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.

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