The history of coffee

Here is something we can thank the Islamic world for:  coffee.  BBC gives an interesting account of the history of that beverage and how it came to the West:

Although a beverage made from the wild coffee plant seems to have been first drunk by a legendary shepherd on the Ethiopian plateau, the earliest cultivation of coffee was in Yemen and Yemenis gave it the Arabic name qahwa, from which our words coffee and cafe both derive.

Qahwa originally meant wine, and Sufi mystics in Yemen used coffee as an aid to concentration and even spiritual intoxication when they chanted the name of God.

By 1414, it was known in Mecca and in the early 1500s was spreading to Egypt from the Yemeni port of Mocha. It was still associated with Sufis, and a cluster of coffee houses grew up in Cairo around the religious university of the Azhar. They also opened in Syria, especially in the cosmopolitan city of Aleppo, and then in Istanbul, the capital of the vast Ottoman Turkish Empire, in 1554.

In Mecca, Cairo and Istanbul attempts were made to ban it by religious authorities. Learned shaykhs discussed whether the effects of coffee were similar to those of alcohol, and some remarked that passing round the coffee pot had something in common with the circulation of a pitcher of wine, a drink forbidden in Islam.

Coffee houses were a new institution in which men met together to talk, listen to poets and play games like chess and backgammon. They became a focus for intellectual life and could be seen as an implicit rival to the mosque as a meeting place.

Some scholars opined that the coffee house was “even worse than the wine room”, and the authorities noted how these places could easily become dens of sedition. However, all attempts at banning coffee failed, even though the death penalty was used during the reign of Murad IV (1623-40). The religious scholars eventually came to a sensible consensus that coffee was, in principle, permissible.

Coffee spread to Europe by two routes – from the Ottoman Empire, and by sea from the original coffee port of Mocha.

Both the English and Dutch East India Companies were major purchasers at Mocha in the early 17th Century, and their cargoes were brought home via the Cape of Good Hope or exported to India and beyond. They seem, however, to have only taken a fraction of Yemeni coffee production – as the rest went north to the rest of the Middle East.

Coffee also arrived in Europe through trade across the Mediterranean and was carried by the Turkish armies as they marched up the Danube. As in the Middle East, the coffee house became a place for men to talk, read, share their opinions on the issues of the day and play games.

Another similarity was that they could harbour gatherings for subversive elements. Charles II denounced them in 1675 as “places where the disaffected met, and spread scandalous reports concerning the conduct of His Majesty and his Ministers”.

A century later Procope, the famous Parisian coffee house, had such habitues as Marat, Danton and Robespierre who conspired together there during the Revolution.

At first, coffee had been viewed with suspicion in Europe as a Muslim drink, but around 1600 Pope Clement VIII is reported to have so enjoyed a cup that he said it would be wrong to permit Muslims to monopolise it, and that it should therefore be baptised.

Austrian coffee drinking is said to have received a big boost when the Turkish siege of Vienna in 1683 was broken, and the European victors captured huge coffee supplies from the vanquished.

via BBC News – Coffee and qahwa: How a drink for Arab mystics went global.

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  • Pete

    “Coffee houses were a new institution in which men met together to talk, listen to poets and play games like chess and backgammon.”

    Nothing new under the sun, indeed. A few years back a friend of mine – retired Navy – and his wife fulfilled a lifelong dream, kindled when they were stationed in Italy, and opened a coffee shop here in our humble burg. The above quote pretty much describes what goes on there – with the possible addition of laptop/tablet netsurfing. Does it get any better than a hot cappuccino and free wi-fi?

  • kempin04

    Oh, come now. “Qahwa” first came from the port of “Mocha?”

    If we dig deeper, will we learn that it was first cultivated by the “Lattey” tribe in the region of “Chappukinow,” perhaps during the reign of Suleiman (S.) Presso?

  • Jon

    Good ones, Dan @ 2.

    I’m still wondering how one can “baptize” a liquid drink.

    And I do thank our Father for this good gift.

  • Kirk


    Coffee shops near me are usually packed with grad students writing dissertations. They glare at you if you attempt to have a conversation with anyone because you’re interrupting their work. Coffee shops take more the form of a library than a forum.

    If I were to open a coffee shop, there’d be no wifi and few plugs. In fact, I kinda love the Chilean model where there aren’t even any seats, just a long bar. Coffee is delicious and should be savored, but it’s not a drink that needs to be stretched out over the course of many hours. Drink, talk and move on with your day.

  • SKPeterson

    Lloyd’s of London began as a coffee shop. We therefore have coffee to thank for the beginnings of insurance in Great Britain.

  • Kirk

    Also, does this mean that coffee is Islamofaccistterroristtraitor? Carl?

  • Kirk


  • It starts with coffee – that’s the cultural beach head. Next thing you know we will be replacing the Bible with the Koran and praying toward Mecca five times daily.

  • Joe

    I have read articles in the past that link the rise of coffee and tea with the industrial revolution. Caffeine was essential to helping factory workers adjust to a schedule built around the factory production schedule instead of the sun and the boiling of the water for coffee and tea help reduce the incidence of disease among workers in crowded cities.

  • Kirk

    @9 I’ve read that it caused the enlightenment. It replaced alcohol as the drug of choice for much of Europe. Rather than grabbing a beer for breakfast and spending the rest of the day in a buzzed semi-stupor, Europeans drank coffee and discussed higher principles, resulting in modern civilization.

  • kempin04

    According to the website of the National Coffee Association,* the discovery of coffee was centered around a goatherd named Kaldi and a Christian monastary. From there it spread to Arabia, where it was first sold commercially.

    So I’m not sure the Islamic world deserves all the credit.

    * . . . from which the BBC seems to have lifted the basic information. In fact, a quick google of “history of coffee” quite plainly reveals the depth of BBC’s research. Welcome to the new journalism.

  • Years ago in my college library I stumbled into a tome devoted to the history of coffee. I recall reading that one Islamic religious leader warned against coffee, saying that it is perhaps even more potentially dangerous than alcohol. He said, and here I’m paraphrasing no doubt from memory:

    “Alcohol looses the tongue, but coffee both loosens and the tongue and the mind!”

    : )

  • To atone for my bumbling keyboard skills in my previous comment, I found these quotes about coffee:

    Famous and Not So Famous Coffee Quotes and Coffee Sayings

    When Nancy Astor said to Winston Churchill, “If I were your wife I would put poison in your coffee,” his reply was, “If I were your husband I would drink it.”

    Ernest Hemingway wrote, “It was a pleasant cafe, warm and clean and friendly, and I hung up my old water-proof on the coat rack to dry and put my worn and weathered felt hat on the rack above the bench and ordered a cafe au lait. The waiter brought it and I took out a notebook from the pocket of the coat and a pencil and started to write.”

    It was Talleyrand (1754-1839) who wrote that, “Suave molecules of Mocha stir up your blood, without causing excess heat; the organ of thought receives from it a feeling of sympathy; work becomes easier and you will sit down without distress to your principal repast which will restore your body and afford you a calm, delicious night. It was Gustave Flaubert (1821-1880) who said that “Coffee: Induces wit. Good only if it comes through Havre. After a big dinner party it is taken standing up. Take it without sugar – very swank: gives the impression you have lived in the East.”

    Edward VII (1841-1910) said “You can tell when you have crossed the frontier into Germany because of the badness of the coffee.”

    Erma Bombeck said that “Making coffee has become the great compromise of the decade. It’s the only thing “real” men do that doesn’t seem to threaten their masculinity. To women, it’s on the same domestic entry level as putting the spring back into the toilet-tissue holder or taking a chicken out of the freezer to thaw.”

    Charles Maurice de Talleyrand (1754-1838) said of coffee, “Black as the devil, hot as hell, pure as an angel, sweet as love.”

    An old Dutch saying proclaims that “Coffee has two virtues: it is wet and warm.”

    In Casablanca, Ingrid Bergman says, “Thank you for your coffee, seignor. I shall miss that when we leave Casablanca.”

    A Turkish proverb states, “Coffee and tobacco are complete repose.”

    A studious worker once commented, “I am very efficient at work. In fact, I have never once missed a coffee break.”

    In The Physiology of Taste, Jean-Anthelme Brillat-Savarin (1755-1826) stated, “Liqueurs were not lacking; but the coffee especially deserves mention. It was as clear as crystal, aromatic and wonderfully hot; but, above all, it was not handed around in those wretched vessels called cups on the left banks of the Seine, but in beautiful and capacious bowls, into which the thick lips of the reverend fathers plunged, engulfing the refreshing beverage with a noise that would have done honor to sperm-whales before a storm.”

    Anonymous Quote: “I make lousy coffee. That’s why I put bourbon in it.”

    Television show host David Letterman stated, “Way too much coffee. But if it weren’t for the coffee, I’d have no identifiable personality whatsoever.”

    A July 20, 1969 broadcast to the Johnson Space Center from Apollo 11’s LEM “Eagle” said, “If you’ll excuse me a minute, I’m going to have a cup of coffee.”

    Sheik Abd al-Qadir stated that, “No one can understand the truth until he drinks of coffee’s frothy goodness.

    Anonymous Quote: “Decaffeinated coffee is the devil’s blend.”

    A German proverb states that, “Coffee and love are best when they are hot.”

    Anonymous Quote: “Conscience keeps more people awake than coffee.”

    In A Tramp Abroad, Mark Twain noted that, “The average American’s simplest and commonest form of breakfast consists of coffee and beefsteak.”

    Anonymous Quote: “A cup of gourmet coffee shared with a friend is happiness tasted and time well spent.”

    It was Sir James Mackintosh who said that, “The powers of a man’s mind are directly proportioned to the quantity of coffee he drinks.”

    Napoleon Bonaparte said, “Strong coffee, much strong coffee, is what awakens me. Coffee gives me warmth, waking, an unusual force and a pain that is not without very great pleasure.”

    An avid coffee drinker once complained, “There’s too much blood in my caffeine system!”

    Anonymous Quote: “Everybody should believe in something. I believe I’ll have another cup of premium gourmet coffee.”

    Overheard in a coffeehouse: “If you want instant coffee, you’ll have to wait.”

    Benjamin Franklin stated that, “Among the numerous luxuries of the table…coffee may be considered as one of the most valuable. It excites cheerfulness without intoxication; and the pleasing flow of spirits which it occasions…is never followed by sadness, languor or debility.”

    Anonymous Quote: “A morning without gourmet coffee is like sleep.”

    In his 1869 book The Innocents Abroad, Mark Twain (1835-1910) wrote that “Of all the unchristian beverages that ever passed my lips, Turkish coffee is the worst. The cup is small, it is smeared with grounds; the coffee is black, thick, unsavory of smell, and execrable in taste. The bottom of the cup has a muddy sediment in it half an inch deep. This goes down your throat, and portions of it lodge by the way, and produce a tickling aggravation that keeps you barking and coughing for an hour.”

    Thomas Jefferson said, “The superiority of chocolate (hot chocolate), both for health and nourishment, will soon give it the same preference over tea and coffee in America which it has in Spain.”

    In Memoir from Antproof Case (1995) Mark Helprin stated, “The voodoo priest and all his powders were as nothing compared to espresso, cappuccino, and mocha, which are stronger than all the religions of the world combined, and perhaps stronger than the human soul itself.”

    Anonymous Quote: “coffee coffee Coffee Coffee COFFEE COFFEE!”

    In the 1880 A Tramp Abroad, Mark Twain wrote, “After a few months’ acquaintance with European ‘coffee’ one’s mind weakens, and his faith with it, and he begins to wonder if the rich beverage of home, with it’s clotted layer of yellow cream on top of it, is not a mere dream after all, and a thing which never existed.”

    Anonymous Quote: Espresso is to Italy what champagne is to France.

    In his Kaffee-Kantate, Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750) wrote,

    Ah! How sweet coffee tastes!

    Lovelier than a thousand kisses,

    sweeter far than muscatel wine!

    I must have my coffee.

    Jonathan Swift wrote:

    A fig for partridges and quails,

    ye dainties I know nothing of ye;

    But on the highest mount in Wales

    Would choose in peace to drink my coffee.

    Anonymous Quote: There’s too much blood in my caffeine system!

    In The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock, T.S. Eliot wrote, “I have measured out my life with coffee spoons.”

    On the popular television show MASH, Major Winchester stated, “Coffee is not supposed to be a solid!”

    The Picayune Creole Cook Book (1909) states that “The morning cup of Café Noir is an integral part of the life of a Creole household. The Creoles hold as a physiological fact that this custom contributes to longevity, and point, day after day, to examples of old men and women of fourscore, and over, who attest to the powerful aid they have received through life from a good, fragrant cup of coffee in the early morning.”

    Why do coffee shop baristas say they “pull” espresso shots? The term comes from the early espresso machines that required the barista to pull down a lever to pour the shot.

    The 1699 book England’s Happiness Improved states that, “Moderately drunk, coffee removes vapours from the brain, occasioned by fumes of wine, or other strong liquors; eases pains in the head, prevents sour belchings, and provokes appetite.
    In the 1712 Rape of the Lock, Alexander Pope wrote:

    Coffee, which makes the politicians wise,
    And see through all things with his half-shut eyes.

    Anonymous Quote: Be a premium gourmet coffee-drinking individual-espresso yourself!

    Homer wrote that, “Oh, my tattered rags are caught on your coffee table.”
    Penelope Lombard said that, “My family is really boring. They have a coffee table book called Pictures We Took Just to Use Up the Rest of the Film.

    Clark Gable said, “I never laugh until I’ve had my coffee.”

    Anonymous Quote: “I bought a decaffeinated coffee table, you can’t even see a difference.”

    Alex Levine stated that, “Only Irish coffee provides in a single glass all four essential food groups: alcohol, caffeine, sugar, and fat.

    Also see: Five Best Coffees In The World – Best Coffee Beans

    Anonymous Quote: “Coffee is a beverage that puts one to sleep when not drank.”

    Bacon said coffee is “The drink that comforteth the brain and heart and helpeth digestion.”

    Anonymous Quote: “Chocolate, men, premium gourmet coffee-some things are better rich.”

    Jonathan Swift (1667-1745) said that “The best Maxim I know in this life is, to drink your Coffee when you can, and when you cannot, to be easy without it. While you continue to be splenetic, count upon it I will always preach. Thus much I sympathize with you that I am not cheerful enough to write, for I believe Coffee once a week is necessary to that.”

    British playwright Christopher Fry, in the Nov. 29, 1962 New York Post, stated that, “Coffee in England is just toasted milk.”

    In Miss Beecher’s Domestic Receipt-Book (1846), Catherine Beecher wrote that, “Coffee it is best to buy by the bag, as it improves by keeping. Let it hang in the bag, in a dry place, and it loses its rank smell and taste.”
    Barbara Streisand said, “Why don’t you have a cup of coffee at least? I, um, I’m a little low in sugar and I don’t have any cream, but it’s real coffee.”

    On December 23, 1675, King Charles II of England stated in a Proclamation For the Suppression of Coffee Houses, “Whereas it is most apparent that the multitude of Coffee Houses of late years set up and kept within this Kingdom…and the great resort of idle and disaffected persons to them, have produced very much of their time, which might and probably would be employed in and about their Lawful Calling and Affairs; but also for that in such houses…divers, false, malitious, and scandalous reports are devised and spread abroad to the Defamation of His Majesty’s Government, and to the disturbance of the Peace and Quiet of the Realm; his Majesty hath though it fit and necessary, that the said Coffee Houses be (for the Future) put down and suppressed.

    Note: Due to widespread citizen protests, this rule was revoked on January 8, 1676.

    In the movie Moonstruck, Cher said, “You make good coffee . . . You’re a slob, but you make good coffee.”

    Jospephine Baker said, He was my cream, and I was his coffee – And when you poured us together, it was something.

    Comedian Bill Maher opined, “During the Depression, or back when we were fighting Hitler, people didn’t have time to sue a company if the coffee was too hot. There were urgent, pressing problems. If you think you have it tough, read history books.”

    In The Life of Pope, Dr. Johnson states, “His most frequent ailment was the headache which he used to relieve by inhaling the steam of coffee.”

    In Glory Road, Robert A. Heinlein stated that “Coffee comes in five descending stages: Coffee, Java, Jamoke, Joe, and Carbon Remover.

    Sydney Smith (1771-1845) said, “If you want to improve your understanding, drink coffee; it is the intelligent beverage.”

    In The Conduct of Allies (1711), Jonathan Swift said that, “It is the folly of too many to mistake the echo of a London coffee-house for the voice of the kingdom.

    Flash Rosenberg wrote that, “I believe humans get a lot done, not because we’re smart, but because we have thumbs so we can make coffee.

    Anonymous Quote: Sleep is a symptom of coffee deprivation.

    Jeff Bezos stated that, “In Seattle, you haven’t had enough coffee until you can thread a sewing machine while it’s running.”

    In Don Juan, Byron wrote:

    Let no man grumble when his friends fall off,

    As they will do like leaves at the first breeze;

    When your affairs come round, one way or t’other,

    Go to the coffee house, and take another.

    Isak Dinesen stated that, “Coffee, according to the women of Denmark, is to the body what the Word of the Lord is to the soul.”

    William Kitchiner (1775-1827) stated that, “Coffee as drunk in England, debilitates the stomach, and produces a slight nausea…it is usually made from bad Coffee, served out tepid and muddy, and drowned in a deluge of water.”

    Anonymous Quote: “We certainly can try to grow in love, and it is good practice, this giving what we’ve got, whether it is a cup of gourmet coffee or money to pay the grocery bill.”

    It is said that Bertrand Russell’s last words were, “Life is just one cup of coffee after another, and don’t look for anything else.

    A Jamaican proverb states, “You can’t take the milk back from the coffee.”

    The 1674 Women’s Petition Against Coffee stated that, “Coffee leads men to trifle away their time, scald their chops, and spend their money, all for a little base, black, thick, nasty, bitter, stinking nauseous puddle water.”

    The 1883 Buckeye Cookbook stated that, Physicians say that coffee without cream is more wholesome, particularly for persons of weak digestion. There seems to be some element in the coffee which combined with the milk, forms a leathery coating on the stomach, and impairs digestion.

    Anne Morrow Lindbergh said that, “Good communication is as stimulating as black coffee, and just as hard to sleep after.

    Charles Dickens (1812-1870) wrote that “The coffee was boiling over a charcoal fire, and large slices of bread and butter were piled one upon the other like deals in a lumber yard.”

    Anonymous Quote: I don’t have a problem with caffeine, I have a problem without caffeine.

    Bobby Heenan said, “This guy makes coffee nervous.”

    Anonymous Quote: The best gourmet coffee in Europe is Vienna coffee, compared to which all other coffee is fluid poverty.

    In 1722, Jonathan Swift stated that, “Coffee makes us severe and grave and philosophical.”

    In a 1994 New York Times, Haitian president Jean-Bertrand Aristide wrote, “We shall prepare the coffee of reconciliation through the filter of justice. Through reconciliation, streams of tears will come to our eyes.”

    Anonymous Quote: “Retirement is one great big giant gourmet coffee break.”

    In You’re So Vain, Carly Simon sang, “I had some dreams, they were clouds in my coffee.”

    Ronald Reagan commented, “I never drink coffee at lunch. I find it keeps me awake for the afternoon.

    Anomymous Quote: Don’t drink coffee in the morning. It will keep you awake until noon.”

    In the 1692 book The Good Hous-Wife Made A Doctor, Thomas Tyron (1634-1703) wrote, “In a word, coffee is the drunkard’s settle-brain, the fool’s pastime, who admires it for being the production of Asia, and is ravished with delight when he hears the berries grow in the deserts of Arabia, but would not give a farthing for a hogshead of it, if it were to be had on Hampstead Heath or Banstead-Downs.”

    A November, 1949 New York Times stated that, “Over second and third cups flow matters of high finance, high state, common gossip, and low comedy.”

    William Makepeace Thackeray (1811-1863) wrote, “Why do they always put mud into coffee on board steamers? Why does the tea generally taste of boiled boots?”

    Anonymous Quote: “Given enough premium gourmet coffee, I could rule the world.”

    Isidore Bourdon said, “The discovery of coffee has enlarged the realm of illusion and given more promise to hope.”

    In A Tramp Abroad, Mark Twain wrote that “The average American’s simplest and commonest form of breakfast consists of coffee and beefsteak.

    In 1891, writer and physician Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr. stated that, “The morning cup of coffee has an exhilaration about it which the cheering influence of the afternoon or evening cup of tea cannot be expected to reproduce.”

    Charles de Secondat Montesquieu wrote that, “The coffee is prepared in such a way that it makes those who drink it witty: at least there is not a single soul who, on quitting the house, does not believe himself four times wittier that when he entered it.”

    Anonymous Quote: “Caffeine isn’t a drug, it’s a vitamin.”

    It was Wallace Stevens who wrote”

    Complacencies of the peignoir, and late

    Coffee and oranges in a sunny chair.

    And the green freedom of a cockatoo

    Upon a rug mingle to dissipate

    The holy hush of ancient sacrifice

    Edna Lewis, the author of The Taste of Country Cooking, stated that “The smell of coffee cooking was a reason for growing up, because children were never allowed to have it and nothing haunted the nostrils all the way out to the barn as did the aroma of boiling coffee.

    In his Kaffee-Kantate, Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750) wrote that, “Without my morning coffee I’m just like a dried up piece of roast goat.”

    In The Black Orchid, Anthony Quinn wrote, “See how special you are? I serve you coffee in the parlor.

    Anonymous Quote: I make serious premium gourmet coffee-so strong it wakes up the neighbors.

    In 1777, Prussia’s Frederick the Great wrote that, “It is disgusting to notice the increase in the quantity of coffee used by my subjects, and the amount of money that goes out of the country as a consequence. Everybody is using coffee; this must be prevented. His Majesty was brought up on beer, and so were both his ancestors and officers. Many battles have been fought and won by soldiers nourished on beer, and the King does not believe that coffee-drinking soldiers can be relied upon to endure hardships in case of another war.

    In 1991, Joan Frank wrote, “Coffee: we can get it anywhere, and get as loaded as we like on it, until such teeth-chattering, eye-bulging, nonsense-gibbering time as we may be classified unable to operate heavy machinery.”

    Anonymous Quote: “What do you mean ‘I burnt the oatmeal’? That’s COFFEE!”

    In the 1973 Mrs. October Was Here, Coleman Dowell states, “It is extraordinary how the house and the simplest possessions of someone who has been left become so quickly sordid. Even the stain on the coffee cup seems not coffee but the physical manifestation of one’s inner stain, the fatal blot that from the beginning had marked one for ultimate aloneness.”

    Stephanie Piro said, Behind every successful woman… is a substantial amount of coffee.”

    Henry Ward Beecher stated that, “No coffee can be good in the mouth that does not first send a sweet offering of odor to the nostrils.”
    John Van Druten said, “I think if I were a woman I’d wear coffee as a perfume.”

    Motivated Worker Concept: Office automation-networked coffee machines.

    Anonymous Quote: “You know what separates humans from animals? Gourmet Coffee!”

    Harper Lee said, “I do much of my creative thinking while golfing. If people know you’re working at home they think nothing of walking in for a cup of coffee, but wouldn’t dream of interrupting on the golf course.”

    Bella Abzug recalled, “I began wearing hats as a young lawyer because it helped me to establish my professional identity. Before that, whenever I was at a meeting, someone would ask me to get coffee.”

    In his 1963 speech entitled Malcolm X Message to the Grass Roots Speech, Malcolm X stated, “It’s just like when you’ve got some coffee that’s too black, which means it’s too strong. What do you do? You integrate it with cream, you make it weak. But if you pour too much cream in it, you won’t even know you ever had coffee. It used to be hot, it becomes cool. It used to be strong, it becomes weak. It used to wake you up, now it puts you to sleep.”

    In his 1985 The Adding Machine, Remembering Jack Kerouac, William Burroughs wrote, “Kerouac opened a million coffee bars and sold a million pairs of Levis to both sexes. Woodstock rises from his pages.”

    Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote, “Tobacco, coffee, alcohol, hashish, prussic acid, strychnine, are weak dilutions the surest poison is time.”

    In Eyes and Ears, Henry Ward Beecher stated, “A cup of coffee-real coffee-home browned, home ground, home made, that comes to you dark as a hazel-eye, but changes to a golden bronze as you temper it with cream that never cheated, but was real cream from its birth, thick, tenderly yellow, perfectly sweet, neither lumpy nor frothing on the Java: such a cup of coffee is a match for twenty blue devils and will exorcise them all.”

    Anonymous Quote: “This coffee tastes like mud! Well, it was ground this morning.”

    Drew Sirtors claims that, “Coffee is the best thing to douse the sunrise with.”

    A comment on Star Trek: Voyager opined, “Coffee, the finest organic suspension ever devised.”

    Anonymous Quote: Man does not live by premium gourmet coffee alone. Have a danish!

    Larie Colwin wrote, “On Saturday mornings I would walk to the Flavor Cup or Puerto Rico Importing coffee store to get my coffee. Often it was freshly roasted and the beans were still warm. Coffee was my nectar and my ambrosia: I was very careful about it. I decanted my beans into glass…and I ground them in little batches in my grinder.”

    Anomymous: Forever – Time it takes to brew the first pot of coffee in the morning.

    Samuel Goldwyn wrote, “Coffee is not my cup of tea.”

    Murphy’s Law states, “As soon as you sit down to a cup of hot coffee, your boss will ask you to do something which will last until the coffee is cold.

    Anonymous Quote: “Morning doesn’t begin until after your second cup of premium gourmet coffee.”

    Bill Cosby said, “Like everyone else who makes the mistake of getting older, I begin each day with coffee and obituaries.”

    Dr. Johnson in The Life of Pope states, “His most frequent ailment was the headache which he used to relieve by inhaling the steam of coffee.”

    Anonymous Quote: “Do I like my gourmet coffee black? There are other colors?”

    In Mary, Mary, Jean Kerr said that, “Do you know how helpless you feel if you have a full cup of coffee in your hand and you start to sneeze?”

    Albert Einstein said that, “A mathematician is a device for turning coffee into theorems.

    Anonymous Quote: The first cup of gourmet coffee recapitulates phylogeny.

    Alexander King stated, “Actually, this seems to be the basic need of the human heart in nearly every great crisis-a good hot cup of coffee.”

    Anonymous Quote: “Go ahead… Make my premium gourmet coffee.”

    The 1699 book England’s Happiness Improved stated that “Moderately drunk, coffee removes vapours from the brain, occasioned by fumes of wine, or other strong liquors; eases pains in the head, prevents sour belchings, and provokes appetite.”

    Ken Hutchinson of Starsky and Hutch said, “Wine is for aging, not coffee.”

    Anonymous Quote: “Just bring me my premium gourmet coffee, and s-l-o-w-l-y back away.”

    Harry Mahtar said, “I orchestrate my mornings to the tune of coffee.”

    K. Hubbard said that, “Nothing’ll make a father swear before the children
    quicker than a cup of poor coffee.”

    Definition of a Computer Programmer: An person who turns software into coffee.

    Anonymous Quote: “Caffeine-The other Vitamin C”

    Jessi Lane Adams said that, “Coffee smells like freshly ground heaven.”

    Someone once said that, “Mothers are those wonderful people who can get up in the morning before the smell of coffee.”

    Anonymous Quote: “All the gourmet coffee in Columbia won’t make me a morning person.”

    Murphy’s Law states, “As soon as you sit down to a cup of hot coffee, your boss will ask you to do something which will last until the coffee is cold.”

    Anonymous Quote: “Drink your premium gourmet coffee strong and black, you’ll never be latte!”

    It was Abraham Lincoln who said, “If this is coffee, please bring me some tea; but if this is tea, please bring me some coffee.

    Anonymous Quote: “Don’t laugh at the coffee. Some day you, too, may be old and weak.”

    Burt Lancaster stated, “I judge a restaurant by the bread and the coffee.”

    Honoré de Balzac (1799-1859) said, “Many people claim coffee inspires them, but, as everybody knows, coffee only makes boring people even more boring.”

    Anonymous Quote: “Many people are like instant coffee: the minute they get in hot water they dissolve.”

    In Star Trek: Voyager Think Tank, Neelix asks, “Do you want me to prepare a hypospray so you can absorb the caffeine more directly?”

    Anonymous Quote: “It is by premium gourmet coffee alone I set my mind in motion.”

    Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote, “Coffee is good for talent, but genius wants prayer.”

    .An old Arabic saying about coffee states, “The first cup is for the guest, the second for enjoyment, the third for the sword.”

    Comedian Dave Barry quipped, “It is inhumane, in my opinion, to force people who have a genuine medical need for coffee to wait in line behind people who apparently view it as some kind of recreational activity.”

    Napoleon Bonaparte said, “I would rather suffer with coffee than be senseless.”

    Anonymous Quote: “Life is too short for bad coffee.”

    Captain Janeway in Voyage: The Cloud said, “I don’t want anything better, I want coffee.”

    A 1511 Arabic poem opines, “O Coffee, thou dost dispel all care, thou art the object of desire to the scholar.”

    Anonymous Quote: “An American will go to hell for a bag of premium gourmet coffee.”

    Honoré de Balzac (1799-1859) wrote that “As soon as coffee is in your stomach, there is a general commotion. Ideas begin to move…things remembered arrive at full gallop…similes arise, the paper is covered. Coffee is your ally and writing ceases to be a struggle.”

  • tODD

    Kempin (@2), you do know where the word “cappuccino” derives from, right? It was named that after the light brown color of the drink, which was similar in color to the robes of the Capuchin monks.

    But I’m confused by your other comment (@11). Are you saying that the similarity in facts between the National Coffee Association’s article and the BBC’s means that the BBC cribbed from the NCA? Don’t you think that the facts would be the same in most of these sources?

    Kirk (@4), that’s how a lot of Italian espresso bars are, too — that’s why they’re called espresso bars (the thing you lean against while standing), in fact. It’s really hard to drag out more than a few minutes from a demitasse, anyhow.

  • Matt Jamison

    Even more interesting is that the Egyptians invented beer.

    The Arabs have an amusing habit of claiming to have invented almost everything. Its a trait that they share with Greeks, the Chinese and Texans.

  • kempin04

    tODD, #14,

    “Are you saying that the similarity in facts between the National Coffee Association’s article and the BBC’s means that the BBC cribbed from the NCA?”

    Pretty much, yeah. There is nothing in the BBC article that is not found in the various “histories” of coffee association web pages. They don’t even do a very good job of re-arranging the details. I’m willing to put the best construction on things, but if I were teaching their class, I would not accept it. (Not without attribution, at least.)

  • tODD

    Citing the popular goatherd story, Kempin said (@11):

    I’m not sure the Islamic world deserves all the credit.

    Then Matt Jamison went on to say (@15):

    The Arabs have an amusing habit of claiming to have invented almost everything.

    Is this just anti-Islamism rearing its head? I don’t see a lot to back up these comments.

    I mean, Kempin cites the website of the National Coffee Association, even as he derides the BBC for (allegedly) doing the same. But is the story of Kaldi the goatherd legitimate?

    According to The World of Caffeine: The Science and Culture of the World’s Most Popular Drug by Weinberg and Bealer (Routledge, 2001):

    The myth of Kaldi the Ethiopian goatherd and his dancing goats, the coffee origin story most frequently encountered in Western literature, embellishes the credible tradition that the Sufi encounter with coffee occurred in Ethiopia, which lies just across the narrow passage of the Red Sea from Arabia’s western coast. Antoine Faustus Nairon, a Maronite who became a Roman professor of Oriental languages and author of one of the first printed treatises devoted to coffee, De Saluberrima Cahue seu Cafe nuncupata Discurscus (1671), relates that Kaldi, noticing the energizing effects when his flock nibbled on the bright red berries of a certain glossy green bush with fragrant blossoms, chewed on the fruit himself. His exhilaration prompted him to bring the berries to an Islamic holy man in a nearby monastery. But the holy man disapproved of their use and threw them into the fire, from which an enticing aroma billowed. The roasted beans were quickly raked from the embers, ground up, and dissolved in hot water, yielding the world’s first cup of coffee. Unfortunately for those who would otherwise have felt inclined to believe that Kaldi is a mythopoeic emblem of some actual person, this tale does not appear in any earlier Arab sources and must therefore be supposed to have originated in Nairon’s caffeine-charged literary imagination and spread because of its appeal to the earliest European coffee bibbers.

    If you’ve got something more authoritative than that, please let me know.

  • Carl Vehse

    The “Famous and Not So Famous Coffee Quotes and Coffee Sayings” in Post #13 are those noted in the
    November 26, 2009, Kona Coffee Roasting thread, “World’s Best Coffee Quotes.”

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    Matt, the history of brewing is a very interesting subject – the earliest brews we currently know about comes from northeastern China, in the form of a grog, 9000 years ago. Though that doesn’t preclude a more Middle-eastern origin, it is the oldest hard archaeological evidence. You might enjoy “Uncorking the Past: The Quest for Wine, Beer, and Other Alcoholic Beverages,” , by Patrick E. McGovern. Imagine that – a historian of fermentation!

    As to coffee – the Islamic powers of a millennium ago were certainly instrumental in spreading it, and for that they have certainly earned my thanks! But just as bad beer is a crime against humanity, bad coffee is a hideous offense against all that is good and honest. I was amazed recently, when speaking to some colleagues, that they have never taken a moment to savour the different flavours in a cup of good coffee. These are great gifts, and not to learn to enjoy them is a mark of barbarism (and I’m dead serious about my last comment!)

  • kempin04

    tODD, #17,

    “Is this just anti-Islamism rearing its head?”

    Well in my case, yes. I believe Islam is a false and dangerous religion. From what I can tell, Islam itself did nothing to develop coffee other than to ban it and try to withhold it from the rest of the world. On the other hand, I am not at all anti-Arab, and think they deserve my full gratitude for their part in the history of coffee.

    “I mean, Kempin cites the website of the National Coffee Association, even as he derides the BBC for (allegedly) doing the same. ”

    Well yes, but that is rather the point. I cited the web site. Weak source though it may be, I did not just bust out the information as though it was my own research.

    Regarding Kaldi the goatherd, what can I say? Your reference is certainly compelling and I have nothing invested in the outcome. It sounds to me like that is a good place to leave it. (Though I do find it quite plausible that a discovery like caffeine could have taken place in a monastary, and the presence of Christian monastaries in the region is well attested.)

  • Kirk


    If the story of Kaldi is true, he took it to a Muslim holy man, not a Christian monastery. If it’s not true, nearly all accounts point to Sufis in Yemen developing and spreading the drink throughout the rest of the Islamic world before it spread to the Christian West via the Ottomans. It seems that Islamic culture, specifically the Sufis, deserve all the credit for discovering and sharing coffee. Acknowledging this, of course, os quite apart from acknowledging the veracity of the religion itself. Let’s give credit where credit is due.

  • kempin04

    tODD, #17, regarding the “The World of Caffeine, etc.”

    “His [Kaldi’s] exhilaration prompted him to bring the berries to an Islamic holy man in a nearby monastery.”

    Wait a tic. Since when does Islam have monastaries?

  • tODD

    Kempin (@20), I agree that Islam is a false and dangerous religion, but it does not follow that we shouldn’t therefore give credit to Muslims for this or that earthly accomplishment. I really don’t get your animus here.

    You say that “Islam itself did nothing to develop coffee other than to ban it and try to withhold it from the rest of the world,” but this very much focuses only on the role of some Muslims, obviously ignoring the role of others (e.g., the Sufi mystics in Yemen, and, you know, all the other Muslims the BBC article implies that made the drink popular and moved it from here to there).

    I mean, if we’re going to blame all of “Islam” for the action of this or that group of Islamic leaders in trying to ban coffee, then you should likewise blame all of Christianity for the actions of Charles II (of England) in trying to ban coffee houses.

    It just seems like you’re trying really hard to give the credit for coffee to Christians, even going so far as to speculate (based on no evidence that you offer) about Christian monasteries.

    As to Islam and monasteries (@22), the key is Sufism. Sufis are ascestics, and their “tekke” are sometimes translated into English as “monasteries”.

  • kempin04

    Actually, tODD, there is not an animus, and I’m not trying to give credit for coffee to Christians. It’s just that after idly glancing at the history, I thought it odd to gloss over the supposed “discovery” of coffee in order to focus on the role of Muslims in developing the production and export of coffee–for which they unreservedly deserve credit, if that means anything.

    Furthermore, if we are going to talk about a monastary in Ethiopia, it is vastly more likely that it was a Christian monastary than a Sufi ‘tekke.’ Ethiopia is, to this very day, still majority Christian.

  • tODD

    Kempin (@24):

    It’s just that after idly glancing at the history, I thought it odd to gloss over the supposed “discovery” of coffee in order to focus on the role of Muslims in developing the production and export of coffee…

    But why is that odd? It should be clear that the story of Kaldi the goatherd is, at best, disputed (I’m comfortable going so far as to call it apocryphal). Even the National Coffee Association, to whom you earlier pointed us, only calls it a “legend” and assigns it merely “some truth”.

    Of course, according to my earlier citation (@17), the earliest mention of the Kaldi story is far from contemporary (by 1671, coffee was no longer solely a Middle Eastern thing), and it does claim that Kaldi brought the berries to an “Islamic holy man”.

    Your claim that:

    if we are going to talk about a monastary in Ethiopia, it is vastly more likely that it was a Christian monastary than a Sufi ‘tekke.’

    only makes sense if we only had a non-sectarian description of a “monastery” to go by, and thus had to rely on uninformed random probability. (Even so, the Wikipedia article to which you linked me, which doesn’t have a lot of historical data, says that 1/3 of Ethiopians are Muslims, which hardly seems to back up your “vastly” claim.)

    But, again, it’s not a matter of probability, according to the one semi-rigorous source that’s been introduced into this discussion (again, cf. @17). That source stresses the origin of coffee drinks among the Sufis (look it up on Amazon and browse through the first several pages to see what I’m talking about). All you have offered to counter that is your own supposition and, perhaps, the (unsourced) NCA website, which uses the word “abbot” (a word seemingly unlikely to be applied to Sufism).

    I really do feel like I’m missing something here as to your point.