Where Did My Morning Coffee Come From?

I wonder if the fanatical anti-Islamist Australian Senator Cory Bernardi, the nasty Dutch madman, Geert Wilders or the Muslim-hating Christopher Hitchens ever think about the origins of their morning cup of coffee?

There is an apocryphal tale which tells of an Arab named Khalid who was tending his goats in the Kaffa region of southern Ethiopia, when he noticed his animals became livelier after eating a certain berry. He boiled the berries to make the first coffee. This tale was first written in the 17th century so it is more likely that the Ethiopian ancestors of today’s Oromo people were the first to discover and recognize the energizing effect of the coffee bean plant.

The spread of coffee was started simultaneously with the spread of Islam. The first record of the drink is of beans exported from Ethiopia to Yemen where the Sufis drank it to stay awake all night to pray on special occasions.

Mocha or Mokha  is a port city on the Red Sea coast of Yemen and was the major coffee trading port. It has given its name to a favoured style of coffee.

By the late 15th century it had arrived in Mecca and Turkey from where it made its way to Venice. Venetian merchants introduced coffee-drinking to the wealthy in Venice, charging them heavily for the beverage.

Coffee became more widely accepted after controversy over whether it was acceptable for Catholics to consume was settled in its favour by Pope Clement VIII in 1600, despite appeals to ban the drink. Indeed in 1674 an English “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.

The first coffee shop, outside of the Ottoman Empire was opened in Venice in 1645.

Largely through the efforts of the British East India Company and the Dutch East India Company, coffee became available in England no later than the 16th century according to a 1583 account. A Turk named Pasqua Rosee, the servant of Daniel Edwards, a trader in Turkish goods, opened the first coffee house in Lombard Street in the City of London.

The Arabic qahwa became the Turkish kahve then the Italian caffé and then English coffee. The American “Java” seems to go back to the original Arabic.

So, Cory Bernardi, your morning coffee is a Muslim invention.

4 responses to “Where Did My Morning Coffee Come From?

  1. Good stuff, Archie!. I thought the ‘Mericans called it Java (predominantly grown in Indonesia and New Guinea) because they mostly favoured the Java bean over the Arabica.
    Whatever! I like my Arabica and will happily drink a brew with anyone, anywhere. Less hurtful to the digestion than extremist views.:-)


  2. I didnt realise discovering new food/drinks was called an invetion…


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