Since the discovery of Coffee in Ethiopia in the 9th century things started to happen and revolutionised the world as we know it today. From the feasting of red coffee berries by goats to the brewing of coffee beans into a hot drink by monks to keep them awake during long hours of prayer.
If Ethiopia was the birthplace of coffee, Yemen was where it grew up. The brew first took hold among clerics there too, but spillover into the secular crowd didn’t take long and skyrocketing demand soon led to the world’s first cultivated coffee fields there in the 1300s.
The entire Arabian peninsula became a hotbed of coffeehouse culture, business boomed with cafés – called kaveh kanes – on every corner.
By the 15th-century, Mecca resembled a medieval incarnation of Seattle, men sipping steaming mugs over games of chess and political conversations. Coffee houses were such an important place to gather and discuss that they were often called Schools of the Wise. Under certain circumstances probably not so wise as it is told thatFrench Revolution and the American Revolution were planned in coffeehouses.
Coffee had much the same effect in Europe when it was introduced there in the 1600s. Cafés were the center of social life, where people with similar interests could gather and talk. and so the
The British insurance company, Lloyd’s of London, began as a café popular with sailors who often discussed insurance matters.
Soon Caffeine became a cash crop and Arabia controlled the lucrative coffee industry for several centuries, exporting only roasted, infertile beans to their new trading partners in Europe and Asia. Caffeine junkies the world over were hooked, but couldn’t grow their own crops or buy beans at reasonable prices.
Later on the beans were smuggled to India and plants also ended up in Amsterdam and began cultivating coffee in their Southeast Asian colonies in the 17th century. Europe now had a new, direct source for its daily coffee fix.
Then there were the pessimists. In 1511, for example, the governor of Mecca banned coffee because his medical advisers warned it was bad for people’s health.
In 1674, women in London were convinced that coffee made their husbands impotent. Later on in 1732 a German a movement believed coffee make women sterile.
And yet, in an age when beer soup was the breakfast of champions, coffee had one undeniable health benefit: “Western civilization sobered up,” Pendergrast says (historian Mark Pendergrast — author of Uncommon Grounds: The History of Coffee and How It Transformed Our World). Coffee, he says, “had a very good impact in many ways on our civilization, even though it was, for a long time, grown by slaves.”
In Brazil — where slavery was legal until 1888 — coffee plantations would use slash-and-burn agriculture, tearing down rain forests and planting coffee trees that depleted the nutrients in soil. Once the soil had been sapped, growers would move on to another place.
In the 1670’s a Bostonian woman received the first license to sell coffee, and by 1690 there were at least two operating coffeehouses in Boston.
By 1688, coffee replaced beer as New York City’s favorite breakfast drink.
Johann Sebastian Bach composes in 1732 his Kaffee-Kantate – partly an ode to coffee and partly a stab at the movement in Germany to prevent women from drinking coffee (it was thought to make them sterile) – the cantata includes the aria, “Ah! How sweet coffee tastes! Lovelier than a thousand kisses, sweeter far than muscatel wine! I must have my coffee.”