Kha’ir Beg’s ruling, and coffee was soon being openly consumed again.
From Kaveh to Caffè to Café, Coffee once again triumphed
As Islamic law prohibits the use of alcohol, the soothing, cheering effect of coffee helped it to become an increasingly popular substitute in Islamic countries, particularly Turkey. During the sixteenth century, most coffee beans were procured from southern Yemen, although a limited amount came from Ceylon, where the Arabs had apparently been cultivating it since about 1500. Mocha, on the Red Sea in Yemen, and Jidda, the port of Mecca, were the main ports for coffee export.
Under the expansive Ottoman Empire of the Middle Ages, coffee, increasingly celebrated for more than its medical wonders, continued to grow in popularity and to reach a wider area. The drink came to be considered as important as bread and water and declared to be nutritive, refreshing weary Turkish soldiers and easing the labor pains of women, who were allowed to drink it. In fact, a Turkish law was eventually passed making it grounds for divorce if a husband refused his wife coffee. Eventually, the Turkish word Kaveh gave rise to the English Coffee as well as the French Café and the Italian Caffè. Rebirth, Renaissance, Rinascimento… coffee always ended in triumph.
A brief history of coffee & coffeehouses from Asia to the east of Europe to the center of it (Italy) and finally coffee arrives at the west. Once Coffee was in Europe, news of it spread, inspiring enterprising travelers and recent immigrants to import the bean. The first English coffeehouse opened in 1650, in the university town of Oxford, apparently by a Jewish man named Jacob. Increasingly popular among its natural constituency — students — coffeehouses (quickly growing in number) became regular meeting places for what was to become several of England’s first social clubs.
The idea took off. In the years that followed, the explosive growth of coffeehouses served to firmly establish the beverage in England; by 1715 there were as many as 2,000 coffeehouses in London alone.
This is The End: A Brief history of coffee & coffeehouses