Saturday, December 5, 2009

Shipping Java Coffee by Sailing Ship

Shipping Java CoffeeUp to 1915 it was the custom to ship considerable Java coffee to New York in slow-going sailing vessels of the type in favor a hundred years ago. Java coffees "ex-sailing ships" always commanded a premium because of the natural sweating they experienced in transit. Attempts to imitate this natural sweating process by steam-heating the coffees that reached New York by the faster-going steamship lines, and interference therewith by the pure-food authorities, caused a falling off in the demand for "light," "brown," or "extra brown" Dutch East Indian growths; and gradually the picturesque sailing vessels were seen no more in New York harbor. At the end they were mostly Norwegian barks of the type of the Gaa Paa.

It usually took from four to five months to make the trip from Padang or Batavia to New York. Crossing the Equator twice, first in the Indian Ocean, then in the South Atlantic, the trip was more than equal to circumnavigating the earth in our latitude. In the hold of the vessel the cargo underwent a sweating that gave to the coffee a rare shade of color and that, in the opinion of coffee experts, greatly enhanced its flavor and body. The captain always received a handsome gratuity if the coffee turned "extra brown."

The demand for sweated, or brown, Javas probably had its origin in the good old days when the American housewife bought her coffee green and roasted it herself in a skillet over a quick fire. Coffee slightly brown was looked upon with favor; for every good housewife in those days knew that green coffee changed its color in aging, and that of course aged coffee was best.

And so it came about that Java coffees were preferably shipped in slow-going Dutch sailing vessels, because it was desirable to have a long voyage under the hot tropical sun suitably to sweat the coffee on its way to market and to have it a handsome brown on arrival. The sweating frequently produced a musty flavor which, if not too pronounced, was highly prized by experts. When the ship left Padang or Batavia the hatches were battened down, not to be opened again until New York harbor was reached.

Many of the old-style Dutch sailing vessels were built somewhat after the pattern of the Goed Vrouw, which Irving tells us was a hundred feet long, a hundred feet wide, and a hundred feet high. Sometimes she sailed forward, sometimes backward, and sometimes sideways. After dark, the lights were put out, all sail was taken in, and all hands turned in for the night.

The last of the coffee-carrying sailing vessels to reach the United States was the bark Padang, which arrived in New York on Christmas day, 1914.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

The First Coffee Newspaper Advertisement

The first newspaper advertisement for coffee appeared, May 26, 1657, in the Publick Adviser of London, one of the first weekly pamphlets. The name of this publication was erroneously given as the Publick Advertiser by an early writer on coffee, and the error has been copied by succeeding writers. The first newspaper advertisement was contained in the issue of the Publick Adviser for the week of May 19 to May 26, and read:

In Bartholomew Lane on the back side of the Old Exchange, the drink called Coffee, (which is a very wholsom and Physical drink, having many excellent vertues, closes the Orifice of the Stomack, fortifies the heat within, helpeth Digestion, quickneth the Spirits, maketh the heart lightsom, is good against Eye-sores, Coughs, or Colds, Rhumes, Consumptions, Head-ach, Dropsie, Gout, Scurvy, Kings Evil, and many others is to be sold both in the morning, and at three of the clock in the afternoon).

Chocolate was also advertised for sale in London this same year. The issue of the Publick Adviser for June 16, 1657, contained this announcement:

In Bishopgate Street, in Queen's Head Alley, at a Frenchman's house is an excellent West India drink called chocolate, to be sold, where you may have it ready at any time, and also unmade at reasonable rates.

Tea was first sold publicly at Garraway's (or Garway's) in 1657.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Coffee Maker: Penny Universities

All through the years remaining in the seventeenth century, and through most of the eighteenth century, the London coffee houses grew and prospered. As before stated, they were originally temperance institutions, very different from the taverns and ale houses. "Within the walls of the coffee house there was always much noise, much clatter, much bustle, but decency was never outraged."

At prices ranging from one to two pence per dish, the demand grew so great that coffee-house keepers were obliged to make the drink in pots holding eight or ten gallons.

The seventeenth-century coffee houses were sometimes referred to as the "penny universities"; because they were great schools of conversation, and the entrance fee was only a penny. Two pence was the usual price of a dish of coffee or tea, this charge also covering newspapers and lights. It was the custom for the frequenter to lay his penny on the bar, on entering or leaving. Admission to the exchange of sparkling wit and brilliant conversation was within the reach of all.

So great a Universitie
I think there ne're was any;
In which you may a Schoolar be
For spending of a Penny.

"Regular customers," we are told, "had particular seats and special attention from the fair lady at the bar, and the tea and coffee boys."

It is believed that the modern custom of tipping, and the word "tip," originated in the coffee houses, where frequently hung brass-bound boxes into which customers were expected to drop coins for the servants. The boxes were inscribed "To Insure Promptness" and from the initial letters of these words came "tip."

The National Review says, "before 1715 the number of coffee houses in London was reckoned at 2000." Dufour, who wrote in 1683, declares, upon information received from several persons who had staid in London, that there were 3000 of these places. However, 2000 is probably nearer the fact.

In that critical time in English history, when the people, tired of the misgovernment of the later Stuarts, were most in need of a forum where questions of great moment could be discussed, the coffee house became a sanctuary. Here matters of supreme political import were threshed out and decided for the good of Englishmen for all time. And because many of these questions were so well thought out then, there was no need to fight them out later. England's great struggle for political liberty was really fought and won in the coffee house.

To the end of the reign of Charles II, coffee was looked upon by the government rather as a new check upon license than an added luxury. After the revolution, the London coffee merchants were obliged to petition the House of Lords against new import duties, and it was not until the year 1692 that the government, "for the greater encouragement and advancement of trade and the greater importation of the said respective goods or merchandises," discharged one half of the obnoxious tariff.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Decaffinating Coffee

The demand for a caffeine-free coffee may be attributed to two causes, namely: the objectionable effect which caffeine has upon neurasthenics; and the questionable advertising of the "coffee-substitute" dealers, who have by this means persuaded many normal persons into believing that they are decidedly sub-normal. As a result of this demand, a variety of decaffeinated coffees have been placed on the market. Just why the coffee men have not taken advantage of naturally caffeine-free coffees, or of the possibility of obtaining coffees low in caffeine content by chemical selection from the lines now used, is a difficult question to answer.

In the endeavor to develop a commercial decaffeinated coffee the first method of procedure was to extract the caffeine from roasted coffee. This method had its advantages and its disadvantages, of which the latter predominated. The caffeine in the roasted coffee is not as tightly bound chemically as in the green coffee, and is, therefore, more easily extracted. Also, the structure of the roasted bean renders it more readily penetrable by solvents than does that of the green bean. However, the great objection to this method arises from the fact that at the same time as the caffeine is extracted, the volatile aromatic and flavoring constituents of the coffee are removed also. These substances, which are essential for the maintenance of quality by the coffee, though readily separated from the caffeine, can not be returned to the roasted bean with any degree of certainty. This virtually insurmountable obstacle forced the abandonment of this mode of attack.

In order to avoid this action, the attention of investigators was directed to extraction of the alkaloid in question from the green bean. Because of the difficulty of causing the solvent to penetrate the bean, recourse to grinding resulted. This greatly facilitated the desired extraction, but a difficulty was encountered when the subsequent roasting was attempted. The irregular and broken character of the ground green beans resisted all attempts to produce practically a uniformly roasted, highly aromatic product from the ground material.

Avoidance of this lack of uniformity in the product, and the great desirability to duplicate the normal bean as far as possible, necessitated the development of a method of extraction of the caffeine from the whole raw bean without a permanent alteration of the shape thereof. The close structure of the green bean, and its consequent resistance to penetration by solvents, and the existence of the caffeine in the bean as an acid salt, which is not easily soluble, offered resistance to successful extraction.

As a means of overcoming the difficulty of structure, the beans were allowed to stand in water in order to swell, or the cells were expanded by treatment with steam, or the beans were subjected to the action of some "cellulose-softening acids," such as acetic acid or sulphur dioxid. As a method of facilitating the mechanical side of extraction without deleterious effects, the treatment of the coffee with steam under pressure, as utilized in the patented process of Myer, Roselius, and Wimmer, is probably the safest.

Many ingenious methods have been devised for the ready removal of the caffeine from this point on. Several processes employ an alkali, such as ammonium hydroxid, to free the caffeine from the acid; or an acid, such as acetic, hydrochloric, or sulphurous, is used to form a more soluble salt of caffeine. Other procedures effect the dissociation of the caffeine-acid salt by dampening or immersion in a liquid and subjecting the mass to the action of an electric current.

The caffeine is usually extracted from the beans by benzol or chloroform, but a variety of solvents may be employed, such as petrolic ether, water, alcohol, carbon tetrachloride, ethylene chloride, acetone, ethyl ether, or mixtures or emulsions of these. After extraction, the beans may be steam distilled to remove and to recover any residual traces of solvent, and then dried and roasted. It is said[142] that by heating the beans before bringing them into contact with steam, not only is an economy of steam effected, but the quality of the resultant product is improved.

One clever but expensive method of preparing caffeine-free coffee consists in heating the beans under pressure, with some substance, such as sodium salicylate, with the resultant formation of a more soluble and more easily steam-distillable compound of caffeine. The beans are then steam distilled to remove the caffeine, dried, and roasted.

In the majority of these processes the flavor of the resultant product should be very similar to natural roasted coffee. However, in the cases where aqueous extraction is employed, other substances besides caffeine are removed that are replaced in the bean only with difficulty. The resultant product accordingly is very likely to have a flavor not entirely natural. On the other hand, beans from which the caffeine is extracted with volatile solvents, if the operation be conducted carefully, should give a natural-tasting roast. Any residual traces of the solvent left in the bean are volatilized upon roasting.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Coffee in Constantinople

The story of the introduction of coffee into Constantinople shows that it experienced much the same vicissitudes that marked its advent at Mecca and Cairo. There were the same disturbances, the same unreasoning religious superstition, the same political hatreds, the same stupid interference by the civil authorities; and yet, in spite of it all, coffee attained new honors and new fame. The Oriental coffee house reached its supreme development in Constantinople.

Although coffee had been known in Constantinople since 1517, it was not until 1554 that the inhabitants became acquainted with that great institution of early eastern democracy—the coffee house. In that year, under the reign of Soliman the Great, son of Selim I, one Schemsi of Damascus and one Hekem of Aleppo opened the first two coffee houses in the quarter called Taktacalah. They were wonderful institutions for those days, remarkable alike for their furnishings and their comforts, as well as for the opportunity they afforded for social intercourse and free discussion. Schemsi and Hekem received their guests on "very neat couches or sofas," and the admission was the price of a dish of coffee—about one cent.

Turks, high and low, took up the idea with avidity. Coffee houses increased in number. The demand outstripped the supply. In the seraglio itself special officers (kahvedjibachi) were commissioned to prepare the coffee drink for the sultan. Coffee was in favor with all classes.

The Turks gave to the coffee houses the name kahveh kanes (diversoria, Cotovicus called them); and as they grew in popularity, they became more and more luxurious. There were lounges, richly carpeted; and in addition to coffee, many other means of entertainment. To these "schools of the wise" came the "young men ready to enter upon offices of judicature; kadis from the provinces, seeking re-instatement or new appointments; muderys, or professors; officers of the seraglio; bashaws; and the principal lords of the port," not to mention merchants and travelers from all parts of the then known world.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Coffea Robusta

Coffea Robusta Emil Laurent, in 1898, discovered a species of coffee growing wild in Congo. This was taken up by a horticultural firm of Brussels, and cultivated for the market. This firm gave to the coffee the name Coffea robusta, although it had already been given the name of the discoverer, being known as Coffea Laurentii. The plant differs widely from both arabica and liberica, being considerably larger than either. The tree is umbrella-shaped, due to the fact that its branches are very long and bend toward the ground. The leaves of robusta are much thinner than those of liberica, though not as thin as those of arabica. The tree, as a whole, is a very hardy variety and even bears blossoms when it is less than a year old. It blossoms throughout the entire year, the flowers having six-parted corollas. The drupes are smaller than those of liberica; but are much thinner skinned, so that the coffee bean is actually not any smaller. The drupes mature in ten months. Although the plants bear as early as the first year, the yield for the first two years is of no account; but by the fourth year the crop is large.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

New York's First Coffee House

Hutchins Coffee House, New York Some chroniclers of New York's early days are confident that the first coffee house in America was opened in New York; but the earliest authenticated record they have presented is that on November 1, 1696, John Hutchins bought a lot on Broadway, between Trinity churchyard and what is now Cedar Street, and there built a house, naming it the King's Arms. Against this record, Boston can present the statement in Samuel Gardner Drake's History and Antiquities of the City of Boston that Benj. Harris sold books at the "London Coffee House" in 1689. This view shows the garden side of the historic old house as it was conducted by John Hutchins, near Trinity Church, on Broadway. The observatory may have been added later The King's Arms was built of wood, and had a front of yellow brick, said to have been brought from Holland. The building was two stories high, and on the roof was an "observatory," arranged with seats, and commanding a fine view of the bay, the river, and the city. Here the coffee-house visitors frequently sat in the afternoons. It is not shown in the illustration. It stood for many years on Broadway, opposite Bowling Green, in the old De Lancey House, becoming known in 1763 as the King's Arms, and later the Atlantic Garden House The sides of the main room on the lower floor were lined with booths, which, for the sake of greater privacy, were screened with green curtains. There a patron could sip his coffee, or a more stimulating drink, and look over his mail in the same exclusiveness affected by the Londoner of the time. The rooms on the second floor were used for special meetings of merchants, colonial magistrates and overseers, or similar public and private business. The meeting room, as above described, seems to have been one of the chief features distinguishing a coffee house from a tavern. Although both types of houses had rooms for guests, and served meals, the coffee house was used for business purposes by permanent customers, while the tavern was patronized more by transients. Men met at the coffee house daily to carry on business, and went to the tavern for convivial purposes or lodgings. Before the front door hung the sign of "the lion and the unicorn fighting for the crown." For many years the King's Arms was the only coffee house in the city; or at least no other seems of sufficient importance to have been mentioned in colonial records. For this reason it was more frequently designated as "the" coffee house than the King's Arms. Contemporary records of the arrest of John Hutchins of the King's Arms, and of Roger Baker, for speaking disrespectfully of King George, mention the King's Head, of which Baker was proprietor. But it is generally believed that this public house was a tavern and not rightfully to be considered as a coffee house. The White Lion, mentioned about 1700, was also a tavern, or inn.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

The First Coffee Persecution

At length the pious Mahommedans began to disapprove of the use of coffee among the people. For one thing, it made common one of the best psychology-adjuncts of their religion; also, the joy of life, that it helped to liberate among those who frequented the coffee houses, precipitated social, political, and religious arguments; and these frequently developed into disturbances. Dissensions arose even among the churchmen themselves. They divided into camps for and against coffee. The law of the Prophet on the subject of wine was variously construed as applying to coffee. About this time (1511) Kair Bey was governor of Mecca for the sultan of Egypt. He appears to have been a strict disciplinarian, but lamentably ignorant of the actual conditions obtaining among his people. As he was leaving the mosque one evening after prayers, he was offended by seeing in a corner a company of coffee drinkers who were preparing to pass the night in prayer. His first thought was that they were drinking wine; and great was his astonishment when he learned what the liquor really was and how common was its use throughout the city. Further investigation convinced him that indulgence in this exhilarating drink must incline men and women to extravagances prohibited by law, and so he determined to suppress it. First he drove the coffee drinkers out of the mosque. The next day, he called a council of officers of justice, lawyers, physicians, priests, and leading citizens, to whom he declared what he had seen the evening before at the mosque; and, "being resolved to put a stop to the coffee-house abuses, he sought their advice upon the subject." The chief count in the indictment was that "in these places men and women met and played tambourines, violins, and other musical instruments. There were also people who played chess, mankala, and other similar games, for money; and there were many other things done contrary to our sacred law—may God keep it from all corruption until the day when we shall all appear before him!" Two brothers, Persian physicians named Hakimani, and reputed the best in Mecca, were summoned, although we are told they knew more about logic than they did about physic. One of them came into the council fully prejudiced, as he had already written a book against coffee, and filled with concern for his profession, being fearful lest the common use of the new drink would make serious inroads on the practise of medicine. His brother joined with him in assuring the assembly that the plant bunn, from which coffee was made, was "cold and dry" and so unwholesome. When another physician present reminded them that Bengiazlah, the ancient and respected contemporary of Avicenna, taught that it was "hot and dry," they made arbitrary answer that Bengiazlah had in mind another plant of the same name, and that anyhow, it was not material; for, if the coffee drink disposed people to things forbidden by religion, the safest course for Mahommedans was to look upon it as unlawful. The friends of coffee were covered with confusion. Only the mufti spoke out in the meeting in its favor. Others, carried away by prejudice or misguided zeal, affirmed that coffee clouded their senses. One man arose and said it intoxicated like wine; which made every one laugh, since he could hardly have been a judge of this if he had not drunk wine, which is forbidden by the Mohammedan religion. Upon being asked whether he had ever drunk any, he was so imprudent as to admit that he had, thereby condemning himself out of his own mouth to the bastinado. The mufti of Aden, being both an officer of the court and a divine, undertook, with some heat, a defense of coffee; but he was clearly in an unpopular minority. He was rewarded with the reproaches and affronts of the religious zealots. So the governor had his way, and coffee was solemnly condemned as thing forbidden by the law; and a presentment was drawn up, signed by a majority of those present, and dispatched post-haste by the governor to his royal master, the sultan, at Cairo. At the same time, the governor published an edict forbidding the sale of coffee in public or private. The officers of justice caused all the coffee houses in Mecca to be shut, and ordered all the coffee found there, or in the merchants' warehouses, to be burned. Naturally enough, being an unpopular edict, there were many evasions, and much coffee drinking took place behind closed doors. Some of the friends of coffee were outspoken in their opposition to the order, being convinced that the assembly had rendered a judgment not in accordance with the facts, and above all, contrary to the opinion of the mufti who, in every Arab community, is looked up to as the interpreter, or expounder, of the law. One man, caught in the act of disobedience, besides being severely punished, was also led through the most public streets of the city seated on an ass. However, the triumph of the enemies of coffee was short-lived; for not only did the sultan of Cairo disapprove the "indiscreet zeal" of the governor of Mecca, and order the edict revoked; but he read him a severe lesson on the subject. How dared he condemn a thing approved at Cairo, the capital of his kingdom, where there were physicians whose opinions carried more weight than those of Mecca, and who had found nothing against the law in the use of coffee? The best things might be abused, added the sultan, even the sacred waters of Zamzam, but this was no reason for an absolute prohibition. The fountain, or well, of Zamzam, according to the Mohammedan teaching, is the same which God caused to spring up in the desert to comfort Hagar and Ishmael when Abraham banished them. It is in the enclosure of the temple at Mecca; and the Mohammedans drink of it with much show of devotion, ascribing great virtues to it.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

The Second London Coffee House

London Coffee HouseProbably the most celebrated coffee house in Penn's city was the one established by William Bradford, printer of the Pennsylvania Journal. It was on the southwest corner of Second and Market Streets, and was named the London coffee house, the second house in Philadelphia to bear that title. The building had stood since 1702, when Charles Reed, later mayor of the city, put it up on land which he bought from Letitia Penn, daughter of William Penn, the founder. Bradford was the first to use the structure for coffee-house purposes, and he tells his reason for entering upon the business in his petition to the governor for a license: "Having been advised to keep a Coffee House for the benefit of merchants and traders, and as some people may at times be desirous to be furnished with other liquors besides coffee, your petitioner apprehends it is necessary to have the Governor's license." This would indicate that in that day coffee was drunk as a refreshment between meals, as were spirituous liquors for so many years before, and thereafter up to 1920.

The London coffee house was "the pulsating heart of excitement, enterprise, and patriotism" of the early city. The most active citizens congregated there—merchants, shipmasters, travelers from other colonies and countries, crown and provincial officers. The governor and persons of equal note went there at certain hours "to sip their coffee from the hissing urn, and some of those stately visitors had their own stalls." It had also the character of a mercantile exchange—carriages, horses, foodstuffs, and the like being sold there at auction. It is further related that the early slave-holding Philadelphians sold negro men, women, and children at vendue, exhibiting the slaves on a platform set up in the street before the coffee house.

The resort was the barometer of public sentiment. It was in the street before this house that a newspaper published in Barbados, bearing a stamp in accordance with the provisions of the stamp act, was publicly burned in 1765, amid the cheers of bystanders. It was here that Captain Wise of the brig Minerva, from Pool, England, who brought news of the repeal of the act, was enthusiastically greeted by the crowd in May, 1766. Here, too, for several years the fishermen set up May poles.

Bradford gave up the lease in 1780, transferring the property to John Pemberton, who leased it to Gifford Dally. Pemberton was a Friend, and his scruples about gambling and other sins are well exhibited in the terms of the lease in which said Dally "covenants and agrees and promises that he will exert his endeavors as a Christian to preserve decency and order in said house, and to discourage the profanation of the sacred name of God Almighty by cursing, swearing, etc., and that the house on the first day of the week shall always be kept closed from public use." It is further covenanted that "under a penalty of £100 he will not allow or suffer any person to use, or play at, or divert themselves with cards, dice, backgammon, or any other unlawful game."

Monday, June 29, 2009

The First "Coffee King"

Benjamin Green Arnold came to New York from Rhode Island in 1836 and took a job as accountant with an east-side grocer. He was thrifty, industrious, and kept his own counsel. He was a born financial leader. Fifteen years later he was made a junior partner in the firm. By 1868, the bookkeeper of 1836 was the head of the business, with a line of credit amounting to half a million dollars—a notable achievement in those days.

Mr. Arnold embarked upon his big speculation in coffee in 1869. For ten years he maintained his mastery of the market, and in that time amassed a fortune. It is related that one year's operations of this daring trader yielded his firm a profit of a million and a quarter of dollars.

B.G. Arnold was the first president of the New York Coffee Exchange. He was one of the founders of the Down Town Association in 1878. The president of the United States was his friend, and a guest at his luxurious home. But the high-price levels to which Arnold had forced the coffee market started a coffee-planting fever in the countries of production. Almost before he knew it, there was an overproduction that swamped the market and forced down prices with so amazing rapidity that panic seized upon the traders. Few that were caught in that memorable coffee maelstrom survived financially.

Arnold himself was a victim, but such was the man's character that his failure was regarded by many as a public misfortune. Some men differed with him as to the wisdom of promoting a coffee corner, and protested that it was against public policy; but Arnold's personal integrity was never questioned, and his mercantile ability and honorable business dealings won for him an affectionate regard that continued after his fortune had been swept away.

After the collapse of the coffee corner, Mr. Arnold resumed business with his son, F.B. Arnold. He died in New York, December 10, 1894, in his eighty-second year. The son died in Rome in 1906. The business which the father founded, however, continues today as Arnold, Dorr & Co., one of the most honored and respected names in Front Street.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Chart of the World's Leading Coffees, 1922

The World's Leading Growths, with Market Names and General Trade Characteristics
Grand Division Country Principal Shipping
Best Known
Market Names
Trade Characteristics
North America Mexico Vera Cruz Coatepec
Greenish to yellow
bean; mild flavor.
Central America Guatemala Puerto Barrios Cobán
Waxy, bluish bean;
mellow flavor.
Salvador La Libertad Santa Ana
Santa Tecla
Smooth, green bean;
neutral flavor.
Costa Rica Puerto Limon Costa Ricas Blue-greenish bean;
mild flavor.
West Indies Haiti Cape Haitien Haiti Blue bean; rich, fairly
acid; sweet flavor.
Santo Domingo Santo Domingo Santo Domingo Flat, greenish-yellow
bean; strong flavor.
Jamaica Kingston Blue Mountain Bluish-green bean;
rich, full flavor.
Porto Rico Ponce Porto Ricans Gray-blue bean;
strong, heavy flavor.
South America Colombia Savanilla Medellin
Manizales, Bogota
Greenish-yellow bean;
rich, mellow flavor.
Venezuela La Guaira
Greenish-yellow bean;
mild, mellow flavor.
Brazil Santos Santos Small bean; mild flavor.
Rio de Janeiro Rio Large bean; strong cup.
Asia Arabia Aden Mocha Small, short, green
to yellow bean;
unique, mild flavor.
India Madras
Coorg (Kurg)
Small to large,
blue-green bean;
strong flavor.
East India Islands Malay States Penang (Geo't'n)
Liberian, Robusta
Liberian and Robusta
growths from Malaysia.
Sumatra Padang Mandheling
Ayer Bangies
Large, yellow to
brown bean; heavy
body; exquisite flavor.
Java Batavia Preanger
Cheribon, Kroe
Small, blue to yellow
bean; light in cup.
Celebes Menado
Minahassa Large, yellow bean;
aromatic cup.
Africa Abyssinia Jibuti Harar
Large, blue to yellow
bean; very like Mocha.
Pacific Islands Hawaiian
Honolulu Kona
Large, blue, flinty
bean; mildly acid.
Philippines Manila Manila Yellow and brown large
bean; mild cup.

Friday, June 12, 2009

How Coffee Came to Vienna

Coffee HistoryA romantic tale has been woven around the introduction of coffee into Austria. When Vienna was besieged by the Turks in 1683, so runs the legend, Franz George Kolschitzky, a native of Poland, formerly an interpreter in the Turkish army, saved the city and won for himself undying fame, with coffee as his principal reward.

It is not known whether, in the first siege of Vienna by the Turks in 1529, the invaders boiled coffee over their camp fires that surrounded the Austrian capital; although they might have done so, as Selim I, after conquering Egypt in 1517, had brought with him to Constantinople large stores of coffee as part of his booty. But it is certain that when they returned to the attack, 154 years later, they carried with them a plentiful supply of the green beans.

Mohammed IV mobilized an army of 300,000 men and sent it forth under his vizier, Kara Mustapha, (Kuprili's successor) to destroy Christendom and to conquer Europe. Reaching Vienna July 7, 1683, the army quickly invested the city and cut it off from the world. Emperor Leopold had escaped the net and was several miles away. Nearby was the prince of Lorraine, with an army of 33,000 Austrians, awaiting the succor promised by John Sobieski, king of Poland, and an opportunity to relieve the besieged capital. Count Rudiger von Starhemberg, in command of the forces in Vienna, called for a volunteer to carry a message through the Turkish lines to hurry along the rescue. He found him in the person of Franz George Kolschitzky, who had lived for many years among the Turks and knew their language and customs.

On August 13, 1683, Kolschitzky donned a Turkish uniform, passed through the enemy's lines and reached the Emperor's army across the Danube. Several times he made the perilous journey between the camp of the prince of Lorraine and the garrison of the governor of Vienna. One account says that he had to swim the four intervening arms of the Danube each time he performed the feat. His messages did much to keep up the morale of the city's defenders. At length King John and his army of rescuing Poles arrived and were consolidated with the Austrians on the summit of Mount Kahlenberg. It was one of the most dramatic moments in history. The fate of Christian Europe hung in the balance. Everything seemed to point to the triumph of the crescent over the cross. Once again Kolschitzky crossed the Danube, and brought back word concerning the signals that the prince of Lorraine and King John would give from Mount Kahlenberg to indicate the beginning of the attack. Count Starhemberg was to make a sortie at the same time.

The battle took place September 12, and thanks to the magnificent generalship of King John, the Turks were routed. The Poles here rendered a never-to-be-forgotten service to all Christendom. The Turkish invaders fled, leaving 25,000 tents, 10,000 oxen, 5,000 camels, 100,000 bushels of grain, a great quantity of gold, and many sacks filled with coffee—at that time unknown in Vienna. The booty was distributed; but no one wanted the coffee. They did not know what to do with it; that is, no one except Kolschitzky. He said, "If nobody wants those sacks, I will take them", and every one was heartily glad to be rid of the strange beans. But Kolschitzky knew what he was about, and he soon taught the Viennese the art of preparing coffee. Later, he established the first public booth where Turkish coffee was served in Vienna.

This, then, is the story of how coffee was introduced into Vienna, where was developed that typical Vienna café which has become a model for a large part of the world. Kolschitzky is honored in Vienna as the patron saint of coffee houses. His followers, united in the guild of coffee makers (kaffee-sieder), even erected a statue in his honor. It still stands as part of the facade of a house where the Kolschitzygasse merges into the Favoritengasse, as shown in the accompanying picture.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

A Vintage Recipe for Drip Coffee

Two things are essential—an absolutely clean urn, and sound coffee, freshly parched, and ground neither too fine nor too coarse. The water must be freshly boiled. Put a cup of ground coffee in the strainer, pour upon it about two tablespoonfuls of boiling water, let it stand until the water drips through and there is no more bubbling, then pour on more water, but not too much, let it drip, keeping both the strainer and the spout covered to prevent the loss of aroma. Repeat until you have used almost five cups of water—this for four cups of strained coffee, as the grounds hold part of the water. Keep the pot hot while the dripping goes on, but never where the coffee will boil. If it dyes the cups it is too strong, but beware of making too weak. From "Dishes & Beverages of the Old South", by Martha McCulloch Williams, 1913

Thursday, May 21, 2009

History of Coffee in Holland

The Dutch had early knowledge of coffee because of their dealings with the Orient and with the Venetians, and of their nearness to Germany, where Rauwolf first wrote about it in 1582. They were familiar with Alpini's writings on the subject in 1592. Paludanus, in his coffee note on Linschoten's Travels, furnished further enlightenment in 1598. The Dutch were always great merchants and shrewd traders. Being of a practical turn of mind, they conceived an ambition to grow coffee in their colonial possessions, so as to make their home markets headquarters for a world's trade in the product. In considering modern coffee-trading, the Netherlands East India Company may be said to be the pioneer, as it established in Java one of the first experimental gardens for coffee cultivation. The Netherlands East India Company was formed in 1602. As early as 1614, Dutch traders visited Aden to examine into the possibilities of coffee and coffee-trading. In 1616 Pieter Van dan Broeck brought the first coffee from Mocha to Holland. In 1640 a Dutch merchant, named Wurffbain, offered for sale in Amsterdam the first commercial shipment of coffee from Mocha. As indicating the enterprise of the Dutch, note that this was four years before the beverage was introduced into France, and only three years after Conopios had privately instituted the breakfast coffee cup at Oxford. When the Dutch at last drove the Portuguese out of Ceylon in 1658, they began the cultivation of coffee there, although the plant had been introduced into the island by the Arabs prior to the Portuguese invasion in 1505. However, it was not until 1690 that the more systematic cultivation of the coffee plant by the Dutch was undertaken in Ceylon. Regular imports of coffee from Mocha to Amsterdam began in 1663. Later, supplies began to arrive from the Malabar coast. Pasqua Rosée, who introduced the coffee house into London in 1652, is said to have made coffee popular as a beverage in Holland by selling it there publicly in 1664. The first coffee house was opened in the Korten Voorhout, the Hague, under the protection of the writer Van Essen; others soon followed in Amsterdam and Haarlem. At the instigation of Nicolaas Witsen, burgomaster of Amsterdam and governor of the East India Company, Adrian Van Ommen, commander of Malabar, sent the first Arabian coffee seedlings to Java in 1696, recorded in the chapter on the history of coffee propagation. These were destroyed by flood, but were followed in 1699 by a second shipment, from which developed the coffee trade of the Netherlands East Indies, that made Java coffee a household word in every civilized country. A trial shipment of the coffee grown near Batavia was received at Amsterdam in 1706, also a plant for the botanical gardens. This plant subsequently became the progenitor of most of the coffees of the West Indies and America. The first Java coffee for the trade was received at Amsterdam 1711. The shipment consisted of 894 pounds from the Jakatra plantations and from the interior of the island. At the first public auction, this coffee brought twenty-three and two-thirds stuivers (about forty-seven cents) per Amsterdam pound. Holland readily adopted the coffee house; and among the earliest coffee pictures preserved to us is one depicting a scene in a Dutch coffee house of the seventeenth century, the work of Adriaen Van Ostade (1610–1675). History records no intolerance of coffee in Holland. The Dutch attitude was ever that of the constructionist. Dutch inventors and artisans gave us many new designs in coffee mortars, coffee roasters, and coffee serving-pots.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Early Coffee Manners and Customs

Karstens Niebuhr(1733–1815), the Hanoverian traveler, furnishes the following description of the early Arabian, Syrian, and Egyptian coffee houses: They are commonly large halls, having their floors spread with mats, and illuminated at night by a multitude of lamps. Being the only theaters for the exercise of profane eloquence, poor scholars attend here to amuse the people. Select portions are read, e.g. the adventures of Rustan Sal, a Persian hero. Some aspire to the praise of invention, and compose tales and fables. They walk up and down as they recite, or assuming oratorial consequence, harangue upon subjects chosen by themselves. In one coffee house at Damascus an orator was regularly hired to tell his stories at a fixed hour; in other cases he was more directly dependant upon the taste of his hearers, as at the conclusion of his discourse, whether it had consisted of literary topics or of loose and idle tales, he looked to the audience for a voluntary contribution. At Aleppo, again, there was a man with a soul above the common, who, being a person of distinction, and one that studied merely for his own pleasure, had yet gone the round of all the coffee houses in the city to pronounce moral harangues. In some coffee houses there were singers and dancers, as before, and many came to listen to the marvelous tales, of the Thousand and One Nights. In Oriental countries it was once the custom to offer a cup of "bad coffee," i.e., coffee containing poison, to those functionaries or other persons who had proven themselves embarrassing to the authorities. While coffee drinking started as a private religious function, it was not long after its introduction by the coffee houses that it became secularized still more in the homes of the people, although for centuries it retained a certain religious significance. Galland says that in Constantinople, at the time of his visit to the city, there was no house, rich or poor, Turk or Jew, Greek or Armenian, where it was not drunk at least twice a day, and many drank it oftener, for it became a custom in every house to offer it to all visitors; and it was considered an incivility to refuse it. Twenty dishes a day, per person, was not an uncommon average. Galland observes that "as much money must be spent in the private families of Constantinople for coffee as for wine at Paris," and relates that it is as common for beggars to ask for money to buy coffee, as it is in Europe to ask for money to buy wine or beer.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

The Introduction of Coffee into Europe

Of the world's three great temperance beverages, cocoa, tea, and coffee, cocoa was the first to be introduced into Europe, in 1528, by the Spanish. It was nearly a century later, in 1610, that the Dutch brought tea to Europe. Venetian traders introduced coffee into Europe in 1615. Europe's first knowledge of coffee was brought by travelers returning from the Far East and the Levant. Leonhard Rauwolf started on his famous journey into the Eastern countries from Marseilles in September, 1573, having left his home in Augsburg, the 18th of the preceding May. He reached Aleppo in November, 1573; and returned to Augsburg, February 12, 1576. He was the first European to mention coffee; and to him also belongs the honor of being the first to refer to the beverage in print. Rauwolf was not only a doctor of medicine and a botanist of great renown, but also official physician to the town of Augsburg. When he spoke, it was as one having authority. The first printed reference to coffee appears as chaube in chapter viii of Rauwolf's Travels, which deals with the manners and customs of the city of Aleppo. The exact passage is reproduced herewith as it appears in the original German edition of Rauwolf published at Frankfort and Lauingen in 1582–83. The translation is as follows: If you have a mind to eat something or to drink other liquors, there is commonly an open shop near it, where you sit down upon the ground or carpets and drink together. Among the rest they have a very good drink, by them called Chaube [coffee] that is almost as black as ink, and very good in illness, chiefly that of the stomach; of this they drink in the morning early in open places before everybody, without any fear or regard, out of China cups, as hot as they can; they put it often to their lips but drink but little at a time, and let it go round as they sit. In this same water they take a fruit called Bunnu which in its bigness, shape and color is almost like unto a bayberry, with two thin shells surrounded, which, as they informed me, are brought from the Indies; but as these in themselves are, and have within them, two yellowish grains in two distinct cells, and besides, being they agree in their virtue, figure, looks, and name with the Bunchum of Avicenna, and Bunca, of Rasis ad Almans exactly; therefore I take them to be the same, until I am better informed by the learned. This liquor is very common among them, wherefore there are a great many of them that sell it, and others that sell the berries, everywhere in their Batzars.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Coffee Baptized by the Pope

Shortly after coffee reached Rome, according to a much quoted legend, it was again threatened with religious fanaticism, which almost caused its excommunication from Christendom. It is related that certain priests appealed to Pope Clement VIII (1535–1605) to have its use forbidden among Christians, denouncing it as an invention of Satan. They claimed that the Evil One, having forbidden his followers, the infidel Moslems, the use of wine—no doubt because it was sanctified by Christ and used in the Holy Communion—had given them as a substitute this hellish black brew of his which they called coffee. For Christians to drink it was to risk falling into a trap set by Satan for their souls. It is further related that the pope, made curious, desired to inspect this Devil's drink, and had some brought to him. The aroma of it was so pleasant and inviting that the pope was tempted to try a cupful. After drinking it, he exclaimed, "Why, this Satan's drink is so delicious that it would be a pity to let the infidels have exclusive use of it. We shall fool Satan by baptizing it, and making it a truly Christian beverage."

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Coffee Maker: New England's First Coffee House

The name coffee house did not come into use in New England until late in the seventeenth century. Early colonial records do not make it clear whether the London coffee house or the Gutteridge coffee house was the first to be opened in Boston with that distinctive title. In all likelihood the London is entitled to the honor, for Samuel Gardner Drake in his History and Antiquities of the City of Boston, published in 1854, says that "Benj. Harris sold books there in 1689." Drake seems to be the only historian of early Boston to mention the London coffee house. Granting that the London coffee house was the first in Boston, then the Gutteridge coffee house was the second. The latter stood on the north side of State Street, between Exchange and Washington Streets, and was named after Robert Gutteridge, who took out an innkeeper's license in 1691. Twenty-seven years later, his widow, Mary Gutteridge, petitioned the town for a renewal of her late husband's permit to keep a public coffee house. The British coffee house, which became the American coffee house when the crown officers and all things British became obnoxious to the colonists, also began its career about the time Gutteridge took out his license. It stood on the site that is now 66 State Street, and became one of the most widely known coffee houses in colonial New England. Of course, there were several inns and taverns in existence in Boston long before coffee and coffee houses came to the New England metropolis. Some of these taverns took up coffee when it became fashionable in the colony, and served it to those patrons who did not care for the stronger drinks. One of the first in New England to bear the distinctive name of coffee house; opened in 1711 and burned down in 1780 The earliest known inn was set up by Samuel Cole in Washington Street, midway between Faneuil Hall and State Street. Cole was licensed as a "comfit maker" in 1634, four years after the founding of Boston; and two years later, his inn was the temporary abiding place of the Indian chief Miantonomoh and his red warriors, who came to visit Governor Vane. In the following year, the Earl of Marlborough found that Cole's inn was so "exceedingly well governed," and afforded so desirable privacy, that he refused the hospitality of Governor Winthrop at the governor's mansion.

Brazilian Santos Coffee

Santos coffees, considered as a whole, have the distinction of being the best grown in Brazil. Rios rank next, Victorias coming third in favor, and Bahias fourth. Of the Santos growths the best is that known in the trade as Bourbon, produced by trees grown from Mocha seed (Coffea arabica) brought originally from the French island colony of Bourbon (now Réunion) in the Indian Ocean. The true Bourbon is obtained from the first few crops of Mocha seed. After the third or fourth year of bearing, the fruit gradually changes in form, yielding in the sixth year the flat-shaped beans which are sold under the trade name of Flat Bean Santos. By that time, the coffee has lost most of its Bourbon characteristics. The true Bourbon of the first and second crops is a small bean, and resembles the Mocha, but makes a much handsomer roast with fewer "quakers". The Bourbons grown in the Campinas district often have a red center. As regards flavor, a good Bourbon Santos is considered the best coffee for its price, and is the most satisfactory low-cost blending coffee to be obtained. It is used with practically any of the high-priced coffees to reduce the cost of the blend. When properly made, this coffee produces a drink that is smooth and palatable, without tang or special character, and is suitable to the average taste. When aged, Bourbon Santos decreases in acidity, and increases somewhat in size of bean. The Santos coffee described as Flat Bean usually has a smooth surface, varying in size from small to large bean, and in color from a pale yellow to a pale green. The cup has a good and smooth body of neutral character, and the bean can be used straight or in a blend with practically any Mild coffee. Another Santos growth, known in the trade as Harsh Santos, grows near the boundary between São Paulo and Minãs Geraes. It often has some of the Rio characteristics, and commands a lower price than other Santos coffees. Some trade authorities are of the opinion that Santos coffees are an exception to the rule that most green coffees improve with age. They argue that careful cup-testing will reveal that a new crop Santos is to be preferred to an old crop.

Coffea Liberica

The bean of Coffea arabica, although the principal bean used in commerce, is not the only one; and it may not be out of place here to describe briefly some of the other varieties that are produced commercially. Coffea liberica is one of these plants. The quality of the beverage made from its berries is inferior to that of Coffea arabica, but the plant itself offers distinct advantages in its hardy growing qualities. This makes it attractive for hybridization.

The Coffea liberica tree is much larger and sturdier than the Coffea arabica, and in its native haunts it reaches a height of 30 feet. It will grow in a much more torrid climate and can stand exposure to strong sunlight. The leaves are about twice as long as those of arabica, being six to twelve inches in length, and are very thick, tough, and leathery. The apex of the leaf is acute. The flowers are larger than those of arabica, and are borne in dense clusters. At any time during the season, the same tree may bear flowers, white or pinkish, and fragrant, or even green, together with fruits, some green, some ripe and of a brilliant red. The corolla has been known to have seven segments, though as a rule it has five. The fruits are large, round, and dull red; the pulps are not juicy, and are somewhat bitter. Unlike Coffea arabica, the ripened drupes do not fall from the trees, and so the picking can be delayed at the planter's convenience.

Coffea Arabica

Coffea arabica is a shrub with evergreen leaves, and reaches a height of fourteen to twenty feet when fully grown. The shrub produces dimorphic branches, i.e., branches of two forms, known as uprights and laterals. When young, the plants have a main stem, the upright, which, however, eventually sends out side shoots, the laterals. The laterals may send out other laterals, known as secondary laterals; but no lateral can ever produce an upright. The laterals are produced in pairs and are opposite, the pairs being borne in whorls around the stem. The laterals are produced only while the joint of the upright, to which they are attached, is young; and if they are broken off at that point, the upright has no power to reproduce them. The upright can produce new uprights also; but if an upright is cut off, the laterals at that position tend to thicken up. This is very desirable, as the laterals produce the flowers, which seldom appear on the uprights. This fact is utilized in pruning the coffee tree, the uprights being cut back, the laterals then becoming more productive. Planters generally keep their trees pruned down to about six feet. The leaves are lanceolate, or lance-shaped, being borne in pairs opposite each other. They are three to six inches in length, with an acuminate apex, somewhat attenuate at the base, with very short petioles which are united with the short interpetiolar stipules at the base. The coffee leaves are thin, but of firm texture, slightly coriaceous. They are very dark green on the upper surface, but much lighter underneath. The margin of the leaf is entire and wavy. In some tropical countries the natives brew a coffee tea from the leaves of the coffee tree. The coffee flowers are small, white, and very fragrant, having a delicate characteristic odor. They are borne in the axils of the leaves in clusters, and several crops are produced in one season, depending on the conditions of heat and moisture that prevail in the particular season. The different blossomings are classed as main blossoming and smaller blossomings. In semi-dry high districts, as in Costa Rica or Guatemala, there is one blossoming season, about March, and flowers and fruit are not found together, as a rule, on the trees. But in lowland plantations where rain is perennial, blooming and fruiting continue practically all the year; and ripe fruits, green fruits, open flowers, and flower buds are to be found at the same time on the same branchlet, not mixed together, but in the order indicated.

Coffee in Constantinople

The story of the introduction of coffee into Constantinople shows that it experienced much the same vicissitudes that marked its advent at Mecca and Cairo. There were the same disturbances, the same unreasoning religious superstition, the same political hatreds, the same stupid interference by the civil authorities; and yet, in spite of it all, coffee attained new honors and new fame. The Oriental coffee house reached its supreme development in Constantinople. Although coffee had been known in Constantinople since 1517, it was not until 1554 that the inhabitants became acquainted with that great institution of early eastern democracy—the coffee house. In that year, under the reign of Soliman the Great, son of Selim I, one Schemsi of Damascus and one Hekem of Aleppo opened the first two coffee houses in the quarter called Taktacalah. They were wonderful institutions for those days, remarkable alike for their furnishings and their comforts, as well as for the opportunity they afforded for social intercourse and free discussion. Schemsi and Hekem received their guests on "very neat couches or sofas," and the admission was the price of a dish of coffee—about one cent. Turks, high and low, took up the idea with avidity. Coffee houses increased in number. The demand outstripped the supply. In the seraglio itself special officers (kahvedjibachi) were commissioned to prepare the coffee drink for the sultan. Coffee was in favor with all classes. The Turks gave to the coffee houses the name kahveh kanes (diversoria, Cotovicus called them); and as they grew in popularity, they became more and more luxurious. There were lounges, richly carpeted; and in addition to coffee, many other means of entertainment. To these "schools of the wise" came the "young men ready to enter upon offices of judicature; kadis from the provinces, seeking re-instatement or new appointments; muderys, or professors; officers of the seraglio; bashaws; and the principal lords of the port," not to mention merchants and travelers from all parts of the then known world.

Some Early Legends

There are several Mohammedan traditions that have persisted through the centuries, claiming for "the faithful" the honor and glory of the first use of coffee as a beverage. One of these relates how, about 1258 A.D., Sheik Omar, a disciple of Sheik Abou'l hasan Schadheli, patron saint and legendary founder of Mocha, by chance discovered the coffee drink at Ousab in Arabia, whither he had been exiled for a certain moral remissness. Facing starvation, he and his followers were forced to feed upon the berries growing around them. And then, in the words of the faithful Arab chronicle in the Bibliothéque Nationale at Paris, "having nothing to eat except coffee, they took of it and boiled it in a saucepan and drank of the decoction." Former patients in Mocha who sought out the good doctor-priest in his Ousab retreat, for physic with which to cure their ills, were given some of this decoction, with beneficial effect. As a result of the stories of its magical properties, carried back to the city, Sheik Omar was invited to return in triumph to Mocha where the governor caused to be built a monastery for him and his companions. Another version of this Oriental legend gives it as follows: The dervish Hadji Omar was driven by his enemies out of Mocha into the desert, where they expected he would die of starvation. This undoubtedly would have occurred if he had not plucked up courage to taste some strange berries which he found growing on a shrub. While they seemed to be edible, they were very bitter; and he tried to improve the taste by roasting them. He found, however, that they had become very hard, so he attempted to soften them with water. The berries seemed to remain as hard as before, but the liquid turned brown, and Omar drank it on the chance that it contained some of the nourishment from the berries. He was amazed at how it refreshed him, enlivened his sluggishness, and raised his drooping spirits. Later, when he returned to Mocha, his salvation was considered a miracle. The beverage to which it was due sprang into high favor, and Omar himself was made a saint.

Homer, the Bible, and Coffee

In early Grecian and Roman writings no mention is made of either the coffee plant or the beverage made from the berries. Pierre (Pietro) Delia Valle (1586–1652), however, maintains that the nepenthe, which Homer says Helen brought with her out of Egypt, and which she employed as surcease for sorrow, was nothing else but coffee mixed with wine. This is disputed by M. Petit, a well known physician of Paris, who died in 1687. Several later British authors, among them, Sandys, the poet; Burton; and Sir Henry Blount, have suggested the probability of coffee being the "black broth" of the Lacedæmonians. George Paschius, in his Latin treatise of the New Discoveries Made since the Time of the Ancients, printed at Leipsic in 1700, says he believes that coffee was meant by the five measures of parched corn included among the presents Abigail made to David to appease his wrath, as recorded in the Bible, 1 Samuel, xxv, 18. The Vulgate translates the Hebrew words sein kali into sata polentea, which signify wheat, roasted, or dried by fire. Pierre Étienne Louis Dumant, the Swiss Protestant minister and author, is of the opinion that coffee (and not lentils, as others have supposed) was the red pottage for which Esau sold his birthright; also that the parched grain that Boaz ordered to be given Ruth was undoubtedly roasted coffee berries. Dufour mentions as a possible objection against coffee that "the use and eating of beans were heretofore forbidden by Pythagoras," but intimates that the coffee bean of Arabia is something different. Scheuzer, in his Physique Sacrée, says "the Turks and the Arabs make with the coffee bean a beverage which bears the same name, and many persons use as a substitute the flour of roasted barley." From this we learn that the coffee substitute is almost as old as coffee itself.

Early Cultivation by the Dutch

In the latter part of the 16th century, German, Italian, and Dutch botanists and travelers brought back from the Levant considerable information regarding the new plant and the beverage. In 1614 enterprising Dutch traders began to examine into the possibilities of coffee cultivation and coffee trading. In 1616 a coffee plant was successfully transported from Mocha to Holland. In 1658 the Dutch started the cultivation of coffee in Ceylon, although the Arabs are said to have brought the plant to the island prior to 1505. In 1670 an attempt was made to cultivate coffee on European soil at Dijon, France, but the result was a failure. In 1696, at the instigation of Nicolaas Witsen, then burgomaster of Amsterdam, Adrian Van Ommen, commander at Malabar, India, caused to be shipped from Kananur, Malabar, to Java, the first coffee plants introduced into that island. They were grown from seed of the Coffea arabica brought to Malabar from Arabia. They were planted by Governor-General Willem Van Outshoorn on the Kedawoeng estate near Batavia, but were subsequently lost by earthquake and flood. In 1699 Henricus Zwaardecroon imported some slips, or cuttings, of coffee trees from Malabar into Java. These were more successful, and became the progenitors of all the coffees of the Dutch East Indies. The Dutch were then taking the lead in the propagation of the coffee plant. In 1706 the first samples of Java coffee, and a coffee plant grown in Java, were received at the Amsterdam botanical gardens. Many plants were afterward propagated from the seeds produced in the Amsterdam gardens, and these were distributed to some of the best known botanical gardens and private conservatories in Europe.

History of the Word "Coffee"

The history of the word "coffee" involves several phonetic difficulties. The European languages got the name of the beverage about 1600 from the original Arabic qahwah qahwah, not directly, but through its Turkish form, kahveh. This was the name, not of the plant, but the beverage made from its infusion, being originally one of the names employed for wine in Arabic. Sir James Murray, in the New English Dictionary, says that some have conjectured that the word is a foreign, perhaps African, word disguised, and have thought it connected with the name Kaffa, a town in Shoa, southwest Abyssinia, reputed native place of the coffee plant, but that of this there is no evidence, and the name qahwah is not given to the berry or plant, which is called bunn bunn, the native name in Shoa being būn. Contributing to a symposium on the etymology of the word coffee in Notes and Queries, 1909, James Platt, Jr., said: "The Turkish form might have been written kahvé, as its final h was never sounded at any time. Sir James Murray draws attention to the existence of two European types, one like the French café, Italian caffè, the other like the English coffee, Dutch koffie. He explains the vowel o in the second series as apparently representing au, from Turkish ahv. This seems unsupported by evidence, and the v is already represented by the ff, so on Sir James's assumption coffee must stand for kahv-ve, which is unlikely. The change from a to o, in my opinion, is better accounted for as an imperfect appreciation. The exact sound of ă in Arabic and other Oriental languages is that of the English short u, as in "cuff." This sound, so easy to us, is a great stumbling-block to other nations. I judge that Dutch koffie and kindred forms are imperfect attempts at the notation of a vowel which the writers could not grasp. It is clear that the French type is more correct. The Germans have corrected their koffee, which they may have got from the Dutch, into kaffee. The Scandinavian languages have adopted the French form. Many must wonder how the hv of the original so persistently becomes ff in the European equivalents. Sir James Murray makes no attempt to solve this problem.

The Origins of Coffee

Careful research discloses that most authorities agree that the coffee plant is indigenous to Abyssinia, and probably Arabia, whence its cultivation spread throughout the tropics. The first reliable mention of the properties and uses of the plant is by an Arabian physician toward the close of the ninth century A.D., and it is reasonable to suppose that before that time the plant was found growing wild in Abyssinia and perhaps in Arabia. If it be true, as Ludolphus writes, that the Abyssinians came out of Arabia into Ethiopia in the early ages, it is possible that they may have brought the coffee tree with them; but the Arabians must still be given the credit for discovering and promoting the use of the beverage, and also for promoting the propagation of the plant, even if they found it in Abyssinia and brought it to Yemen. Some authorities believe that the first cultivation of coffee in Yemen dates back to 575 A.D., when the Persian invasion put an end to the Ethiopian rule of the negus Caleb, who conquered the country in 525. Certainly the discovery of the beverage resulted in the cultivation of the plant in Abyssinia and in Arabia; but its progress was slow until the 15th and 16th centuries, when it appears as intensively carried on in the Yemen district of Arabia. The Arabians were jealous of their new found and lucrative industry, and for a time successfully prevented its spread to other countries by not permitting any of the precious berries to leave the country unless they had first been steeped in boiling water or parched, so as to destroy their powers of germination. It may be that many of the early failures successfully to introduce the cultivation of the coffee plant into other lands was also due to the fact, discovered later, that the seeds soon lose their germinating power.