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Coffee home - Coffee history - A Coffee Timeline

A Coffee Timeline

A Coffee Timeline
Prior to 1000 AD: Members of the Galla tribe in Ethiopia notice that they get an energy boost when they eat a certain berry, ground up and mixed with animal fat. Another Ethiopian legend evolves, of goat herder Kaldi who notices goats are friskier after eating red berries of a local shrub. Kaldi then experiments with the berries himself and begins to feel happier.

1000 AD: Arab traders bring coffee back to their homeland and cultivate the plant for the first time on plantations. They also began to boil the beans, creating a drink they call qahwa (literally, "that which prevents sleep").

1453: Coffee is introduced to Constantinople by Ottoman Turks. The world's first coffee shop, Kiva Han, opens there in 1475. 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: Khair Beg, the corrupt governor of Mecca, tries to ban coffee for fear that its influence might foster opposition to his rule. The sultan sends word that coffee is sacred and has the governor executed.

Circa 1600: Coffee enters Europe through the port of Venice, introduced to the West by Italian traders. In Italy, Pope Clement VIII is urged by his advisers to consider the favourite drink of the Ottoman Empire part of the infidel threat. However, he decides to "baptize" it instead, making it an acceptable Christian beverage.

1607: Coffee is introduced to the New World by Captain John Smith, founder of Virginia at Jamestown.

1645: First coffee house opens in Italy.

1652: The first coffee house opens in England. Coffee houses are called "penny universities" - a penny is charged for admission and a cup of coffee. Edward Lloyd's coffee house opens in 1688. It eventually becomes Lloyd's of London, the world's best known insurance company. The word "TIPS" is coined in an English coffee house: A sign reading "To Insure Prompt Service" (TIPS) was place by a cup. Those desiring prompt service and better seating threw a coin into a tin.

1668: Coffee replaces beer as New York's City's favourite breakfast drink.

1672: The opening of the first Parisian café dedicated to serving coffee. In 1713, King Louis XIV is presented with a coffee tree. It is believed that sugar was first used as an additive in his court.

1675: The Turkish Army surrounds Vienna. Franz George 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.

1683: The first coffee house opens in Vienna. The Turks, defeated in battle, leave sacks of coffee behind.1690: With a coffee plant smuggled out of the Arab port of Mocha, the Dutch become the first to transport and cultivate coffee commercially, to Ceylon and in their East Indian colony - Java, source of the brew's nickname - for cultivation.

1713: The Dutch unwittingly provide Louis XIV of France with a coffee bush. His descendants will produce the entire Western coffee industry when in 1723 French naval officer Gabriel Mathieu de Clieu steals a seedling and transports it to Martinique. Within 50 years, an official survey records 19 million coffee trees on Martinique. Eventually, 90 per cent of the world's coffee spreads from this plant.

1721: First coffee house opens in Berlin.1727: The Brazilian coffee industry gets its start from seedlings smuggled out of Paris when Lieutenant Colonel Francisco de Melo Palheta, who would later be dubbed "the James Bond of Beans' by National Geographic, is sent by the government to arbitrate a border dispute between the French and the Dutch colonies in Guiana. Not only does he settle the dispute, but he also strikes up a secret liaison with the wife of French Guiana's governor. Although France guarded its New World coffee plantations to prevent cultivation from spreading, the lady said good-bye to Palheta with a bouquet in which she hid cuttings and fertile seeds of coffee.

1732: Johann Sebastian Bach composes his Kaffee-Kantate - partly an ode to coffee and partly a stab at the movement in Germany to prevent women from drinking coffee (it was thought to make them sterile) - the cantata includes the aria, "Ah! How sweet coffee tastes! Lovelier than a thousand kisses, sweeter far than muscatel wine! I must have my coffee."

1750: One of Europe's first coffee houses, Café Greco, opens in Rome. By 1763, Venice has over 2,000 coffee shops.

1773: The Boston Tea Party makes drinking coffee a patriotic duty in America.

1775: Prussia's Frederick the Great tries to block imports of green coffee, as Prussia's wealth is drained. Public outcry changes his mind.

1822: The prototype of the first espresso machine is created in France.

1885: A process of using natural gas and hot air becomes the most popular method of roasting coffee.

1886: Former wholesale grocer Joel Cheek names his popular coffee blend "Maxwell House," after the hotel in Nashville, TN where it's served.

Early 1900's: In Germany, afternoon coffee becomes a standard occasion. The derogatory term "Kaffee Klatsch" is coined to describe women's gossip at these affairs. The term has since been broadened to mean relaxed conversation in general.

1900: Hills Bros. begins packing coffee in vacuum tins, spelling the end of the ubiquitous local roasting shops and coffee mills.

1901: The first soluble "instant" coffee is invented by Japanese-American chemist Satori Kato of Chicago.

1903: German coffee importer Ludwig Roselius turns a batch of ruined coffee beans over to researchers, who perfect the process of removing caffeine from the beans without destroying the flavour. He markets it under the brand name Sanka, which is introduced to the United States in 1923.

1905: The first commercial espresso machine is manufactured in Italy.

1906: George Constant Washington, an English chemist living in Guatemala, notices a powdery condensation forming on the spout of his silver coffee carafe. After experimentation, he creates the first mass-produced instant coffee.

1907: In less than a century, Brazil accounts for 97 per cent of the world's coffee bean harvest.

1920: Prohibition goes into effect in United States. Coffee sales boom.

1938: Having been asked by Brazil to help find a solution to their coffee surpluses, Nestle company invents freeze-dried coffee. Nestle develops Nescafé and introduces it in Switzerland.

1942: During WWII, American soldiers are issued instant Maxwell House coffee in their ration kits. Back home, widespread hoarding leads to coffee rationing.

1946: In Italy, Achilles Gaggia perfects his espresso machine with a piston that creates a high pressure extraction to produce a thick layer of cream. Cappuccino is named for the resemblance of its colour to the robes of the monks of the Capuchin order.

1969: One week before Woodstock, the Manson Family murders coffee heiress Abigail Folger as she visits with friend Sharon Tate in the home of filmmaker Roman Polanski, Tate's husband.

1971: Starbucks opens its first store in Seattle's Pike Place public market, creating a frenzy over fresh-roasted whole bean coffee.

1991: Caffé Carissimi Canada, a network of espresso service providers is formed in Canada, modelled after a visit to Franco Carissimi (roaster and equipment manufacturer) in Bergamo Italy. It becomes the fastest growing network of private and independent super automatic machines providers in Canada.

Today: Coffee is the world's most popular beverage. More than 400 billion cups are consumed each year. It is the world's largest commodity, second only to oil.

Coffee home - Coffee history - A Coffee Timeline

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