Coffee seedlings

The Discovery of Coffee

* when: circa 850 BC

* where: in an area of the world, we now call Ethiopia by the Galla tribe.

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 of  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 then grind the dried beans and brew the grounds with hot water.

Coffee Timeline

  • 1475 – The world’s first coffee shop, Kiva Han, opens in Constantinople.

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

  • 1511 – A corrupt Governor, Khair Berg, of Mecca bans coffee. The Sultan sends word that coffee is sacred and has the Governor executed.
  • 1600 –
  • Coffee, introduced to the West by Italian traders, grabs attention in high places. –

“The drink of the infidels, the work of the devil it must be banned”

Pope Clement VIII is urged by his advisers to consider that favorite drink of the Ottoman Empire part of the infidel threat.

Pope Clement VIII decides to “baptize” it instead, making it an acceptable Christian beverage.

  • 1668 – The humble beginnings of Lloyd’s of London – As a Coffeehouse!

Edward Lloyd’s coffeehouse opens in England and is frequented by merchants and maritime insurance agents. Eventually, it becomes Lloyd’s of London, the best-known insurance company in the world.

  • 1672 – First coffeehouse opens in Paris
  • 1675 – The Turkish Army surrounds Vienna.

Franz Georg Kolschitzky, a Viennese who had lived in Turkey, slips through the enemy lines to lead relief forces to the city.

The fleeing Turks leave behind sacks of “dry black fodder” that Kolschitzky recognizes as coffee.

He claims it as his reward and opens central Europe’s first coffee house.

He also establishes the habit of refining the brew by filtering out the grounds, sweetening it, and adding a dash of milk.


  • 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
  • 1727 –
  • A live coffee plant is smuggled to Brazil by Lieutenant colonel Francisco de Melo Palheta  who is sent by government to arbitrate a border dispute between the French and the Dutch colonies in Guiana.

Not only does he settle the dispute, but also strikes up a secret liaison with the wife of French Guiana’s Governor.

 France guarded its New World coffee plantations to prevent cultivation from spreading. The Govenor’s Wife said good-bye to Palheta with a bouquet in which she hid cuttings and fertile seeds of coffee.

The Lieutenant brought these seedlings and cuttings to Brazil.

This plant is the “mother” of 70% of the Worlds coffees.

  • 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.
  • 1901 – Instant (soluble) coffee is invented in Chicago.
  • 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”.
  • 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 market it.
  • 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 – Brazils 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’.
  • 1946 – Italian, Achilles Gaggia perfects the use of high pressure in espresso machines. Inventing Cappuccino which is named for the resemblance of its color to the robes of the monks of the Capuchin order.
  • 1950’s – Coffeehouses become the realm of America’s ultra-hip Beat Generation.
  • 1960 – Faema invents a pump driven espresso machine.
  • 1971 – Starbucks opens its first store in Seattle’s Pike Place public market, creating a frenzy over fresh-roasted whole bean coffee.
  • 1975 – Huge frost in Brazil destroying many plants and crops.
  • 1994 – Klekolo World Coffee Opens on March 18th

The world goes on, many memories are still made and coffee stays a huge part of world history in many small unnoticed ways.

~ Thanks for stopping by


*Above time line is estimated and originally put together by Hollie Rose added to and edited by me. The facts are real some of the dates may be close, not actual.

Categories: coffee


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