Article 12: Coffee conquered Europe

28/08/2019
3087

Coffee originated in Ethiopia, established the first coffee civilization at the peak of the Ottoman Empire, and was promoted as a drink that developed the human mind during the European Enlightenment age.

Coffee was introduced to Europe through diplomacy between the top leaders of the East and the West.

Coffee was introduced to Europe through diplomacy between the top leaders of the East and the West.

The first studies

The knowledge of coffee was known to Europeans from the studies of the explorers of the Mediterranean. The first paper documenting the enjoyment of coffee was written by a famous German doctor and botanist named Leonhard Rauwolf. He was also the first post-medieval European botanist to explore Syria and was impressed with the very tasty drink, which the natives called Chaube (coffee).

Rauwolf’s Travels, published in 1582, states: “Chaube is almost as black as ink and very good in illness, especially of the stomach. This they drink in the morning early in the open places or on carpets, together, sipping it a little at a time.”

European explorers to the Mediterranean were impressed with the local coffee culture

European explorers to the Mediterranean were impressed with the local coffee culture

In 1592, the doctor, professor of botany Prospero Alpini (Italian) published the book “De Plantis Aegypti” detailing coffee and its scientific benefits to human health. The book is the result of 3 years of traveling to Egypt to study the flora here. Many of the pharmacological properties of coffee in Prospero Alpini’s books are still preserved in the European medicinal literature to this day.

“De Plantis Aegypti” – The first document detailing coffee and its scientific benefits to human health

“De Plantis Aegypti” – The first document detailing coffee and its scientific benefits to human health

Diplomatic Ambassador of East and West

In the 17th century, coffee was officially introduced to Europe through diplomatic channels. In 1669, Ambassador of the Ottoman Empire – Suleiman Aga brought coffee to France as a diplomatic gift between the highest leaders of the East and the West.

In Paris, Suleiman rented a lavish space and showcased the culture of enjoying Ottoman coffee. The Ottoman “miracle drink” created a special appeal, being offered a cup of coffee was a great honor among the Parisian nobility.

Suleiman’s activism promoted the spread of Ottoman coffee culture into early modern France. After this famous visit, coffee shops flourished, spreading to the middle class. The cafe owner was usually Armenian, Syrian or Greek.

The French historian Michelet described the arrival of coffee as "the auspicious revolution of the times, the great event that created a new culture, and even appeased the temper of man."

The French historian Michelet described the arrival of coffee as “the auspicious revolution of the times, the great event that created a new culture, and even appeased the temper of man.”

17 years later, in 1686, a French Sicilian named Francesco Procopio dei Coltelli, who worked as an employee in an Ottoman cafe, recognized the coffeehouse’s role in social connection and economic development. He decided to build the first French-style coffee shop named Café Procope.

By the 18th century, Café Procope and other cafés had become the catalysts for the revolutions that changed European society during the Enlightenment age.

Café Procope is a gathering place for elite intellectuals such as Diderot, Rousseau, Voltaire, etc. De la Régence is a favorite debate place of the founders Robespierre (one of the leaders of the French Revolution 1789), Napoleon Bonaparte (Emperor of France), Benjamin Franklin (founder of America), Karl Marx (founder of Scientific Socialism)…

It can be seen that coffee has conquered Europe not only as a common drink but also as a source of awakening energy, promoting creative thinking during the European Enlightenment age.

*Coming up: Coffee awakened humanity – Frech Class