As Early as the 6th Century, Arabs and Abyssinians Were Aware of the Stimulating Effects of Coffee.

Abyssinians supposedly crushed the fruit and ate the peels while the Arabs made tea from the dried skin and pulp. Certainly at any time after the 6th century individuals may have roasted coffee for beverage preparation but there is no written record of roasted coffee until about the 13th century when word got around that coffee seeds had a great aroma when burnt.

In a way, Mohammed (AD570 – 632) set the stage for the popularity of tea and coffee when he discouraged the use of all alcoholic beverages. I expect tea was in common use, probably in the form of locally grown herbal teas such as mint or chamomile, before caffeinated teas were available from China and India. (Was there a type of tavern before Mohammed that was closed after the ban on alcohol or did it merely change into the teahouse?) Often beverage vendors often serve from street-curb booths or kiosks in market areas. Another connection with Mohammed would be through the Sufi order some four hundred years later.

879   Arab travelers visiting Canton mention tea in their log.

925 Rhazes (AD850-925), a Persian doctor from Iraq and major figure in the history of medicine. This follower of the practice of Galen and Hippocrates compiled a medical encyclopedia in which he refers to a bean called “bunchum” thought to be coffee. His discussion of its healing properties no doubt led to the belief that coffee was known as a medicine over a thousand years ago.

1037 Avicenna (980-1037) arabic, Ibn Sina, the father of modern medicine. Interpreted Aristotle in Neoplatonic fashion but was known in the west principally for his contributions to medicine and writings on other sciences. In his encyclopedia of medicines he also comments on the medicinal properties of “bun”. 

c.1200 Sufism, a mystical philosophy of Islam arising in the late 10th and early 11th century would eventually discover the stimulating properties of coffee tea. Members of this semi-monastic order emphasized a personal union of the soul with god. The order is well known for its expression in symbolic Persian poetry. (e.g., poets Ferid ed-Din Attar, Hafiz, Jami and Omar Khayyam).

The Dervish, a Sufi order that uses exhaustive whirling dancing and chanting to reach a transcendental state of ecstasy, found coffee tea particularly helpful to bolster stamina during their practice.

1258 Sheik Omar, (disciple of Sheik Schadheli, the legendary founder and patron saint of the port of Mocha) by chance discovers coffee as a beverage while in exile at Ousab in Arabia.

1350 Persians, Egyptians and Turks are making pottery ewers specifically for serving coffee

c.1450 Mufti, Gemaleddin of Aden supposedly cured of serious illness with coffee.

1453 A Turkish law makes it legal for a woman to divorce her husband if he fails to provide her daily family quota of coffee.

1470 Coffee is first known to be used in Medina and Mecca

1500 Roasting and brewing becomes common in Arabia where coffee-tents, coffeehouses and coffee kiosks start springing up wherever people congregate.

1505 Arab traders introduce coffee trees to Ceylon

1510 Coffee is being used in Cairo

1511 Khair Bey, a corrupt governor of Mecca bans the use of coffee, The Sultan sends word that coffee is sacred and has him removed from office.

1517 Coffee in Europe from Arabia via Mediterranean

The practice of taking African slaves begins in Europe

Coffee used in Baghdad and Ormuz.

1517 Ottoman Turks take control of Cairo, Mecca and Medina.

Mocha Coffee is now Turkish for the next three hundred years.

1520 Chocolate brought to Europe from Aztec Mexico

1521 Cortes assumes control of Mexico after the destruction of Aztec state

Magellan killed in Philippines and Sebastiano del Cano sails on.

Manufacture of silk introduced to France

1522 Spanish conquer Guatemala. Pascuel de Andagoya discovers Peru from Panama

1529 Siege of Vienna

1530 First coffee house opens in Damascus, Syria

1532 First coffeehouse opens in Aleppo Syria. Sugar cane first cultivated in Brazil

1545 First European botanical garden in Padua

1554 Coffeehouses opened in Constantinople

1559 First Ottoman siege of Vienna, failed (see 1683)

1573 First German sugar refinery. German physician Rauwolf writes about use of coffee in Syria

1578 Levant Trading Co. founded in London for trade w/ Turkey

1579 England Eastland Co. founded for trade w/ Scandinavia. Portuguese merchants set up trading station in Bengal

1580 Italian cooking becomes popular in Europe.  Venice imports coffee from Turkey to Italy

1582 Leonhart Rauwolf refers to “Chaube” use in Aleppo. Rauwolf is a physician from Augsburg. He studied in Italy, France and Valencia and Montpellier, from 1573 to 1576 he traveled through the orient (studying herbs?) He is the first European to describe the drink, how it is served and its basic substance the bean.

1584 Banco Rialto founded in Venice

1585 Venetian emissary in Istanbul, Gianfrancesco Morosini reports to the Venetian senate that Turks imbibe in a black water made from the infusion of a bean which the Turks call “cavee”.

1598 Englishman, Anthony Sherley reports Persians drink a certain liquor which they call “coffe”, made from seeds.

1591 Italian doctor and naturalist, Alpino (Prosper Alpinus) botanically describes coffee in “Medicina Egyptorium” He traveled to Egypt in the retinue of the Venetian consul. From his study of plants along the Nile he published “De Plantis Aegypti Liber (Venice 1592) with woodcut illustrations of coffee. In writings from Cairo, he reports of seeing a “caova” plant in a private garden.

1594 English traders return from overland journey to India and Ceylon

England breaks Portuguese sea trade monopoly with India

1595 Dutch begin colonizing East Indies. The Dutch will become the major player in coffee. *See overview at end.

1597 Dutch take Batavia, Java (Jakarta)

1600 English East India Co. founded

1600 Introduction of coffee into India by Baba ud-din a Muslim pilgrim returning from Mecca

1601 Abolition of monopolies in England. Brothels closed in Germany owing to spread of VD

1602 Dutch East India Co. founded in Java

1604 Voyages of English East India Co. to Java, Spice Islands and Agra

1607 Bank of Genoa fails after national bankruptcy in Spain

1608 First checks “cash letter” in use in Netherlands

1609 Founding of The Bank of Amsterdam

Tea from China shipped for first time to Europe by Dutch East India Co.

1609 An English seaman noted that he rested by a “cohoo howse” in the desert near Aden.

1609 The word “coffe” appears in an English newspaper.

1610 Dutch East India Co. introduces the term “share”

1610 Portuguese Pedro Texeira writes of Kavah.

1613 Amsterdam Exchange built

1615 Coffee is introduced to Venice from which it seduces travelers from all Europe. It is popularly known as “The wine of Araby.”

1615 Italian, Pietro della Valle, while in Istanbul, writes to a friend in Rome that there is a drink used in Istanbul that prevents sleep.

1616 William Harvey, English physician, physiologist and professor of anatomy. Discoverer of circulation of blood and the function of the heart as a pump. Published in 1628. Apparently he got to know and appreciate the drink during his student days in Padua where he had been introduced to it by some Arab fellow students. This British habitué established the necessary connections to ensure a continued supply after returning to London.

1616 Merchant, Pieter Van der Broecke purchased coffee in Mocha and brought saplings back to Amsterdam botanical Gardens.

1618 Founding of Dutch West Africa Co.

1621 Dutch West India Co. founded

Beginning of Dutch spice monopoly

1625 Sugar is used for the first time to sweeten coffee in Cairo. Although sugarcane was native to Indonesia it was introduced and thrived in Egypt.

1625 First English settlement on Barbados

1627 Englishman, Sir Thomas Herbert traveled in an ambassadorial suite to Persia. 1627-1630 His report also chronicles the Kaldi goat story of he discovery of coffee

1632 First coffee shop in London

1636 Dutch settle Ceylon, coffee likely found from earlier Arab settlements

Tea appears for first time in Paris

1640 First European cafe in Venice. Coffee reportedly being served at various English colleges

1643 Coffee becomes popular in Paris

1650 First coffeehouse in England, Oxford.  First tea in England

1652 First London coffee establishment. A Greek named Pasqua Rosee, in collaboration with an Englishman, Daniel Edwards, opens a coffee shop “in a shed in the churchyard in St. Michael, Cornhill.

1657 Drinking of chocolate introduced in London

London excise tax on coffee merchants levied at 8 pence per gal.

Newspaper advertisement read: coffee served in London near the Old Exchange twice a day, once in the morning and again at three

1658 After forty years of considering the economic possibilities of the coffee trade, the Dutch begin cultivation in Ceylon.

1660 Café Procope opens in Paris

English duty on coffeehouse is listed as 4 pence per gal.

1660 1,900,000 kilos of Egyptian Mocha (105 of today’s containers) landed in Marseilles. One third for local consumption and the rest consigned to Northern Italy, Switzerland and Northern Europe.

1663 By royal decree all English coffee houses are required to be licensed. Guilds and taxation have caught up to coffee.

1663 First coffee shipment from Yemen to Amsterdam.

1663 Dutch East India Company establishes a branch in Mocha and exports between 80 and 200 tons annually.

1664 First coffeehouse opens in Amsterdam

1664 English export 22 tons from Yemen. 100 tons in 1690 and 600 tons in 1726.

1665 Ottoman peace treaty with France and Austria. Ambassador Kara Mahmud Pasha, sets up elaborate encampment in Vienna including coffee tents which introduced coffee to many in Vienna for the first time. Peace and trade lasted from 1667 to

1683 during which time coffee beans were imported into Vienna.

1687 Invention of the box-mill grinder with drawer. In common use by 1700.

1668 Coffee replaces beer as New York’s favorite breakfast drink. The same would happen in Germany two years later.

1669 Turkish Ambassador Suliman Aga brought coffee to the court of Louis XIV.

1670 Coffee is first sold in Boston 103 years before the Boston Tea party. Coffee used in royal household of Louis XIV

1671 First coffeehouse in Marseilles frequented by merchants

1671 Faustus Naironus Banesius, a Syrian Maronite monk and professor of philosophy in a tract on coffee recounts a story of the discovery of coffee. It is the most common and still widely told today. It recounts the tale of Kaldi, a goatherder, and his visit to a monastery. The Arab and Turkish versions of this legend are basically the same but no monastery or Christian monks are consulted to explain the odd behavior of his goats. Rather the herdsman follows his animals to the source of the intoxication and discovers coffee. In other versions there are two herdsmen named Sciadli and Aidrus.

1672 Pascal, an Armenian opens coffeehouse in Paris

1675 England’s King Charles II attempts to close 3000 coffee houses referring to them as “Seminaries of Sedition”

1679 First German coffeehouse

1683 First coffeehouse in Vienna Hof zur Blaun Flasche, House under the Blue Bottle Jerzy Franciszek Kulczycki considered a hero by the people of Vienna for his actions at the 1683 Battle of Vienna. According to a popular legend, he opened the first café in the city, using coffee beans left by the retreating Ottoman Turks. His name often rendered in German as Georg Franz Kolschitzky.

1686 An ad in the Frankfurt journal noted that an Italian merchant was selling    chocolate, tea and raw coffee beans.

1686 Café Procope opens in Paris

1687 Invention of European coffee mill

1688 Underwriters meet at Lloyds’s Coffeehouse

1689 London Coffeehouse opens in Boston

1690 Dutch introduced coffee from Arabia to Java. Dutch introduce coffee into Ceylon from Java

1696 The Dutch commander of the Malabar Coast, Adrian Van Ommeren took coffee berries from Cannnore to Batavia.

1696 Lloyd’s News, weekly newspaper first published. First coffeehouse opens in New York. The King’s Arms

1698 Mrs. White’s chocolate house opens in London, will become Tory party HQ

1697 Green Dragon coffeehouse opens in Boston

1700 Coffee introduced to Malabar Coast of India from Aden, Arabia

1702 Asiento Guinea Co founded for slave trade between Africa and America

1706 Dutch growers in Java send hoe first shipment of beans along with seedlings for the Amsterdam botanical museum.

1709 The French start buying coffee in Mocha

1711 First coffee imports to Amsterdam

1712 A Dutch Lt. Ressons presents Louis XIV with coffee seedling but it fails to thrive

1714 Brancas, Mayor of Amsterdam gifts another coffee tree to Louis XIV.

1714-15 On a second French privateering expedition to Mocha, the ships medical doctor has the opportunity to cure the Sultan of Yemen of a painful ear infection. In gratitude the Sultan presents him with 60 seedlings. The trees are presented to captain Dufresne d’Arsel of the Hunter, a ship owned by the French East India Company and taken to the Island of Bourbon. Forty die on the voyage and of the twenty delivered only one thrives. The surviving tree seeded the island 1726 saw the first export from Bourbon and continued until 1850 when sugar cane production became more lucrative.

1714 Dutch send seedlings to Surinam (Dutch Guyana). Seedlings were smuggled to Cayenne in neighboring French Guyana. By 1722 French Guyana was in the coffee business.

1715 French growing coffee in Haiti

1716 French growing coffee on Bourbon (Reunion)

1717 Coffee introduced into Portuguese Madagascar from Mozambique

Introduced into Bourbon and Mauritius from Arabia by Fougerais Grenier

1718 Dutch introduce coffee cultivation from Java to Surinam, Dutch Guiana

1719 Oriental Trading Co. founded in Vienna

1720 Army Lieutenant to Louis XIV, de Clieux transports coffee seedling to French Martinique, which will eventually supply seed to all South and Central America. In 1730 the first export shipment went to Ireland and Denmark because the French East India Company still held monopoly in France. 1736 the French monopoly ended and 700 tons were shipped to France.

1720 French growing coffee in French Guiana

1720 Caffe Florian opens in Venice

1720 Ostend coffee merchants buying coffee in Yemen

1722 Cayenne introduces coffee from Surinam

Dutch extend cultivation into Sumatra, Celebes, Bali, Timor and Flores

1726 Lloyd’s List published twice weekly in London

1727 Coffee first planted in Brazil

1728 Slave rebellion in Dutch Guiana

1730 English introduce coffee cultivation to Jamaica

1732 Introduced into Jamaica by Sir Nicholas Lawes

Bach’s celebrated Coffee Cantata is published in Leipzig

1740 Dutch introduce the “wet or washed” method of coffee processing

1748 Coffee from Santo Domingo introduced to Cuba

1750 Spanish introduce coffee into Cuba, Puerto Rico and other Carib islands

1750 Coffee cultivation started in Guatemala

1750 Mocha’s golden age of coffee export comes to an end as Dutch coffee from the East Indies and French coffee from the West Indies under cut the price of Yemen coffee.

1752 Brazil steps up coffee cultivation

1753 Linnaeus publishes “Species Plantorum”, coins name “Coffea Arabica”

1755 Coffee cultivation started in Puerto Rico

1756 First chocolate factory in Germany

1756 Introduction of coffee met with government resistance leading to a short lived Swedish ban on coffee drinking.

1760 Coffeehouses common in German cities

1760 Portuguese introduce seedlings to Brazil from Portuguese Goa on the Malabar Coast of India

1760 Slave rebellion in Jamaica

1770 First export of coffee from Cuba

Chicory is first used with coffee in Holland. It is the processed root of Belgian endive.

1770 Portuguese introduce coffee through Rio de Janeiro to start production in Minas Gerais

1774 Catholic missionaries encourage the spread of cultivation around Brazil

1767 or 1777 Frederick the Great of Prussia tries to block the importation of coffee as an economic protectionist policy when more money was being spent on imported coffee than domestic beer. His tax officers were charged to sniff out contraband    beans and came to be known as “coffee smellers”. Another justification went: “Many battles have been fought and won by soldiers nourished on beer and the   King does not believe that coffee-drinking soldiers can be depended upon.”

1784 Spanish introduce coffee to Caracas Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador and Bolivia

1790 Coffee cultivation started in Mexico

1791 Slave revolt in Santo Domingo (Haiti)

1794 Slavery abolished in French colonies

1796 Coffee introduced into Costa Rica

1800 Brazil exporting coffee

1802 France suppresses slave rebellion in Santo Domingo

1807 England prohibits slave trade

1810 Invention of the disk pulper. Drum pulper 1850

1818 Coffee cultivation started in Cordova and Orizaba, Mexico

1825 First cultivation of coffee in Hawaii is introduced from Brazil.

1827 Pumping percolator invented

1829 Slavery abolished in Mexico

1834 Spanish inquisition ended (1478-1834) after 356 years

1840 British increase coffee production in India

1840 Peugeot manufactures coffee mills until 1975

1843 Slave population in Cuba est. 436,000

1849 Daumsches kaffeehaus buys bentwood chairs designed by Frenchman, Michel Thonet. Known for their unique design, weight, strength and of course comfort they will become the style of choice in all coffee shops thereafter.

1850 Drum pulper invented. Important for washed coffee after abolition.

1852 Coffee introduced into El Salvador from Havana

1861 United States slavery ended

1869 Coffee rust epidemic devastates Ceylon coffee.

1879 Coffee plantations flourish in Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua

1900 Over production in Brazil, market crash

Today Coffee grows in about 80 countries around the world and is grown commercially in about half of them. Coffee is now the world’s most popular beverage second to water.

Note: dates are not verified but second hand references that should be considered only approximate.

*Netherlands enters the coffee fray. 1500 – 1700

With the increasing economic strength of the Netherlands, England and France during the 16th century, the outrageous claim to ownership to half the world, expressly sanctioned by the papacy, came under increasingly heavy attacks from the aspirant nations who were busily engaged in setting up their own capitalistic social orders. They opposed in word and deed the exclusive claims of Spain and Portugal. With advances in naval architecture, the building of bigger and better armed ships, a new “Sport of Kings” (and Queens) commenced, framed by the creation of alliances, signing treaties and conducting wars, sometimes with each other, sometimes against each other.

Territorial claims abounded, border treaties were signed and breached: plunder and freebooting were everyday occurrences; overseas possessions were seized, exchanged and sold. The one thing all these rulers seemed to have in common was ending monopoly on eastern trade. Surly greed and Empire has nothing to do with it.

By 1600 the example of the Medici were put to the test in Holland. The capitalistic system was taking form in the Netherlands with the formation of new State Banks and the creation of Joint Stock Companies. Holland was the first model capitalist nation in Western Europe. In 1602 the East India Company was founded and in 1621 the West Indies Company took form. These companies united under one organization previously disparate and rival companies and by means of through and well planned voyages over the worlds seas was able to break the dominance of Spain and Portugal.

Backed by enormous capital invested by shareholders, they managed to set up and maintain bases abroad, gain access to the “Spice islands” and intimidate the Portuguese. In the year of the founding of the Dutch East India Company (1602) five Dutch ships managed to destroy a small Portuguese fleet off the coast of Java. One year later the neighboring islands of Ternate and Amboina fell to the Dutch. In 1605 the Company inflected its heaviest defeat on the Portuguese in Southeast Asia by capturing the bases on the Moluccas, the gems of the Spice Islands.

In 1614 a delegation of merchants and horticulture specialists visited Aden in order to study how Arabs grew and processed coffee. Two years later a plant was exported to Amsterdam. From this tree seeds would be sent throughout Dutch colonies.

After 1626 with the establishment of the West Indies Company (1621) the Dutch stepped up activities in South America. They were already established in northern Brazil, much to the consternation of the Portuguese. In 1661 they sold these Brazilian possessions to the Portuguese and six years later (1667) exchanged their North American territories (New Amsterdam, 1664) with the British for what would become Dutch Guiana (Surinam). Coffee would not be the main export of Surinam but there is record of some production there in 1718.

Meanwhile, in 1658 the Dutch scaled up coffee production in Ceylon with new seed stock from Amsterdam. In 1699 seedlings were transplanted from the much closer, Malabar Coast to start new plantations on Java.  In succession, Sumatra, Bali, Timor and Celebes would support new coffee gardens.

It was here in what is now Indonesia that the Dutch improved the way coffee was to be processed. The original method practiced by the Arabs was unsuitable in the more humid tropical climes. The Dutch developed a system of removing the peal of the fruit before drying. This system would be copied around the world and become known as washed coffee or the wet process. In 1810 the disk pulper was invented and in 1850 the drum pulper was invented to mechanize the wet process. Previously slave labor was expended on manual pulping making the wet process much more expensive.