With a distinct aroma and irresistible flavor, it has commanded the attention of the world. The coffee trade is immense, second only to that of oil in its value. The history of coffee is filled with stories of those who sought to control that trade, who exacted high tariffs on coffee roasters and those who found ways to circumvent those controls.

Thursday, December 08, 2016

Early writings about coffee

The first known reference to coffee in Arabic writings came from an Islamic physician, Abu Bakr Muhammad ibn Zakariya El Razi  also known as ‘Rhazes’ (852-932), who wrote a now lost medical textbook circa 900 AD.

In his medical textbook, AL-Haiwi (The Continent), Rhazes describes the nature and effects of a plant named ‘bunn’ and a beverage named ‘buncham,’ and what he says about the beverage’s effects is at least consistent with a reference to coffee.

The oldest extant accounts of coffee roasting date to the writings of the famous Islamic physician Ibn Sina, traditionally referred to in English-language texts by his Latinized name ‘Avicenna’. Avicenna’s praises of coffee were published in Arabic circa 1000 AD and translated into Latin circa 1200 AD.

Ibn Sina wrote of a average that ‘fortified the members, cleanses the skin and dries up the humidities that under it, and gives an excellent smell to all the body’.

And along with the coffee bean itself came the institution of the coffeehouse, which had become an important meeting place and source of news in the Arab World, William Biddulph, an English traveler, had noted in 1609 that ‘their Coffee houses are more common than Ale-houses in England…. If there be any news it is talked of there’.

Leonhard Rauwolf a German physician botanist, also traveler and he was the first European to write a description of coffee, which he saw prepared by the Turks in Aleppo in 1573.
Early writings about coffee 

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