A history of coffee

We continue our history of coffee by Exploring some of the evidence and history of how coffee came to Europe from Africa. Our story picks up from the legends, explored in the previous posts and looks at more historically based information. Stay in touch with our blog to read on about how coffee transitioned to America in subsequent posts.

How coffee came to Europe

During the Middle Ages, coffee plants were systemically cultivated nearby the Red Sea, by Arabs who strictly forbade exports in a serious effort to maintain the monopoly of their cultivation. With the invention of roasting, coffee evolved into a particularly attractive beverage throughout the entire Islamic world and the areas that were under Arabian regime. Its popularity was mostly due to the prohibition of alcohol imposed by religion. Coffee was permitted in the houses and gathering places of the time, which gradually proliferated as a result of the plant’s impeccable reputation. In those places, the residents of the surrounding areas used to drink coffee, listen to music, gamble, and engage in long conversations pertinent to the problems of their times. 

 A modern Bazaar

A modern Bazaar

On a historical note

Many anthropologists have consistently supported that the initial utilization of coffee goes back to the Stone Age. The first coffee plants are found in Africa, more specifically in Ethiopia. There is some evidence to suggest the coffee fruit was used by the local populations who either chew it or ground it for consumption. The first written scripts about coffee date back to 900AD and are commonly associated to the Persian doctor, Razi. Τhe preparation of the classic coffee drink as we know it today (i.e the process of roasting, grounding, and boiling the seeds) began around the 14th Century AD in the Arabic world and possibly by the same means as the legends we explored earlier suggest. The Arabs were the first to adopt coffee, often adding to it a mix of cinnamon, cardamom and anise. 

We also know that in 1554, merchants from Damascus brought coffee to Instanbul, in modern day Turkey. Impressed by this invigorating new and exotic drink, European travellers who were there at the time, described coffee in their trade reports in terms of fragrance and taste as splendid.

Yet numerous historians nowadays agree that it was the Venetian merchants who were the first ones to actually introduce coffee to mainland Europe. Rumour has it that at first feudal Europe, encountered this new delicacy with scepticism and it was not until Pope Clement VIII that the drink became popular. Pope Clement excited by the smell of coffee and it's taste, defied advice from those around him who wanted to label coffee as an Islamic threat and named it instead a Christian beverage.

Here at Love My Cup we love the romance of the coffee story and believe that the humble origins of our beloved, delicious beverage make it all the most appealing. The ethically sourced beans that go in our own blends, are produced in South America and we we will explore the story of how they are produced before they are brought to your cup in the coming weeks!

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