Coffee's Mysterious Origins
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The first person known to write about coffee was a Persian physician and philosopher named Rhazes or Razi (850 to 922 AD), who characterized it as a medicine.
Other early writings establish Yemen, on the southern part of the Arabian Peninsula, as home to the first coffee plantations starting in the early 15th century. Coffee plants were brought over from Ethiopia, Yemen lacking its own indigenous coffee.
It was the Ottoman Empire that brought coffee to entirely new places, for new reasons:
Coffee diffused quickly throughout the Ottoman Empire, giving rise to the world's first coffee houses.
The Muslim coffees were introduced to Christian Europe but met with strong resistance from the Catholic Church. The Pope's Councilmen asked Pope Clemente VIII to declare the black beverage "the bitter invention of Satan."
The Pope opted for a taste before deciding. He liked what he tried, declaring, "this devil's drink is so delicious ... we should cheat the devil by baptizing it."
Venice's first coffee house ("bottega del caffe`") opened in 1645, England's in 1650, France's in 1672, and in the New World, a Boston outpost in 1676.
Coffee plants became much sought after. To preserve their monopoly, Arabian coffee traders intentionally made export beans infertile by parching or boiling them before export to Europe.
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