The story of coffee starts with the legend of Kaldi, an Ethiopian shepherd who supposedly discovered coffee when his goats became very frisky after eating the berries of a small bush. Coffee then spread through the Ottoman empire as it was a non-alcoholic drink over which men could socialize.

The first coffee house in England was established in 1652 in London by Pasqua Rosee, a servant of a wealthy merchant. Within a year Pasqua had gone from selling coffee from a cart on the street to his own coffee shop. Coffee shops spread quickly throughout London and large port cities. However, government in those days was no different from today – in 1675, King Charles II’s ministers wanted to close coffeehouses because of their “evil and dangerous effects”. The king feared that coffee threatened violence against the throne.

Due to coffee’s immense popularity it began to be grown in England’s and France’s colonies using slave labor. Disease wiped out England’s primary supplies from India and Ceylon (Sri Lanka today) and the English switched to drinking tea. Coffee did not recover until about the mid-1990s when chains such as Café Nero and Costa Coffee were established.

Fascinating article with excellent images of early coffee houses, colonial plantations, etc.

Foto is from the BBC article and is of the location where Pasqua’s coffee house stood.


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