|850 - 1599||1600's||1700's||1800's||1900's - Present|
At this point, Arabia and Muslim Africa enjoyed a monopoly on coffee production; In order to keep it that way, their laws forbid the export of fertile beans. Fertile beans are those with the cherry still around the seed. Before they were exported, coffee beans were boiled to make them infertile by shedding the husk off to prevent clever smugglers from sneaking away with the precious goods. But nothing is fool-proof...
After his pilgrimage to Mecca, an Asian Indian named Baba Budan manages to leave the Muslim city with a few fertile coffee beans concealed against his stomach. After returning to India, he secretly cultivates the beans. The descendants of those well-traveled beans are still producing coffee to this day! In fact, "Old Chik", as the original beans are known, account for approximately a third of the coffee India produces. No wonder Baba Budan was made a Saint and there's a region of India named after him.
In Venice, the Church notices the increasing popularity of coffee. The local clergy believe it to be satanic, a product of Ottoman infidels. So Pope Clement VIII decides to inspect the dark beverage himself. The aroma was so pleasant and inviting, the Pope succumbs to temptation and tried the "devil's concoction." After tasting it, he proclaims, "Why, this Satan's drink is so delicious that it would be a pity to let the Infidels have exclusive use of it. We shall fool Satan by baptizing it and making it a truly Christian beverage" and thank God he did! The wisdom of the Church triumphs again! Pass the donation plate; I'll throw in a buck.
Captain John Smith, a British world adventurer, who was one of the founders of the first English settlement Colony in Jamestown, Virginia, brings awareness of coffee to the newly discovered Americas. If fact, there's mention of the Turkish drink known as coffa in his bestselling book of the day "Travels and Adventure." Perhaps it is a good cup of coffee that drives him to such amazing discoveries, dangerous adventures and into trouble too. Not only was the rabble-rouser nearly executed just as he arrived in the New World by his fellow Englishmen, he got into a tussle with the Natives as well.
Legend has it, while up-river, searching for food; he crossed the line and was captured by the Powhatan Tribe. Just before his execution, the Chief's beautiful 14 year-old daughter, Princess Pocahontas intervened. To spare him, she threw herself on top of the cocky Captain, willing to take a beating by clubs to protect him. The Chief relented to his daughter's compassion and apparently her "school-girl" crush. Smith was freed. After the Captain had a "quickie" with Pocahontas -- "a quickie cup of coffee that is," the handsome Captain set-off. With a tip of his hat, a thank you and a wink, he left the blushing Princess Pocahontas behind. Rumor has it that these two had several rendezvous' over the next several years. Although some say that she was in it for love, I think she was in it for the coffee.
Successful cloth merchant and trader, Pieter Van Dan Broeck, was one of the first Dutchmen to taste coffee. Whilst in the service of the Dutch East India Company, he visited Mocha in Yemen and drank "something hot and black." Since it was illegal to take a precious coffee plant or its fertile seeds / beans out of the Arab lands, Pieter set out to smuggle one back to the Netherlands. Unfortunately for the Dutch, and fortunate for the Yemenis, the cultivation in Holland fails miserably. Thwarted in Antwerp by the fickle little plant, that preferred the warmer temperatures of the equatorial zones, the Dutch soon discovered they couldn't grow this plant away from its origins as they had hoped. Not to be dissuaded, being the good businessmen they were, they set their sights on expanding from their near monopoly of the spice trade into coffee. They could see its potential and bided their time as they waited for the demand for coffee to take hold in Europe.
A Greek student at Oxford University brews the very first cup of coffee in England. With his newfound get-up-and-go drink, Nathaniel Conopios could stay up all night throwing dishes and dancing, as well as cramming for those tricky tests, however Oxford's porcelain was more precious to them, than he was. He was summarily expelled. Back to Greece for poor Nathaniel, yet coffee was here to stay. It played an on-going role at energized Oxford University. Scientific breakthroughs are soon to come.
Seventy-five years after the beverage was first introduced in Venice, the first coffee house opens, catering to the travelers and trade between the Venetians and the Ottomans.
Back to Oxford. The first coffee house in all of England opens near the University where eager students drive the drink's popularity. A few years later, those caffeinated young men establish the Oxford Coffee Club. None of these brainiacs were summarily expelled; instead the college all- nighter was born! -- And with it the creation of innovative theories and ideas shared not only by students, but also by leading scientists like Sir Robert Boyle. Years later the club would become the Royal Society, England's world-renowned scientific think-tank. This building is now known as "The Grand Cafe." A plaque on the wall commemorates this and the Cafe is now a trendy cocktail bar.
The first coffeehouse opens in London. Elsewhere, in jolly old England, coffee houses spread rapidly and are madly popular. These "penny universities" are filled with lively discussions among a mix of social classes, from students to tradesmen to the elite. All were welcome... except women. Men will pay the price for this later as women protest and seek legal sanctions. Is this the predecessor of the Women's Movement for Equality?
The Dutch and the Dutch East India Company (a mega-corporation that sells stock and is empowered to fight wars) are on the move; they drive the Portuguese from Ceylon, (today known as Sri Lanka), securing it for the monopoly over cinnamon. These lucky Dutchy's reap an extra spoil from their invasion; they take over the cultivation of the small coffee crops, which were first introduced by the Arabs. The Portuguese are no innocents either; they had conquered the Arabs one hundred and fifty years prior and stole these same coffee plantations from them. Thieves among thieves, I say!
A little known factoid: Coffee overtakes beer as New York City's favorite breakfast beverage - and it goes much better with eggs.
Over in London, public drunkenness is a problem and coffee houses replace taverns as the place of choice for meetings. Not wanting to see their profits shrink, tavern owners retaliate; they attack the Arabic origins of coffee claiming it was not suitable for well-mannered Christian men, whereas Monks' have brewed beer for centuries.
Proprietor Edward Lloyd opens a coffee house in London. Lloyd mingles with his customers and creates a list of their ships, the cargo they're carrying and the schedules they keep. Underwriters then use the list to sell insurance to those in need. Merchants track their ships and shipments. In time, Lloyd's of
London becomes the world's best-known insurance company.
Oh, and incidentally... around this same time, the custom of tipping is born in English coffeehouses. Customers place coins in a box labeled: "To Insure Prompt Service." T-I-P-S.
Soliman Aga, the Turkish Ambassador to Paris, introduces coffee to the Court of Louis the XIV. The grand dames fluttering their fans, go wild over this aromatic, steaming beverage. Magnifique! In a short time, all of Paris is talking about coffee.
An Armenian, Pascal, first sells coffee to the Parisian public from a tent at the St. Germain spring fair. To increase sales, guided by his entrepreneurial spirit, Pascal sends out his Turkish waiter boys throughout the streets of Paris, merrily yelling "Café! Café!" With pitcher and cups in hand, they pour and sell the steaming beverage door-to-door.
Coffee in Paris undergoes a bit of a class war. The first evolution of coffee shops appeal mostly to the lower classes; the Paris elite avoid them. But soon more lavish shops open with elegant, expensive décor. Tea and chocolates are offered in addition to coffee. Before long, the well-heeled men and fashionable women of Paris are in attendance as Coffee is "en vogue."
In London, coffee was at the center in a war between the sexes. Women, you see, are barred from most male gatherings. So if their men weren't at work or the pub, they were spending time at coffeehouses - everywhere and anywhere but home. In fact, women surmised that coffee encouraged their men to drink more liquor. Hell hath no fury! So women circulate a petition entitled, "The Women's Petition against Coffee," which stated that coffee made their men impotent and was creating a "very sensible decay of that true Old English vigor." -- Coffee creates lazy, flaccid lovers?? I say Poppycock!
The men of England shoot back, as men are apt to do, with "The Men's Answer to the Women's Petition against Coffee" claiming quite bluntly that coffee made their erections "more vigorous," the Ejaculation more full." Good show, old boys! If you'd like to read this battle in full with all of its old world charm click here.
Around this same time, though thoroughly unrelated to the lascivious claims of the warring sexes, King Charles II orders England's coffee houses closed. Charles, it seems, is afraid of a war of a different kind: revolt. Coffee houses breed the kind of talk and ideas that might run counter to his royal rule. Protests are so severe Charles' coffee ban lasts only eleven days.
Here's a story of intrigue and heroism, in which a man on a secret mission and coffee were never the same thereafter. In 1683 the unstoppable Turkish Army of 300,000 laid siege and surrounded the Austrian city of Vienna for the second time. The grand city of culture was at the point of surrendering to the Ottoman Empire once and for all, even though help from an army of 33,000 Austrians were nearby. Odds did not favor the Viennese.
A man named Franz Georg Kolschitzky, a young Pole, who had lived in Istanbul for ten years and spoke Turkish, offered up his service to the beleaguered Viennese. Dressed in disguise, in the uniform of the Turkish Army, he clandestinely slipped through the enemy's lines. He gathered vital and strategic information. With this, the Prince of Lorraine and the Austrians attacked. The Turks fled, running so fast, they left their 25,000 tents, 10,000 Oxen, 5000 camels, and a tremendous bounty of Gold behind for the victors, yet to Franz, the true treasure abandoned was - 500 sacks of green coffee beans. The spoils were distributed; but no one wanted these odd little beans or knew what to do with them - except Franz, that is.
Franz is a hero! He is awarded Austrian nationality and granted permission to open the first Viennese coffee house... He names it the Blue Bottle. He made the coffee as he had learned in Istanbul. Most Viennese did not take to this strange new beverage. He brilliantly decides to filter the coffee, add a spoonful of cream and honey. Yummy! Business takes off and he is known to this day as the Patron Saint to coffee houses in all of Vienna. Next time you order a Viennese Coffee, you now know it was all due to one heroic young man versus 300,000 invaders and his reward of 500 sacks of beans.
The Italian Francesco Procopio dei Coltelli opens the Café Procope in Paris, known as the first literary coffee shop in the City of Lights. Patrons include Voltaire, whose table is still there, and the young lieutenant Napoleon Bonaparte, who once left his hat behind to settle his bill. Although Napoleon's hat is long gone, Café Procope is the oldest café in Paris and still open today. It's located on the left bank at 13 rue de l'Ancienne Comédie.
It's a big year for the clever Dutch. They finally broke the Muslims' world monopoly on coffee. Some say the Dutch stole the seedlings, while others claim they were legally exported. Adrian Van Ommen, the Dutch Governor of Malabar in India sends Arabian coffee seedlings to his friend, the Dutch Governor on the island of Batavia (now Jarkata, Indonesia).
After several natural disasters, more seedlings were planted and by 1704 the first coffee was harvested and eventually establishes "Java" coffee as a household name. The decedents of these plants would be given as precious gifts to European Kings. Later thefts from these Royal Gardens would lead to the eventual spread of coffee cultivation throughout the world from the Caribbean to South America.
Something is brewing in London within Johnathan's Coffee House in Change Alley. John Castaing begins to issue a list of stock and commodity prices. It is the earliest evidence of organized trading in marketable securities in London. Men gather not only for their morning fix, they trade information and end-up dealing in commodities. Alas, the London Stock Exchange is born, one of the world's oldest!