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Wednesday, 14 May 2014



Around the ninth century Arab shepherds were noticing their sheep, after having eaten berries from an evergreen bush, tended to stay awake all night. They decided to follow their sheep's example, with almost identical results. These berries from the coffee bush were eaten either whole, with fat or used as an ingredient in wine.

The stimulating effect of this coffee berry became increasingly popular, especially in connection with the lengthy religious rites of the Muslims. The orthodox priesthood pronounced it intoxicating and therefore prohibited by the Koran but many found it welcome as a means of keeping them awake and alert during their nightly prayers.

The word "coffee" was at one time a term for wine, but as the Arabs found the black drink helped them to pray, so they honored it with the name they had originally given to wine.

By the fourteenth century coffee production was a jealously guarded secret, and fertile beans couldn't be found outside of Arabia. They were mainly commercially grown and harvested near the port of Mocha.

The Arabs started selling the coffee beans to the Turks who roasted them for use as a beverage rather than eating them whole. The beans were roasted over open fires before being crushed and then boiled in water. They flavoured their coffee with spices during the brewing process.

By the fifteenth century Coffee was being widely lauded in the Middle East by physicians for its medicinal properties. These included combating small pox, eliminating constipation, prompting urination and importantly the wonderful smell it gave to the body.

The first coffee shop, called Kiva Han, opened in Constantinople in the early sixteenth century. Turkey had become the chief distributor of coffee, with markets established in Egypt, Persia, and Venice.

Coffee in early sixteenth century Turkey had become so important that if the man of the house failed to keep his family's pot filled with coffee this provided grounds for his wife to seek divorce.

The word "coffee" first entered the English language in 1582 via the Dutch koffie, borrowed from the Ottoman Turkish kahve, which was in turn borrowed from the Arabic qahwah (قهوة).

In 1590 Pope Clement VIII was facing the rising tide of Islamic power. The priests advised him, that coffee, the favorite drink of the Ottoman Empire, was part of the infidel threat and a danger to Christianity. The Pope took a sip of the black but fragrant beverage. Far from agreeing to conspiracy theories and "coffee plots," he found it so delicious that he blessed the drink and declared that it would a shame if the infidels were the only ones allowed to enjoy the beverage, thus making it acceptable for Christians.

In early seventeenth century Europe coffee was known as “Arabian Wine.”

By the beginning of the seventeenth century some Egyptians had started adding sugar to coffee to cut its bitterness. This was the first instance of sugar being added to sweeten coffee.

The 17th century Ottoman Sultan Murad VI made the consumption of coffee a capital offense. In addition to closing Istanbul’s many coffeehouses, he would disguise himself as a commoner and stalk the streets of the city with his executioner, beheading any coffee-drinkers that he caught.

The English physician William Harvey who discovered that the circulatory system of blood, was a keen lover of coffee. Though the new drink was still virtually unknown in England, several of William's brothers were early coffee importers so he was  able obtain his own supply.

The first Englishmen who drunk coffee regarded it mainly as an antidote against alcoholism.

Advertisements for coffee in the 1650s in London claimed that it was a cure for scurvy, gout and other ills. The sick were treated with a variety of combinations of coffee and honey, oil and heated butter.

Consignments of coffee started being imported to New England by a trader, Dorothy Jones of Boston, Massachusetts in the early 1660s. This was the first coffee to be sold in North America.

Previously coffee was considered to be merely a therapeutic product by the French aristocracy. However at the exotic parties given by Soliman Aga, the Turkish ambassador to the court of Louis XIV in Paris, coffee was served in tiny cups of egg-shell porcelain. As laid down by Turkish custom, the ambassador offered it to all who come to visit him and he even persuaded the Sun King to give the drink a try. This “newly flavored drink”, as it was called quickly came into fashion in Parisian High Society where the upper classes would loll around in Turkish dressing gowns drinking coffee.

Ten years after Dorothy Jones became America’s first coffee trader, the new drink had replaced beer as the favorite breakfast beverage for many New England colonists.

In 1723 Captain Gabriel Mathieu de Clieu, a young French naval officer brought a live cutting of a coffee tree from a French botanical garden to the Caribbean island of Martinique, where he planted it on his own estate under armed guard. He originally obtained his seedling after a moonlight raid of a greenhouse in the French king's garden.
The voyage was a difficult one. Among the incidents that de Clieu experienced on board was an attack by pirates, a violent storm and an attempt by a jealous passenger, who attempted to steal his coffee seedling and, when unable to get the plant away from him, tore off a branch. As the ship neared its destination water grew scarce but the young coffee tree was kept alive because de Clieu shared with it his limited ration of drinking water.

54 years after the Frenchman Gabriel Mathieu de Clieu planted the first coffee tree in Martinique, it has yielded a total of nearly 20 million trees.

King Gustav III, of Sweden (1746-1792) was so convinced that coffee is poisonous that he ordered a criminal to drink himself to death with the beverage. The execution proved not particularly successful, as the condemned man remained very much alive.

American Civil War Union soldiers were issued 36 pounds of coffee a year and the word "coffee" appeared more in journal entries than "war," "bullet," "cannon," "slavery," "mother" or "Lincoln."

In the mid 1880s Joel Cheek , a partner in the Atlantic and Pacific Tea Company, a wholesale grocery firm in Nashville, Tennessee met Roger Nolley Smith, a British coffee broker who could reportedly tell the origin of a coffee simply by smelling the green beans. The pair developed a coffee that allowed less flavor to escape during the roasting process. In 1892 their coffee was served at the Maxwell House Hotel in Nashville where it has become so popular that the hotel owner ordered that no other coffee should be served to his guests. This blend became known as Maxwell House Coffee. For many years, until the late 1980s, it was the largest-selling coffee in the United States.

Maxwell House newspaper ad from 1921

In Chicago, a Japanese American chemist, Satori Kato, invented soluble “instant” coffee in 1901.

The first mass produced instant coffee was the invention of George Constant Washington, an English chemist living in Guatemala. In 1906, while waiting for his wife one day to join him in the garden for coffee, he observed dried coffee on the spout of the silver coffeepot. Intrigued he started experimenting, which lead to his discovery of easily dissolving coffee. Three years later he put his product, Red E Coffee, (a pun on "ready") on the market.

 Advert from The New York Times, February 23, 1914.

During the First World War, US soldiers called their coffee “a cup of George”. The nickname was derived from the name of Secretary of the Navy Josephus Daniels, who in 1913 banned alcohol from being served on U.S. Navy warships. The sailors began to drink more coffee, which they then nicknamed "Joe."

In order to fund their sea voyage to the 1932 Olympics in Los Angeles, Brazilian athletes loaded their ship with coffee and sold it as they made their way.

Nestlé introduced a more advanced coffee refining process in the late 1930s. Nescafe, the first truly successful instant coffee, was launched by Nestlé on July 24, 1938. The Nescafe brand is a combination of the words “Nestlé” and “café.”

Due to the blockading of German U-boats during the Second World War, there was a shortage of many popular items of food and drink in Britain. To counter the housewives came up with an abundance of creative substitutes. For instance were roasted and used as a substitute for coffee.

Joe Sheridan was a barman at the Shannon Airport in Ireland. He had many tired and exhausted customers at his bar, who after a long flight across the Atlantic could well do with a "pick-up." His remedy was a strong cup of coffee fortified with a dash of whiskey, and topped with whipped cream. The travel writer Stanton Delaplane started publicizing Sheridan’s Irish coffee in 1952 after he discovered it during one of his trips.

Expenditure on coffee in Britain first overtook the amount spent on tea in 1998.

At the beginning of the new millennium, tea was the most popular drink on this planet. However in America coffee was more popular and such was the Americans love for the beverage that it helped it to become the world’s second best selling consumer item after oil.

In 2012 a cup of coffee containing 13,200 litres made in London earned a Guinness World Record for the largest ever cup of coffee.


Coffee comes from an edible fruit -- The coffee cherry is sweet and tastes like watermelon, rosewater, and hibiscus all at once.

In 2002, scientists found that sprinkling coffee grounds in the garden helps deter snails and slugs.

Instant coffee

A car called ‘Car-puccino’ drove from Manchester to London powered by ground coffee in 2010.

Coffee is a great fertiliser for acid-loving plants like hydrangeas, camellias and roses.

In 2010, the Foo Fighters' Dave Grohl was hospitalized after he overdosed... on coffee.

Brazil has been the world’s largest exporter of coffee for over 150 years. It accounted for around 80% of the world’s coffee production in the 1920s but that figure has currently fallen to around a third.

The only U.S. State that grows their own coffee beans is Hawaii.

More than 400 billion cups of coffee are drunk around the world every year.

Coffee beans are actually tasteless until they're roasted.

Coffee doesn't taste like it smells because our saliva wipes out 300 of the 631 chemicals that combine to form its complex aroma.

Coffee beans are actually the pit of a berry, which makes them a fruit.

Most instant coffee is made from Robusta beans grown in Vietnam.

The standard unit for measuring coffee volume is the “bag” which is equal to 60kg of coffee beans.

The world consumes close to 2.25 billion cups of coffee every day.

The Dutch drink more coffee than any other nation, an average of 2.414 cups each, every day.

The United States consumes the most coffee as a nation, but per capita, it's equivalent to less than one cup of coffee (0.93) per person per day.

One third of the tap water used for drinking in North America is used to brew daily cups of coffee.

It takes approximately 37 gallons of water to make just one cup of coffee when you account for inputs needed to grow and process the beans.

Farmers Union Iced Coffee out-sells Coca Cola in South Australia by almost three to one – making it the only place in the world where a milk drink is more popular than Coke.

The world’s most expensive coffee is Kopi Luak with retail prices reaching US$700 per  kilogramme. It is made from beans excreted by the luak (palm civet) of Indonesia.

The Turks are so into their coffee that their word for ‘breakfast’ translates literally to ‘before coffee.’

Only thirty-five percent of coffee drinkers drink their coffee black.

Coffee spills from your cup after you take 7 to 10 steps because the rhythm of walking perfectly oscillates the liquid in the cup.

Source Daily Express

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