Timeline Coffee Discovered in Ethiopia Coffee in the Arab World Coffee Reaches Europe The Coffeehouse Phenomenom Is it Modern? Bibliography

Coffee Timeline

The History of Coffee Prior to 1000 A.D.
(By Mark Simpson)

Members of the Galla tribe in Ethiopia notice that they get an energy boost when they eat a certain type of berry, ground up and mixed with animal fat.

c. 1000 A.D.:
Arab traders bring coffee back to their homeland and cultivate the plant for the first time on plantations. They also begin to boil the beans, creating a drink called "qahwa" (literally, "that which prevents sleep")

Coffee is introduced to Constantinople by the Ottoman Turks. The world's first coffee shop, Kiv Han, opens there in 1475. Turkish law makes it legal for a woman to divorce her husband if he fails to provide her with her daily quota of coffee.

Khair Beg, the corrupt governor of Mecca, tries to ban coffee for fear that it's influence might foster opposition to his rule. The sultan sends word that coffee is sacred and has the governor exectued.

Sheikh Abd-al-Kadir writes, "No one can understand the truth until he drinks of coffee's frothy goodness."

c. 1600:
Coffee, introduced to the West by Italian traders, grabs attention in high places. In Italy, Pope Clement VIII is urged by his advisers to consider the favorite drink of the Ottoman Empire part of the infidel threat. One sip, however, and he decides to baptize it instead, making it an acceptable Christian beverage.

Captian John Smith helps to found the colony of Virginia at Jamestown; it is believed that he introduced coffee to North America.

First coffeehouse opens in Italy.

First coffeehouse opens in England. Coffeehouses multiply and become such popular forums for learned--and not learned--discussions that they are dubbed "penny universities" (a penny being the price of a cup of coffee).

Coffee replaces beer as New York City's favorite breakfast drink.

Edward Lloyd's coffeehouse opens in England and is frequented by merchants and maritime insurance agents. Eventually it becomes Lloyd's of London, the best known insurance company in the world.

First coffeehouse opens in Paris.

England's King Charles II tires to surppress coffeehoues, supposedly becaues men were neglecting their families to discuss business and politics over coffee. His proclamation is revoked over public outcry.

The Turkish army surrounds Vienna. Franz Georg Kolschitzky, a Viannese who lived in Turkey, slips through the enemy lines to lead relief forces to the city. The fleeing Turks leave behind sacks of "dry black fodder" that Kolschitzky recognizes as coffee. He claims it as his reward and opens central Europe's first coffeehouse. He also establishes the habit of refining the brew by filtering out its grounds, sweetening it, and adding a dash of milk.

With a coffee plant smuggled out of the Arab port of Mocha, the Dutch become the first to transport and cultivate coffee commercially, in Ceylon--and in their East Indian colony Java, source of the brew's nickname.

The Dutch unwittingly provide Louis XIV of France with a coffee bush whose descendants will produce the entire Western coffee industry when in 1723 French naval officer Gabriel Mathieu de Cheu steals a seedling and transports it to Martinique. Within 50 years an offical survey records 19 million coffee trees on Martinique. Eventually, 90 percent of the worlds coffee spreads from this plant.

First coffeehouse opens in Berlin.

The Brazilian coffee industry get its start when Lieutenant Colonel Francisco de Melo Palheta is sent by his government to arbitrate a border dispute between French and Dutch colonies in Guiana. Not only does he settle the dispute, he also strikes up a secret liason with the wife of French Guiana's governor. Although France guarded its New World coffee plantations to prevent cultivation from spreading, the lady said good-bye to Palheta with a bouquet in which she hid cuttings and fertile seeds of coffee.

Johann Sebastian Bach composed his "Kafee-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 cantana includes the aria "Ah! How sweet coffee tastes! Lovelier than a thousand kisses, sweeter far than muscatel wine! I must have coffee..."

The Boston Tea Party makes driking coffee a patriotic duty in America.

Prussia's Frederick the Great tries to block imports of green coffee, as Prussia's wealth is drained. Public outcry changes his mind.

Former wholesale grocer Joel Cheek names his popular coffee blend Maxwell House, after the hotel in Nashville Tennessee, where it is served.

Early 1900s:
In Germany, afternoon coffee becomes a standard occasion. The derogatory term "Kaffeeklatsch" is coined to describe women's gossip at these affairs. It has since broadened to mean relaxed conversation in general.

Hills Bros. begins packing roast coffee in vacuum tins, spelling the end of the ubiquitous local roasting shops and coffee mills.
The first soluable "instant" coffee is invented by Japanese-American chemist Satori Kato of

German coffee importer Ludwig Roselius turns a batch of ruined coffee beans over to researchers, who perfect the process of removing caffeine from the beans without destroying the flavor. He markets it under the brand named "Sanka" (a contraction of "sans caffeine"). Sanka is introduced to the United States in 1923.

George Constant Washington, an English chemist living in Guatemala, notices a powdery condensation forming on the spout of his silver coffee carafe. After experimentation, he creates the first massproduced instant coffee (his brand is called Red E Coffee), which is followed be dozens of other brands.

Prohibition goes into effect in the United States. Coffee sales boom.
Having been asked by Brazil to help find a solution to their coffee surplusses, the Nestle company invents freeze dried coffee. Nestle developes Nescafe and introduces it in Switzerland.

The U.S. imports 70 percent of the world coffee crop.

During World War II, American soilders are issued instant Maxwell House coffee in their ration kits. Back home, wide spread hoarding leads to coffee rationing.

In Italy, Achille Gaggia perfects his espresso machine. Cappuccino is named for the resemblance of its color to the robes of the monks of the Capuchin order.

Consumer Reports tests instant coffee.

Carnation introduces Coffeemate nondairy creamer, a powered composed of corn syrup solids, vegetable fat, sodium caseinate, and various additives.

One week before Woodstock, the Manson Family murders coffee heiress Abigal Folger as she visits the friend Sharon Tate in the home of filmmaker Roman Polanski. Folger is stabbed to death with a fork.

Starbucks opens its first store in Seattle's Pike Place public market, creating a frenzy over fresh-roasted whole bean coffee.


Mark Simpson, http://world.std.com/~damned/Coffee/history.html, (Accessed May 2, 2004).