c.700 A.D. – Coffee is cultivated in the Red Sea region.
c.850 A.D. – The renowned author Homer refers to a beverage that is bitter and black and which is great for helping people ward off the desire to sleep. These references are also found in some Arabian legends from this time period.
c.1000 – A Mohammedan philosopher and physician named Avicenna Bukhara describes the medicinal properties of coffee, also calling it bunchum.
c.1100 – The first coffee plants are cultivated on the Arabian peninsula after Arab traders bring the coffee back to their homeland. The Arabs make a beverage they call qahwa by crushing the green coffee beans and placing them in boiling water. Later they would begin roasting the beans to improve the drink’s quality and effects – qahwa means “that which prevents sleep.”
c.1200 – Coffee is brought to Turkey which becomes the first place where the coffee beans’ dried hulls and and beans are roasted using clay or stone dishes heated over an open fire. The roasted beans are crushed and placed into boiling water and then the coffee is consumed along with the grounds.
1200s – Coffee houses in Arabian villages are called qahveh kaneh and are places were backgammon and other activities take place.
People gather and share ideas in the coffee houses causing local rulers start to see these places as a threat, and so they begin to try to impose restrictions.
The coffee houses only grow in popularity, however, and soon become common in villages. Home coffee consumption also becomes more prevalent.
c.1350 – Coffee is served in crafted pottery ewers in Turkey, Egypt, and Persia – this is considered to be the first appearance of coffee pots.
1300s – While the Arabs were previously dependent on Ethiopia as a coffee source, during this century plants were smuggled from that country and planted in the area today known as Yemen. The seeds of the plants are made sterile to prevent anyone else from cultivating coffee.
[Coffee is thought to have spread from Ethiopia to Egypt and Yemen where it was first roasted, and then by the 16th century it spread throughout the Middle East, Turkey, Persia, and into northern Africa.
Later coffee spread from the Muslim regions to Italy and then very quickly throughout Europe. The Dutch then brought coffee to the East Indies and the Americas.]
1450 – In Persia and Turkey circular roasting plates of metal or earthenware are used to roast coffee beans over a brazier, which is a basin holding live coals.
The roasting plates are about five inches in diameter and slightly concave with very small holes. Some of these braziers were mounted on legs and adorned with a rich ornamentation.
1454 – The mufti of Aden whose name is Sheik Gemaleddin, traveled to Abyssinia where he first experienced coffee, and as a result he sanctioned it in Arabia Felix (the southern Arabian peninsula including Yemen).
Coffee soon spreads to Mecca and coffee houses called Kaveh Kanes are established and serve as places for singing, religious meetings, and storytelling.
1475 – The first coffee shop in the world is opened in Constantinople by Ottoman Turks and is called Kiva Han.
1475 – Turkish law allows a woman to divorce her spouse if he does not supply a daily coffee quota.
1475-1500 – Coffee use spreads to Mecca and Medina in Arabia. The secular use of coffee becomes more common, partly due to the prohibition against wine by the Koran. Some holy men claim that coffee too goes against the Koran.
1500 – Coffee is sold by traders from the ports of Smyrna and Alexandria.
1500 – Roasting coffee beans and brewing the coffee beverage has become quite common by this date, and in Mesopotamia and Bagdad the coffee roasting is assisted by the use of a shallow iron dipper that has a very long handles as well as a little footrest. Coffee houses continue to open in Arabia.
1511 – Mecca’s corrupt governor, whose name is Khair Bey [Khair Beg], attempts to ban coffee for fear it will encourage his opponents to rebel against him.
Furthermore, the governor declares, those who are spending time drinking coffee and frequenting coffee houses should instead be attending to their prayers at a Mosque.
Constantinople is shut down by the merchants for a week until the sultan of Cairo orders the execution of the governor and declares that coffee is sacred.
c.1511 – An Arabic poem reads, “O Coffee, thou dost dispel all care, thou art the object of desire to the scholar.”
1524 – The Ottoman Turkish Sultan Selim I overturns bans on coffee imposed by orthodox imams at Mecca theological courts. This was followed by a fatwa permitting coffee consumption being issued by the Grand Mufti Mehmet Ebussuud el-Imadi.
1524 – Public coffee houses are closed by the Kadi of Mecca and the beverage is only permitted to be consumed in private in one’s home. The coffee houses are allowed to open again with a license when the Kadi’s successor assumes authority.
1530 – Coffee arrives in Damascus.
1532 – Coffee houses are banned in Cairo, Egypt leading to the sacking of coffee bean warehouses and coffee shops.
1534 – A mob attacks Cairo coffee houses due to religious fanaticism and many of the coffee houses are damaged. With the city divided over whether it is appropriate to allow the tasty beverage, the matter is settled by the chief judge.
After consulting with local doctors and drinking some himself, the judge decides to allow coffee drinking.
1540s – Coffee roasting is common in Turkey.
1542 – Despite a ban on coffee by Sultan Suleiman the Great (Soliman II), which was imposed due to the solicitation of one of his favorite court ladies, the number of coffee houses in Constantinople continues to increase as coffee’s presence grows throughout the Ottoman Empire.
1554 – Constantinople’s first coffee houses are opened by Hekem of Aleppo and Shemsi of Damascus.
1570 – The mufti in Constantinople declares that coffee is forbidden by the law at the behest of religious zealots who are angered over the popularity of coffee houses which are ordered closed by Amurath III on religious grounds as forbidden by the Koran just like wine.
The populace does not strictly observe this decree, however, and continues to be consumed privately in houses and some shops.
1573 – The book Rauwolf’s Travels by German physician Leonhard Rauwolf is the first European mention of coffee and the first print reference about coffee.
Referred to as chaube, Rauwolf noted coffee’s presence in Ottoman Aleppo. Soon after this numerous other traveling Europeans would bring back news of this interesting coffee beverage.
“A very good drink they call Chaube that is almost as black as ink and very good in illness, especially of the stomach. This they drink in the morning early in the open places before everybody, without any fear or regard, out of clay or China cups, as hot as they can, sipping a little at a time.”
1580 – News of coffee is brought to Italy by the Italian botanist and physician Alpinus (Propero Alpini).
1582 – News of coffee houses and coffee drinking are recorded by the Venice high judge G. Francesco Morosini who is serving as the ambassador of the Venetian Republic to the Sultan.
Later as city magistrate in Constantinople he tells the Venetian Senate how the Turks are enjoying this “black water” which he says is the “infusion of a bean called cavee.”
The manuscript was authored by Sheik Abd-al-Kadir [Abd al-Qadir al-Jaziri] and titled Umdat al safwa fi hill al-qahwa. The manuscript claims that the first person to use coffee, in 1454, was Sheikh, Jamal-al-Din al Dhabhani who was the mufti of Aden.
Also discussed is how coffee traveled from Arabia Felix (Yemen) north to Medina and Mecca, and later onto the big cities of Damascus, Cairo, Istanbul and Baghdad.
Today the manuscript is preserved in the Bibliotheque Nationale in Paris, France. In his writings Sheik Abd-al-Kadir states, “No one can understand the truth until he drinks of coffee’s frothy goodness.”
1592 – Prospero Alpini, a Paduan who was also a renowned physician and botanist, publishes a Latin volume called “The Plants of Egypt” in Venice and it contains what is considered to be the first written description of the coffee beverage, which was known as caova, and the coffee plant, which was called bon.
Alpini also wrote about coffee in “De Planctis Aegyptii et de Medicina Aegiptiorum.”
1596 – The botanist de l’Ecluse is sent seeds that the Egyptians were said to use to make a beverage called cave. The seeds were sent to the botanist by a man named Belli.
1598 – A note in the book Linschoten’s Travels by Paludanus is considered to be the first English printed reference to coffee. The book was published in London after being translated from Dutch (koffie).
The Dutch word koffie came from the Turkish kahve and the Arabic qahwa, which itself was a truncation of qahwat al-bun which means “wine of the bean.” The word may have originated in the Ethiopia’s Kingdom of Kaffa where it is called bunna or bunn.
1599 – The first Englishman who brings news of coffee consumption in the Orient is Sir Antony Sherley who sails to Aleppo from Venice.
Next see Coffee History / 1600-1650