In all honesty and fairness, I set out to write a blog on the history of coffee. A bit ambitious perhaps, but I will decide how to best approach it and look for that soon! I have been reading alot of books on coffee including two rare copies that I have from William Ukers (printed in the 1890’s). The guy was a huge coffee historian and buff.
For now, their is a poem that I came across written in 1587 by Sheik Ansari Djezeri Hanball Abd-al-Kadir. Yes, that is the guys whole name! You really can’t make this stuff up. In any case maybe such long name instilled a way with words upon the young Sheik. Enjoy!
“Oh Coffee, you dispel the worries of the Great, you point the way to those who have wandered from the path of knowledge. Coffee is the drink of the friends of God, and of his servants who seek wisdom.
…No one can understand the truth until he drinks of its frothy goodness. Those who condemn coffee as causing man harm are fools in the eyes of God.
Coffee is the common man’s gold, and like gold it brings to every man the feeling of luxury and nobility….Take time in your preparations of coffee and God will be with you and bless you and your table. Where coffee is served there is grace and splendor and friendship and happiness.
All Cares vanish as the coffee cup is raised to the lips. Coffee flows through your body as freely as your life’s blood, refreshing all that it touches: look you at the youth and vigor of those who drink it.
Whoever tastes coffee will forever forswear the liquor of the grape. Oh drink of God’s glory, your purity brings to man only well-being and nobility“
–Sheik Ansari Djezeri Hanball Abd-al-Kadir, 1587. Quoted in Heinrich Eduard Jacob, Coffee, the Epic of a Commodity, trans. Eden and Cedar Paul (New York: The Viking Press, 1935), 18
To give a bit of historical context, coffee was first used and documented in 1000 by a Philosopher and Astronomer Rhazes (850-922) although some date its cultivation to 575 in Yemen. It was used by tribes such as the Galla of Ethiopia and other Northeast African tribes. By 1470-99, Coffee spread to Mecca and other middle eastern areas. Since Muslims were forbidden to consume alcohol, coffee became an alternative that assisted with long nights of prayer. This association is why many European Colonies initially banned coffee during its first appearances in the 1500’s. Eventually the decision reach all the way to the Pope Clement VIII in the 1600’s. Upon tasting it he instead declared that, “This devil’s drink is so delicious…we should cheat the devil by baptizing it.”
Stay Tuned for more on the History of Coffee and let me know what you think about the Sheik’s ode to Coffee!