Historical story

From devilish to divine drink. The turbulent history of coffee

Last updated:2022-07-25

Coffee has millions of followers today. Many people cannot imagine a day without a cup of this aromatic drink. It can be drunk in various ways:with milk, alcohol, whipped cream, hot and cold. The list is as long and intricate as ... the history of coffee itself.

Over the centuries, the approach to this drink has changed, and it was considered both a medicine and… a dangerous drug. Importantly, we Poles have a lot of merit in promoting it in Europe.

It is very difficult to define the origins of coffee. It was probably not known in antiquity and in the early Middle Ages. Some sources say that the ancients harvested coffee trees and cooked them with butter and salt, however, they were not cultivated.

One legend, which should be treated as a curiosity, is that between the 6th and 13th centuries a native of Yemen noticed that his goats suddenly became livelier and happier. Interested in this phenomenon, he noticed that they had eaten the coffee beans earlier. So he plucked a handful of them, dried them, then poured boiling water over them and drank. This was how he was going to invent coffee.

Difficult beginnings

According to historians, around the 6th century, coffee from Ethiopia found its way to Arabia. Initially, its grains were eaten, and only later began to brew a drink from it. In the Middle East, drinking coffee became an everyday phenomenon at the turn of the 14th and 15th centuries. Nevertheless, her followers did not have an easy life.

Many rulers tried to combat this custom by banning coffee. They considered it a dangerous mind stimulant . Orthodox Muslims believed that since Muhammad did not like this drink, the followers of the prophet should not eat it either. So in some Arab countries, coffee lovers of the time were persecuted for their liking.

Despite the initial difficulties, coffee gained more and more popularity, and eventually even earlier persecutors were convinced of it. In the form we know today, it "settled in" Arabia for good in the 16th century, from where it then came to Europe, although the first Turkish cafes, kafehauzy, were already in operation in the 15th century. In the 17th century, coffee was such a common drink in the Ottoman Empire that some sources said that a wife whose husband did not supply enough beans could file for a divorce.

19th century coffee plantation

Europe got to know coffee in 1601, when Athony Sherley brought it to England. Originally known as kaveh, the name it now operates under was given to it by William Parry. She also found many supporters and enemies on the Old Continent. The taste and uniqueness of the black drink quickly gained the sympathy of the intelligentsia and European elites, who were delighted with its wonderful aroma. His opponents considered him a dubious aphrodisiac that harms the complexion and potency and causes infertility.

In Germany, the city council of Leipzig has banned the sale of coffee. In Italy, priests thundered from the pulpit, speaking out against the "devilish drink" that Satan had suggested to the faithful in order to destroy and destroy their souls. The terrified clergy even asked Pope Clement VIII to condemn her, but the Pope, having tasted coffee, liked it so much that he began to drink it regularly and said that it would be a shame to leave this delicacy to the infidels. So he suggested ... baptizing coffee and, out of spite of Satan, making it a truly Christian drink.

Beneficial effects of drinking coffee

The first European cafe opened in London in 1652. Its founder was the Armenian Pasqual Rosee. Importantly, he advertised the coffee served there as an excellent medicine for sick eyes, gout, water dropsy, scurvy and a reliable way to stimulate the heart and mind. for boils and syphilis.

The drink from England reached Paris, where it quickly gained immense popularity. In 1690, there were already 250 cafes in the French capital! Social drinking of coffee has become a new habit there. The fashion for cafes very quickly swept most of Europe, not bypassing Poland as well. They also reached America. In 1689, the first coffee shop on the continent was opened in Boston. In the 18th century, coffee finally reached South America, which was to become its largest producer.

Jan Sebastian Bach even composed "Cantata about coffee"

Coffee has also gained great popularity among musicians. The famous composer Rossini very quickly noticed the advantages of the new drink. He claimed that coffee drunk regularly three times a day greatly invigorates the mind, but only for a short time, from fifteen to twenty days, which is perfect enough to write an opera . Jan Sebastian Bach composed "Cantata about coffee" in her honor.

French politician and diplomat Charles-Maurice de Talleyrand believed that coffee must be "hot as hell, black as devil, pure as an angel, sweet as love." Since the 17th century, coffee has become in Europe not only a "suspect" remedy for many diseases, but a real delicacy of the aristocracy. Cafes sprouting like mushrooms in the rain have revolutionized the lifestyle of Europeans for whom coffee consumption has become a kind of social ritual.

Coffee lovers in Rzeczpospolita

The first Polish encyclopedia "New Athens" by priest Benedykt Chmielowski stated in the chapter devoted to coffee that:

almost all Oriental and European nations drink this liquor. The effect of this drink makes your head free of gastric vapor, takes away sleep, scatters the winds he concludes in the stomach.

Poles imported coffee directly from Turkey, along the trade route running through Kamieniec Podolski, Lviv and Jarosław. As in all of Europe, this drink has gained the greatest popularity among intelligentsia and artists. The Enlightenment Monitor, by the poet Józef Epifani, promoted the fashion for drinking coffee. The newspaper even led to the publication of the first monograph devoted to coffee by Father Tadeusz Krusiński.

It was entitled "Pragmatographia de legitimo usu Turkish ambrosia, that is:Describing the proper use of Turkish coffee by Fr. Tadeusz Krusiński S.J., a Persian missionary, a thing from his handwriting selected and put for printing. " Although the editors of "Monitor" shared the opinion that trade from the East is harmful and the best product is the Polish product, they appealed to make an exception for coffee.

The popularity of coffee in Poland grew rapidly in the 18th century, and the drink gained even more lovers than tea. At that time, coffee found its way not only to the tables of the wealthiest citizens, but even “under thatched roofs.” In Korona, typical “Polish coffee” was strong, enriched with exquisite, greasy cream. Thin coffee was called "German" or "Silesian" , because of the economical patterns of life flowing from Prussia.

In the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, there was a development of cafes and confectioneries in Poland. In the latter, various types of coffee were consumed, and their clientele was mainly rich bourgeoisie. Cafes were usually of a more modest character. In addition to drinks and sweets, you could also order a typical Viennese breakfast, consisting of an egg, bread and - of course - coffee.

How a Pole saved coffee from… Austrians

Vienna is a city that has become a kind of synonym for café life. It is worth noting, however, that we, Poles, as a nation, have our share in this. The founder of the first Viennese cafe in 1683 was a Pole, Franciszek Jerzy Kulczycki, a spy, soldier and diplomat of King Jan III Sobieski.

Kulczycki discovered coffee after the Turks escaped from besieged Vienna. Its green beans were then lying in piles around the abandoned Turkish camps. Less experienced in the art of coffee making than today, the Viennese took the beans for camel fodder and decided to burn the find. The scent wafting over Vienna caught the attention of a Pole who showed great presence of mind and saved the coffee from the Austrians.

Kulczycki discovered coffee after the Turks escaped from besieged Vienna. Its green seeds were then lying in piles around the abandoned Turkish camps.

It can be said that the Poles near Vienna saved Europe not only from the invasion of the Turks, but also from the loss of many bags of valuable grains. Kulczycki was granted a permit from the Viennese magistrate to keep the spoils captured by enemies and a license to open the first cafe in Vienna, called "Zur Blauen Flasche". The Pole's Cafe has become very popular in the Austrian capital. He sweetened his coffee with honey, strained it carefully, and served it with a little cream or milk. He later added a pinch of cinnamon to his recipe.

Soon cafes appeared all over Vienna and the inhabitants of the capital began to visit them regularly. Thanks to the relief of Vienna, the Austrians not only maintained their autonomy, but also got to know a new way of life - cafe. The Turkish soldiers lost huge amounts of coffee. Taking into account the aforementioned Turkish divorce law and the sultan's anger, many of them may have lost their wives and heads as well ...


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