Coffee History, 5 Articles: Discovery of Coffee, History of Coffee Tree, English Coffee Houses, Java, Mocha...  

The New York Times, March 6, 1887, p. 12:

First Discovery of Coffee.

    Playfair, in his History of Yemen (Bombay, 1859,) gives the names of many who have written in bygone days on that country and on coffee. He mentions its first use at Aden by a judge of that place who had seen it drank at Zeylá, on the African coast opposite Aden. This judge is said to have died A. H. 875 (A. D. 1470.) Probably some of the writers mentioned by Playfair read or wrote by mistake that coffee was first used in A. D. 875, and, perhaps, the same writer, misunderstanding the Arabic expression as to Zeylá being "on the non-Arabian coast," and thinking it meant Persia, and thence introduced into Arabia...

    There is an account in a Turkish work written two centuries ago, and printed at Contantinople in A. D. 1732, that places the first use of coffee as a beverage in about the year A. D. 1250. The ripe fruit was found growing wild in the mountains of Yemen by a community of dervishes banished thither. They found the fruit relieved their hunger, and supported them in their vigils. Their prior, Sheykh 'Umer, advised their stewing it, and its use became established.

    They dried a store of the fruit, and its use spread to other dervish communities, who perhaps sowed the seed wherever it would thrive throughout Africa and India.

    From Africa, two centuries later, its use was reimported to Arabia at Aden by the Judge above mentioned, who, in a season of scarcity of the dried fruit, tried the seed. Dervishes introduced the beverage at Mecca and Cairo; but, to this day, the people of Yemen use the dried pericarp only for their coffee, and export the seed to those who prefer it.
The Academy.   
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The New York Times, February 4, 1896, p. 2:

Coffee as a Beverage.

The Retail Grocers Told of Its Discovery in Abyssinia
and Its Spread Throughout the World.

    Cornelius Morrison, a coffee broker, read a paper on "Coffee" before the New-York Retail Grocers Union in its hall in East Fifty-Seventh Street last night.
    He said that coffee had been used as a beverage in Abyssinia from time immemorial, and had been brought thence to Arabia by wandering Arabs about the fifteenth century. From Arabia it was brought into Egypt and Constantinople.

    Leonhard Rauwolf was probably the first to make coffee known to Europe by the account of his travels published in 1573. The first coffee house established in Europe was in Constantinople in 1551, and the first one in London was opened in 1652. The first one in Marseilles was established in 1671, and there were several in Paris in 1672...

    For more than fifty years after its introduction into Europe, Arabia furnished the entire coffee supply of the world. Then the Hollanders in the second decade of the eighteenth century made their appearance in the markets of Europe with the product of Java. The culture then extended to the West Indies, and thence to South America. Brazil not only soon overtook Java, but continued to advance until at the present time more than one-half of the coffee consumed in the world comes from Brazil. Java now holds third place in the production, Venezuela and the United States of Colombia take second place...

The Los Angeles Times, December 20, 1900, p. I5:

History of the Coffee Tree.

    (Meehan's Monthly.) J. H. Witte, a well-known horticulturalist of Leyden, gives Kaffra, in the southern part of Abyssinia, as the native place of the coffee tree. He mentions Arabian legends as samples of strange customs in connection with its use.
    It was not till centuries after its use that is was carried to Java, from whence the first samples were received in 1706. A tree from Java was then sent to the Botanic Garden in Amsterdam, and when it flowered and ripened seeds a young seedling was sent to Louis XIV. From this plant seedlings were sent to Martinique--and from these plants, again, seedlings were sent to Jamaica, Cayenne and St. Domingo, while from Amsterdam plants were sent to Surinam.
    In fact, it was from the one plant, sent from Java in the beginning of the eighteenth century by Gov.-Gen. Van Hoorn that everything in the French possessions and the West Indies has sprung. In this way has traveled the progeny of the original coffee plant, introduced [to Java] from Arabia through Burgomaster Nocoloos Witsen at the end of the seventeenth century...

The Los Angeles Times, June 30, 1899, p. 7:


    ...Coffee, the cultivated sort, is not indigenous to America, and what is more remarkable, the total coffee growth of the continent is the offspring of a single imported tree or shrub. The history is interesting.

    Down to nearly the end of the seventeenth century the only source of coffee supply in the world was Arabia. In the year 1690, Gov.-Gen. Van Hoorne of the Dutch East Indies obtained from some traders a few coffee seeds that had come from Arabia. These he planted in his garden in Batavia, in Java. Very soon the cultivation of coffee became general throughout Java; and from Java it soon spread to other Dutch possessions in the east, especially Ceylon.
    One of the first plants produced in Java was sent by Van Hoorne to Holland as a present to the governor of the Dutch East India Company. This was planted in the botanic garden in Amsterdam.

    Shortly afterward young plants obtained from seeds borne by Van Hoorne's plant were sent to Surinam (Guiana,) a Dutch possession in South America.

    In 1718 the cultivation of coffee was well established in Surinam. Shortly afterward coffee plants from Surinam were introduced into the West Indies. From the West Indies the culture extended to Central America, Mexico, Venezuela, and northern Brazil and other countries on the continent. Finally, about the middle of the last century, it was introduced into that portion of Brazil--the districts about Rio and Santos--where it has since been prosecuted so advantageously.
    Thus from a single plant sent to Holland from Java has developed the culture that now provides five-sixths of the coffee of the world. There must be on the American continent and in the West Indies at least 1,500,000,000 coffee trees descended from that one plant. And from the few seeds obtained by Gov. Van Hoorne in 1690 has developed practically the whole of the coffee culture of the world outside of Arabia and Africa.

    Although the botanical name of the coffee tree is "coffea arabica," Arabia is not the indigenous home of coffee. The primeval habitat of the coffee tree is supposed to be Abyssinia, in which country it is still found wild. Coffee is also supposed to have been used from a most remote period as a beverage in Abyssinia. But Abyssinia is near Arabia, and early in the fifteenth century coffee was introduced into Arabia, where since its first introduction it has been grown with a perfection that elsewhere seems unattainable. In Arabia, too, the preparation of coffee as a beverage, it is said, exceeds in perfection its preparation in all other countries.
    The use of coffee in other countries than Arabia developed somewhat slowly. In western Europe the Dutch were the first people to become fond of it. This, no doubt, was because of the fact that, as we have seen, coffee was early cultivated in the Dutch colonies of the east. The Dutch early became, and have ever since remained, the greatest coffee drinkers in the world.

    In eastern Europe, even before it was known in the west, a knowledge of the use of coffee was obtained from the Arabians by the Turks. It was in this way that it got into England. In the middle of the seventeenth century a Turkey merchant of London named Edwards brought some coffee home with him, and introduced it to his friends. The first coffee house in London was opened in 1652 by a servant of Edwards.
    Though at first the London coffee houses met with much opposition from the government, by the end of the century they became the most popular places of entertainment that Londoners frequented. By the beginning of the eighteenth century the use of coffee as a beverage was pretty general throughout Europe.
    In this respect, in point of time, coffee preceded tea. Tea was a novelty in England long after the common use of coffee was well established. But by the beginning of the eighteenth century tea, as well as coffee, was a considerable article of import...

    In Arabia... it is only in the province of Yemen where coffee is grown. But in Yemen the conditions are almost ideal. The coffee plantations are situated on slopes that rise to some elevation above the sea, and are at some distance from it. During the day thick mists ascend from the low coast regions, which, spreading over the plantations in the uplands, protect them from the fierce heat of the sun. As the heat diminishes, the mists disappear, and at night, when otherwise the coffee shrubs would suffer from the coolness, warm airs ascend from the coastal regions and pass over the plantations. In this way the plantations are maintained at an equal temperature throughout the twenty-four hours of the day...
    The coffee of Yemen (Mocha) is esteemed the best in the world, but little Mocha coffee gets out of Arabia, or at least beyond Turkey and Armenia. Ceylon once had an excellent reputation for its coffee, but so many natural obstacles arose to impede coffee cultivation in Ceylon that Ceylonese coffee plantations have been largely converted into tea plantations...

    Note--Returns now complete show that the world's coffee production for 1898 amounted to over 2,000,000,000 pounds. This is 25 per cent. more than the production for 1897, and more than 50 per cent. in excess of the production for 1896. The proportion of this amount contributed by Brazil was over 70 per cent.

    In consequence of this great increase in production, the price of "good average" coffee in the world's markets for 1898 was not more than two-thirds what it was in 1897, and not more than four-ninths what it was in 1896.

The Los Angeles Times, April 23, 1916, p. IV12:

English Coffee Houses.

    (Pall Mall Gazette:) Coffee, though its use in England is not large nowadays comparatively, has stamped its name curiously on the national history and language. Even to this day in old-fashioned hotels the dining-room is always the coffee-room.

    It was in 1637 that Evelyn noted how "there came in my time to the college one Nathaniel Conoplos out of Greece. He was the first that I ever saw drink coffee, which custom came not into England till thirty years after."

    Another authority says that in 1652 "one Mr. Edwards, a Turkey merchant, brought home with him a Greek servant, who understood the roasting and making of coffee and kept a house in London for that purpose." That was the first of the coffee houses which played so large a part in our early eighteenth century history and were the forerunners of the clubs.
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Classic Coffee Articles:
Coffee History-5 articles 1887-1916
How to Make Coffee 1866
Ceylon Coffee Culture 1878
Coffee Growing in Guatemala 1888
Coffee in Nicaragua 1894
Coffee Culture in Mexico 1898
Coffee Culture in Hawaii 1898
Coffee Planting in Brazil 1899
Coffee Fields in Puerto Rico 1899

Classic Tea Articles:
Tea in China 1854
Tea Growing in India 1862
Tea Growing in Ceylon 1888

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