History of Coffee

Did you realise?

  • It's thanks to Islam that we have coffee: Muslims in mediaeval times were allowed coffee as a substitute for alcohol
  • Coffee originated in Yemen, Ethiopia and the Arabian peninsula
  • The first coffee shop? Some say Constantinople in 1475; others say Damascus around 1520
  • England's first coffee house? 1650 in Oxford; 1652 in London
  • Coffee shops were, according to www.realcoffee.co.uk , "crowded, smelly, noisy, feisty, smoky", and frequented mostly by men
  • A satirical 'petition' in 1674 calls for coffee only to be served to the over 60s and complains that coffee houses take men away from their domestic duties: "We can Attribute to nothing more than the Excessive use of that Newfangled, Abominable, Heathenish Liquor called COFFEE, which... has so Eunucht our Husbands, and Cripple our more kind Gallants..." (This is supposedly a "Women's petition", but there is no evidence of who really wrote it...)
  • In 1732, Johann Sebastian Bach wrote a cantata dedicated to coffee. Two soprano arias show the importance of coffee in 18th century Europe
  • Ah! how sweet coffee tastes!
    Lovelier than a thousand kisses,
    smoother than muscatel wine.
    Coffee, I must have coffee,
    and if anyone wants to give me a treat,
    ah!, just give me some coffee!


    If you don't give up coffee,
    you won't be going to any wedding
    and you won't go out walking either.

  • 1822: The first espresso machine was made in France
  • 1933: Illy made the first automatic espresso machine
  • 1946: Gaggia developed the high-pressure steam espresso system
  • 1949: Bar Italia opened in Soho, central London - and is still there today, still using the Gaggia machine
  • It takes 42 coffee beans to make an espresso
  • The word 'cappuccino' describes the foam on top of the coffee which is supposed to resemble a capuchin monk's habit
  • It's OK to ask for a 'latte' in English-speaking countries, but beware in Italy, where your 'latte' order will bring you a glass of milk! Best order a 'latte machiato' if that's what you want...
  • A third of the world drinks coffee today.

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