When? Circa 850 BC. Where? An area of the world we now call Ethiopia. The Legend: A lowly goatherd named Kaldi awoke from his nap one afternoon to find his charges frolicking and dancing about. The goats were eating red berries off a nearby bush. Intrigued by the behavior of his goats, he tasted of the berries himself.
And Kaldi danced!
Coffee berries quickly gained popularity by those needing endurance. Travelers of The Galla tribe from Ethiopia, started the tradition of mixing the berries with animal fat and rolling it into little balls to take on trips. Those who wished to pray all night found that the berries helped them to stay awake. The cherries were dried for transport and then reconstituted in water creating a wine-like substance. The wine was known as qahwa. (translation – ‘that which prevents sleep’) The Turks were the first to roast and grind the dried beans and also the first to mix the grounds with hot water.
1475 – The world’s first coffee shop opens in Constantinople, where it becomes legal for a
woman to divorce her husband if he fails to provide her with her daily coffee quota
1511 – A corrupt Governor of Mecca bans coffee. The Sultan sends word that coffee is
sacred and has the Governor executed.
1529 – Turkish Armies, fleeing Vienna, leave behind “many sacks of dry black fodder”.
Vienna’s first coffee house opens.
1600 – Coffee is brought to the Pope’s attention – “The drink of the infidels, the work of
the devil it must be banned” The Pope blesses and baptizes coffee instead.
1607 – It is believed that John Smith (one of the
founders of Virginia) brought coffee to the New World.
1645 – First coffeehouse opens in Italy.
1652 – First coffeehouse opens in England.
1668 – The humble beginnings of Lloyd’s of London – As a Coffeehouse !
1672 – First coffeehouse opens in Paris
1690 – The Dutch are the first to successfully smuggle a coffee seedling out of Arabia.
They bring it to the Island of Java.
1700- With nearly 2000 coffeehouses in London. King Charles II banned them because they
were regarded as hotbeds of revolution; the ban lasted 11 days . The term “Penny
University” is applied to Coffeehouses because for the price of a cup of coffee one
can be educated in all subjects in these community centers.
1721 – First coffeehouse opens in Berlin
1723- The wife of a Dutch officer smuggles a coffee seedling to a departing French Naval
Officer in a bouquet of flowers. He brings it to Martinique. 90% of the worlds coffee
plants are descended from this one plant.
1727 – A live coffee plant is smuggled to Brazil.
1732 – Johann Sebastian Bach composes an ode to Coffee: Kaffee-Kantate. “Ah! How sweet
coffee tastes! Lovelier than a thousand kisses, sweeter far than muscatel wine!
I must have my coffee.”
1763 – By now Venice has more than 2000 Coffeehouses.
1773- Dec. 17 – Boston Tea Party, Americans revolt against King George’s Tea Tax and
coffee is soon after proclaimed the national beverage.
1776 – The Declaration of Independence is written and devised by the regulars at The
Green Dragon Coffeehouse in Boston.
1802 – Early experiments with a new way to brew coffee via steam – Espresso!
1822 – The first prototype of an espresso machine comes out of France.
1885 – The process of roasting the green beans with hot air becomes popular.
1901 – The first commercial espresso machine is patented by Luigi Bezzera.
1903 – A German man, Ludwig Roselius, turns a batch of ruined beans over to researchers.
There is no caffeine in it! He later markets “Sanka”.
1905 – The first commercial espresso machines are manufactured in Italy.
1906 – An Englishman, George Constant Washington, living in Guatemala discovers “instant”
coffee (from the substance forming on the spout of his carafe) and begins to mass
1908 – Melitta Bentz, another German, starts using blotting paper to make commercial
coffee filters for use in his new automatic drip machines. 1920 – Alcohol Prohibition
in the US causes coffee consumption to rise dramatically.
1933 – The first automatic espresso machine is developed and perfected by Dr. Earnest Illy.
1938 – Brazil’s coffee excess gives rise to the invention of freeze-dried coffee by Nestle.
1940 – By now America is importing as much as 70% of the world’s coffee crop.
1942 – American Troops ration kits now contain coffee instead of beer. The idea comes
from Admiral Josephus Daniels and hence the term ‘cup of joe’.
1945 – Italian, Achilles Gaggia perfects the use of high pressure in espresso machines.
1950’s – Coffeehouses become the realm of America’s ultra-hip Beat Generation.
1960 – Faema invents a pump driven espresso machine.
1994 – Klekolo World Coffee Opens on March 18th .