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.