The History of Coffee Part 2

As coffee drinking grew in Arabia and Turkey many voyagers and traders tasted the brew and naturally they carried news of this back to their home land.  Word reached Europe about the delicious new drink.  The first consignment of coffee arrived in Venice in 1615 from Turkey.  The drink soon reached Rome where once again it was condemned by the clergy as the drink of the devil.  Feelings about it ran so high that Pope Clement VIII asked for a sample of the brew hoping to resolve the matter.  One sip revealed how delightful coffee was and he realized how foolish it would be to banish it from the Christian world forever.  So he immediately blessed it and with the Popes approval, the growth of coffee drinking in Italy was assured and it was not long before the first European coffee houses were opened.

The first recorded reference to coffee in England was in 1637 when a coffee house was opened in Oxford by a Jewish entrepreneur from Turkey called Jacob.  Soon after, a coffee house was opened in St Michael’s Alley, Cornhill, London by Pasqua Rosee, believed to have been a Greek or Armenian immigrant.  Gradually coffee houses were to be found all over Great Britain.

coffee historyUntil the late 17th century almost all coffee came from Arabia.  The Arabs attempt to maintain their fierce control over coffee supplies soon became impossible to control.  They tried to control this by roasting all seeds before leaving the country.  This measure theoretically ensured that no seeds with germinating qualities would escape.  And it was absolutely forbidden for foreigners to visit the plantations.

After ountless attempts Dutch spies finally succeeded in stealing plants from Arabia and began to cultivate them in Java with great success.  The fiercely guarded monopoly of the Arabs was finally broken.  From then on, coffee was grown in Dutch hot houses and from there it was freely distributed throughout Europe.

In 1723 a young captain in the French navy called de Clieu, while on leave in Paris, decided to take a coffee plant back with him to Martinique where he was stationed.  He planted his treasured seedling in the warm fertile soil of Martinique and the brave but cautious captain placed three of his men on permanent guard around the solitary plant!  All turned out well and de Clieu’s efforts were rewarded.  His hardy seedling went on to flourish and multiply with extraordinary rapidity so that by 1777 there were 18 million coffee trees on the island.

It was the occasion of a boundary dispute between the rival coffee producing countries of Dutch and French Guiana which enabled Brazil to acquire a few of the highly prized coffee seedlings.  Brazil sent a young officer named Palheta, thanks to his native cunning and charming way with ladies, managed to seduce the Governors wife to acquire from her some of the much desired coffee seedlings.  At a banquet, given in Palheta’s honor for resolving the dispute between the two countries.  The Governors wife presented him with a bouquet of flowers, hidden in the colourful bouquet were the green coffee seedlings.  Thus began one of the greatest coffee producing empires.

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