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February 22, 2012

A Rich (and Selective) History of Coffee

  • – In Ethopia in around 300CE a goat herder named Kaldi is said to have discovered coffee after seeing the energising effect on his herd of goats who had been chewing on the coffee cherries. Others dispute this as myth claiming that coffee was first cultivated in Yemen in around 575CE.
  • – The name coffee comes from the Kaffe region in Ethopia where coffee grew wildly.
  • – In the 1st Century, the Galla tribe of Ethiopia ate balls of crushed raw coffee beans mixed with fruit and animal fat for a quick pick-me-up.
  • – It is believed that coffee began being enjoyed as a beverage in the 10th century.
  • – In the 15th century, according to Turkish law, a woman who did not get her daily quota of coffee from her husband had grounds for divorce.
  • – In the early 1500s conservative Muslim clerics argued that coffee was as much as an intoxicant as wine and was therefore prohibited by the Koran. The governor of Mecca, Khair Bay observed that coffee houses had become places at which people gathered for chess, dancing, debate, and music. He believed that coffee encouraged sedition and agreed with the clerics to ban it in 1511. Not long thereafter, the Sultan of Cairo overruled this prohibition declaring coffee to be sacred and later ordered the governor be executed.
  • – Venetian traders introduced coffee to Italy in around 1615.
  • – Pope Clement VIII (1535-605) baptised coffee to make it a Christian drink in order to avoid having to ban it as a drink of Satan.
  • – Coffee was called Arabian Wine by Europeans in the 17th Century, apparently because the Arabians made wine from the fermented coffee berries.
  • – In the 1700’s, tea and coffee began to replace beer in Europe as the standard breakfast beverage.
  • – In 1777 Frederick the Great of Prussia wrote: “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.”
  • – US Civil War soldiers in the 1860’s used guns designed to hold coffee grinders in their buttstocks.
  • – The first machine for making espresso was built and patented by Angelo Moriondo Italy in 1884. His invention was described as “new steam machinery for the economic and instantaneous confection of coffee beverage”.
  • – The modern espresso machine was invented in 1937 by Italian, Achille Gaggia.
  • – Coffee has been grown in Australia since 1832, originally at Kangaroo Point in Brisbane.
  • – Australia’s vibrant coffee culture was born out of the early Greek and Italian immigrants who established cafes in Sydney and Melbourne. In 1952 the first espresso coffee machine was imported into Australia by the Andronicus brothers. And the rest, they say, is history!

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