Our culture runs on coffee and gasoline,the first often tasting like the second.

Edward Abbey

According to the Wikipedia the history of coffee has been recorded as far back as the tenth century. During that time, coffee remained largely confined to Ethiopia where its native beans were first cultivated by Ethiopian highlanders. However, the Arab world began expanding its trade horizons, and the beans moved into northern Africa and were mass-cultivated. From there, the beans entered the Indian and European markets, and the popularity of the beverage spread.

The word “coffee” entered English in 1598 via Italian caffè. This word was created via Turkish kahve, which in turn came into being via Arabic qahwa, a truncation of qahhwat al-bun or wine of the bean. One possible origin of both the beverage and the name is the Kingdom of Kaffa in Ethiopia, where the coffee plant originated (its name there is bunn or bunna). It has remained very closely related to the original words in various other languages such as in Finnish: kahvi; and in Swedish: kaffe. The earliest mention of coffee may be a reference to Bunchum in the works of the 10th century CE Persian physician Razi, but more definite information on the preparation of a beverage from the roasted coffee berries dates from several centuries later. Coffee beans were first exported from Ethiopia to Yemen. Yemeni traders brought coffee back to their homeland and began to cultivate the bean.

The first coffee house was Kiva Han, which opened in Istanbul in 1471. Coffee was not well received to begin with; it was first imported to Italy, according to historic sources. The vibrant trade between the Italian city of Venice and the Muslims in North Africa, Egypt, and the East brought a large variety of African goods, including coffee, to this leading European port. Venetian merchants decided to introduce coffee to the wealthy in Venice, charging them heavily for the beverage. Yes, indeed the Merchants of Venice are still famous today in our day!

The first European coffee house (apart from those in the Ottoman Empire, mentioned above) was opened in Italy in 1645. Coffee became available in England no later than the 16th century according to Leonhard Rauwolf’s 1583 account and by 1675, there were more than 3,000 coffeehouses in England. In Victorian England, the temperance movement set up coffeehouses for the working classes, as a place of relaxation free of alcohol, an alternative to the public house (pub).

What is so interesting to read is that women were forbidden in some countries such as England and France, but not in Germany, to frequent these coffee houses at the time! She was ’allowed’ to boil and serve it, though! The banning of women from coffeehouses was not universal, but does appear to have been common in Europe. What is amazing is that there was a petition against the brew by women in 1674! How far have we women got now, for is it not our dearly loved beverage of choice these days?!

In 1669, Soleiman Agha, Ambassador from Sultan Mehmed IV, arrived in Paris with his entourage bringing with him a large quantity of coffee beans. Not only did they provide their French and European guests with coffee to drink, but they also donated some beans to the royal court. Between July 1669 and May 1670, the Ambassador managed to firmly establish the custom of drinking coffee among Parisians. There is a coffeehouse in Paris The Cafe Le Procope’– established in 1686 – which still exists today.

In Les Entretiens des caffés, 1702, remarked:

“The cafés are most agreeable places, and ones where one finds all sorts of people of different characters. There one sees fine young gentlemen, agreeably enjoying themselves; there one sees the savants who come to leave aside the laborious spirit of the study; there one sees others whose gravity and plumpness stand in for merit. Those, in a raised voice, often impose silence on the deftest wit, and rouse themselves to praise everything that is to be blamed, and blame everything that is worthy of praise. How entertaining for those of spirit to see originals setting themselves up as arbiters of good taste and deciding with an imperious tone what is over their depth!”

The first coffeehouse in Austria opened in Vienna in 1683 after the Battle of Vienna, by using supplies from the spoils obtained after defeating the Turks, with the mysterious sacks of green beans left behind by the Turks. The officer who received the coffee beans, Polish military officer Franciszek Jerzy Kulczycki, opened the coffee house and helped popularize the custom of adding sugar and milk to the coffee. Aha, that is where the origins of a good Latte are!

The introduction of coffee to the Americas is attributed to France through its colonization of many parts of the continent starting with the Martinique and the colonies of the West Indies where the first French coffee plantations were founded. The first coffee plantation in Brazil occurred in 1727 and by the 1800s, Brazil’s harvests would turn coffee from an elite indulgence to a drink for the masses.

Many believed coffee to have several medicinal properties in this period. For example, a 1661 tract entitled “A character of coffee and coffee-houses”, written by one “M.P.”, lists some of these perceived virtues:

“ ‘Tis extolled for drying up the Crudities of the Stomack, and for expelling Fumes out of the Head. Excellent Berry! which can cleanse the English-man’s Stomak of Flegm, and expel Giddinesse out of his Head. ”

And, not only the English-man’s insides but also this Finnish-woman’s et all the other nationalities these days!

This for now. Riihele xx


Picture: off the net.

On A Wing and A… Slide Show


The slide show is a story of the flights which I took in May

on the way to & from Israel via Vienna

– the first few photos with the evening sky –

then leaving Israel in the morning haze

and landing on again in Vienna midday.

The next flight is totally un-photographed simply

because a concert cellist sat besides me all the way to Copenhagen,

and the cello had the window seat. Ahem – though, it was booked for me.

From Denmark it was off to Helsinki landing there late afternoon.
Tis for now. Riihele xx

© Photos: By Riihele. All rights reserved.