The Project Gutenberg EBook of All About Coffee, by William H. Ukers

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Title: All About Coffee

Author: William H. Ukers

Release Date: April 4, 2009 [EBook #28500]

Language: English

Character set encoding: ISO-8859-1


Produced by K.D. Thornton, Suzanne Lybarger, Greg Bergquist
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Transcriber’s Note

The punctuation and spelling from the original text have been faithfully preserved. Only obvious typographical errors have been corrected.

All  About

Coffee Pot



Showing the Berry in its Various Ripening Stages from Flower to Cherry
(Inset: 1, green bean; 2, silver skin; 3, parchment; 4, fruit pulp.)
Painted from life by Blendon Campbell





Coffee Pot


Copyright 1922

New York

International Copyright Secured
All Rights Reserved in U.S.A. and
Foreign Countries


To My Wife



Seventeen years ago the author of this work made his first trip abroad to gather material for a book on coffee. Subsequently he spent a year in travel among the coffee-producing countries. After the initial surveys, correspondents were appointed to make researches in the principal European libraries and museums; and this phase of the work continued until April, 1922. Simultaneous researches were conducted in American libraries and historical museums up to the time of the return of the final proofs to the printer in June, 1922.

Ten years ago the sorting and classification of the material was begun. The actual writing of the manuscript has extended over four years.

Among the unique features of the book are the Coffee Thesaurus; the Coffee Chronology, containing 492 dates of historical importance; the Complete Reference Table of the Principal Kinds of Coffee Grown in the World; and the Coffee Bibliography, containing 1,380 references.

The most authoritative works on this subject have been Robinson's The Early History of Coffee Houses in England, published in London in 1893; and Jardin's Le Café, published in Paris in 1895. The author wishes to acknowledge his indebtedness to both for inspiration and guidance. Other works, Arabian, French, English, German, and Italian, dealing with particular phases of the subject, have been laid under contribution; and where this has been done, credit is given by footnote reference. In all cases where it has been possible to do so, however, statements of historical facts have been verified by independent research. Not a few items have required months of tracing to confirm or to disprove.

There has been no serious American work on coffee since Hewitt's Coffee: Its History, Cultivation and Uses, published in 1872; and Thurber's Coffee from Plantation to Cup, published in 1881. Both of these are now out of print, as is also Walsh's Coffee: Its History, Classification and Description, published in 1893.

The chapters on The Chemistry of Coffee and The Pharmacology of Coffee have been prepared under the author's direction by Charles W. Trigg, industrial fellow of the Mellon Institute of Industrial Research.

The author wishes to acknowledge, with thanks, valuable assistance and numerous courtesies by the officials of the following institutions:

British Museum, and Guildhall Museum, London; Bibliothéque Nationale, Paris; Congressional Library, Washington; New York Public Library, Metropolitan Museum of Art, and New York Historical Society, New York; Boston Public Library, and Boston Museum of Fine Arts; Smithsonian Institution, Washington; State Historical Museum, Madison, Wis.; Maine Historical Society, Portland; Chicago Historical Society; New Jersey Historical Society, Newark; Harvard University Library; Essex Institute, Salem, Mass.; Peabody Institute, Baltimore.

Thanks and appreciation are due also to:

Charles James Jackson, London, for permission to quote from his Illustrated History of English Plate;

Francis Hill Bigelow, author; and The Macmillan Company, publishers, for permission to reproduce illustrations from Historic Silver of the Colonies;

H.G. Dwight, author; and Charles Scribner's Sons, publishers, for permission to quote from Constantinople, Old and New, and from the article on "Turkish Coffee Houses" in Scribner's Magazine;

Walter G. Peter, Washington, D.C., for permission to photograph and reproduce pictures of articles in the Peter collection at the United States National Museum;

Mary P. Hamlin and George Arliss, authors, and George C. Tyler, producer, for permission to reproduce the Exchange coffee-house setting of the first act of Hamilton;

Judge A.T. Clearwater, Kingston N.Y.; R.T. Haines Halsey, and Francis P. Garvan, New York, for permission to publish pictures of historic silver coffee pots in their several collections;

The secretaries of the American Chambers of Commerce in London, Paris, and Berlin;

Charles Cooper, London, for his splendid co-operation and for his special contribution to chapter XXXV;

Alonzo H. De Graff, London, for his invaluable aid and unflagging zeal in directing the London researches;

To the Coffee Trade Association, London, for assistance rendered;

To G.J. Lethem, London, for his translations from the Arabic;

Geoffrey Sephton, Vienna, for his nice co-operation;

L.P. de Bussy of the Koloniaal Institute, Amsterdam, Holland, for assistance rendered;

Burton Holmes and Blendon R. Campbell, New York, for courtesies;

John Cotton Dana, Newark, N.J., for assistance rendered;

Charles H. Barnes, Medford, Mass., for permission to publish the photograph of Peregrine White's Mayflower mortar and pestle;

Andrew L. Winton, Ph.D., Wilton, Conn., for permission to quote from his The Microscopy of Vegetable Foods in the chapter on The Microscopy of Coffee and to reprint Prof. J. Moeller's and Tschirch and Oesterle's drawings;

F. Hulton Frankel, Ph.D., Edward M. Frankel, Ph.D., and Arno Viehoever, for their assistance in preparing the chapters on The Botany of Coffee and The Microscopy of Coffee;

A.L. Burns, New York, for his assistance in the correction and revision of chapters XXV, XXVI, XXVII, and XXXIV, and for much historical information supplied in connection with chapters XXX and XXXI;

Edward Aborn, New York, for his help in the revision of chapter XXXVI;

George W. Lawrence, former president, and T.S.B. Nielsen, president, of the New York Coffee and Sugar Exchange, for their assistance in the revision of chapter XXXI;

Helio Lobo, Brazilian consul general, New York; Sebastião Sampaio, commercial attaché of the Brazilian Embassy, Washington; and Th. Langgaard de Menezes, American representative of the Sociedade Promotora da Defeza do Café;

Felix Coste, secretary and manager, the National Coffee Roasters Association; and C.B. Stroud, superintendent, the New York Coffee and Sugar Exchange, for information supplied and assistance rendered in the revision of several chapters;

F.T. Holmes, New York, for his help in the compilation of chronological and descriptive data on coffee-roasting machinery;

Walter Chester, New York, for critical comments on chapter XXVIII.

The author is especially indebted to the following, who in many ways have contributed to the successful compilation of the Complete Reference Table in chapter XXIV, and of those chapters having to do with the early history and development of the green coffee and the wholesale coffee-roasting trades in the United States:

George S. Wright, Boston; A.E. Forbes, William Fisher, Gwynne Evans, Jerome J. Schotten, and the late Julius J. Schotten, St. Louis; James H. Taylor, William Bayne, Jr., A.J. Dannemiller, B.A. Livierato, S.A. Schonbrunn, Herbert Wilde, A.C. Fitzpatrick, Charles Meehan, Clarence Creighton, Abram Wakeman, A.H. Davies, Joshua Walker, Fred P. Gordon, Alex. H. Purcell, George W. Vanderhoef, Col. William P. Roome, W. Lee Simmonds, Herman Simmonds, W.H. Aborn, B. Lahey, John C. Loudon, J.R. Westfal, Abraham Reamer, R.C. Wilhelm, C.H. Stewart, and the late August Haeussler, New York; John D. Warfield, Ezra J. Warner, S.O. Blair, and George D. McLaughlin, Chicago; W.H. Harrison, James Heekin, and Charles Lewis, Cincinnati; Albro Blodgett and A.M. Woolson, Toledo; R.V. Engelhard and Lee G. Zinsmeister, Louisville; E.A. Kahl, San Francisco; S. Jackson, New Orleans; Lewis Sherman, Milwaukee; Howard F. Boardman, Hartford; A.H. Devers, Portland, Ore.; W. James Mahood, Pittsburgh; William B. Harris, East Orange, N.J.

New York, June 17, 1922.

Coffee Pot


Some introductory remarks on the lure of coffee, its place in a rational dietary, its universal psychological appeal, its use and abuse

Civilization in its onward march has produced only three important non-alcoholic beverages—the extract of the tea plant, the extract of the cocoa bean, and the extract of the coffee bean.

Leaves and beans—these are the vegetable sources of the world's favorite non-alcoholic table-beverages. Of the two, the tea leaves lead in total amount consumed; the coffee beans are second; and the cocoa beans are a distant third, although advancing steadily. But in international commerce the coffee beans occupy a far more important position than either of the others, being imported into non-producing countries to twice the extent of the tea leaves. All three enjoy a world-wide consumption, although not to the same extent in every nation; but where either the coffee bean or the tea leaf has established itself in a given country, the other gets comparatively little attention, and usually has great difficulty in making any advance. The cocoa bean, on the other hand, has not risen to the position of popular favorite in any important consuming country, and so has not aroused the serious opposition of its two rivals.

Coffee is universal in its appeal. All nations do it homage. It has become recognized as a human necessity. It is no longer a luxury or an indulgence; it is a corollary of human energy and human efficiency. People love coffee because of its two-fold effect—the pleasurable sensation and the increased efficiency it produces.

Coffee has an important place in the rational dietary of all the civilized peoples of earth. It is a democratic beverage. Not only is it the drink of fashionable society, but it is also a favorite beverage of the men and women who do the world's work, whether they toil with brain or brawn. It has been acclaimed "the most grateful lubricant known to the human machine," and "the most delightful taste in all nature."

No "food drink" has ever encountered so much opposition as coffee. Given to the world by the church and dignified by the medical profession, nevertheless it has had to suffer from religious superstition and medical prejudice. During the thousand years of its development it has experienced fierce political opposition, stupid fiscal restrictions, unjust taxes, irksome duties; but, surviving all of these, it has triumphantly moved on to a foremost place in the catalog of popular beverages.

But coffee is something more than a beverage. It is one of the world's greatest adjuvant foods. There are other auxiliary foods, but none that excels it for palatability and comforting effects, the psychology of which is to be found in its unique flavor and aroma.

Men and women drink coffee because it adds to their sense of well-being. It not only smells good and tastes good to all mankind, heathen or civilized, but all respond to its wonderful stimulating properties. The chief factors in coffee goodness are the caffein content and the caffeol. Caffein supplies the principal stimulant. It increases the capacity for muscular and mental work without harmful reaction. The caffeol supplies the flavor and the aroma—that indescribable Oriental fragrance that wooes us through the nostrils, forming one of the principal elements that make up the lure of coffee. There are several other constituents, including certain innocuous so-called caffetannic acids, that, in combination with the caffeol, give the beverage its rare gustatory appeal.

The year 1919 awarded coffee one of its brightest honors. An American general said that coffee shared with bread and bacon the distinction of being one of the three nutritive essentials that helped win the World War for the Allies. So this symbol of human brotherhood has played a not inconspicuous part in "making the world safe for democracy." The new age, ushered in by the Peace of Versailles and the Washington Conference, has for its hand-maidens temperance and self-control. It is to be a world democracy of right-living and clear thinking; and among its most precious adjuncts are coffee, tea, and cocoa—because these beverages must always be associated with rational living, with greater comfort, and with better cheer.

Like all good things in life, the drinking of coffee may be abused. Indeed, those having an idiosyncratic susceptibility to alkaloids should be temperate in the use of tea, coffee, or cocoa. In every high-tensioned country there is likely to be a small number of people who, because of certain individual characteristics, can not drink coffee at all. These belong to the abnormal minority of the human family. Some people can not eat strawberries; but that would not be a valid reason for a general condemnation of strawberries. One may be poisoned, says Thomas A. Edison, from too much food. Horace Fletcher was certain that over-feeding causes all our ills. Over-indulgence in meat is likely to spell trouble for the strongest of us. Coffee is, perhaps, less often abused than wrongly accused. It all depends. A little more tolerance!

Trading upon the credulity of the hypochondriac and the caffein-sensitive, in recent years there has appeared in America and abroad a curious collection of so-called coffee substitutes. They are "neither fish nor flesh, nor good red herring." Most of them have been shown by official government analyses to be sadly deficient in food value—their only alleged virtue. One of our contemporary attackers of the national beverage bewails the fact that no palatable hot drink has been found to take the place of coffee. The reason is not hard to find. There can be no substitute for coffee. Dr. Harvey W. Wiley has ably summed up the matter by saying, "A substitute should be able to perform the functions of its principal. A substitute to a war must be able to fight. A bounty-jumper is not a substitute."

It has been the aim of the author to tell the whole coffee story for the general reader, yet with the technical accuracy that will make it valuable to the trade. The book is designed to be a work of useful reference covering all the salient points of coffee's origin, cultivation, preparation, and development, its place in the world's commerce and in a rational dietary.

Good coffee, carefully roasted and properly brewed, produces a natural beverage that, for tonic effect, can not be surpassed, even by its rivals, tea and cocoa. Here is a drink that ninety-seven percent of individuals find harmless and wholesome, and without which life would be drab indeed—a pure, safe, and helpful stimulant compounded in nature's own laboratory, and one of the chief joys of life!



Encomiums and descriptive phrases applied to the plant, the berry, and the beverage Page XXVII


Showing the various steps through which the bean passes from plantation to cup Page XXIX


Dealling with the Etymology of Coffee

Origin and translation of the word from the Arabian into various languages—Views of many writers Page 1


History of Coffee Propagation

A brief account of the cultivation of the coffee plant in the Old World, and of its introduction into the New—A romantic coffee adventure Page 5


Early History of Coffee Drinking

Coffee in the Near East in the early centuries—Stories of its origin—Discovery by physicians and adoption by the Church—Its spread through Arabia, Persia, and Turkey—Persecutions and Intolerances—Early coffee manners and customs Page 11


Introduction of Coffee into Western Europe

When the three great temperance beverages, cocoa, tea, and coffee, came to Europe—Coffee first mentioned by Rauwolf in 1582—Early days of coffee in Italy—How Pope Clement VIII baptized it and made it a truly Christian beverage—The first European coffee house, in Venice, 1645—The famous Caffè Florian—Other celebrated Venetian coffee houses of the eighteenth century—The romantic story of Pedrocchi, the poor lemonade-vender, who built the most beautiful coffee house in the world Page 25


The Beginnings of Coffee in France

What French travelers did for coffee—the introduction of coffee by P. de la Roque into Marseilles in 1644—The first commercial importation of coffee from Egypt—The first French coffee house—Failure of the attempt by physicians of Marseilles to discredit coffee—Soliman Aga introduces coffee into Paris—Cabarets à caffè—Celebrated works on coffee by French writers Page 31


The Introduction of Coffee into England

The first printed reference to coffee in English—Early mention of coffee by noted English travelers and writers—The Lacedæmonian "black broth" controversy—How Conopios introduced coffee drinking at Oxford—The first English coffee house in Oxford—Two English botanists on coffee Page 35


The Introduction of Coffee into Holland

How the enterprising Dutch traders captured the first world's market for coffee—Activities of the Netherlands East India Company—The first coffee house at the Hague—The first public auction at Amsterdam in 1711, when Java coffee brought forty-seven cents a pound, green Page 43


The Introduction of Coffee into Germany

The contributions made by German travelers and writers to the literature of the early history of coffee—The first coffee house in Hamburg opened by an English merchant—Famous coffee houses of old Berlin—The first coffee periodical and the first kaffee-klatsch—Frederick the Great's coffee roasting monopoly—Coffee persecutions—"Coffee-smellers"—The first coffee king Page 45


Telling How Coffee Came to Vienna

The romantic adventure of Franz George Kolschitzky, who carried "a message to Garcia" through the enemy's lines and won for himself the honor of being the first to teach the Viennese the art of making coffee, to say nothing of falling heir to the supplies of the green beans left behind by the Turks; also the gift of a house from a grateful municipality, and a statue after death—Affectionate regard in which "Brother-heart" Kolschitzky is held as the patron saint of the Vienna Kaffee-sieder—Life in the early Vienna café's Page 49


The Coffee Houses of Old London

One of the most picturesque chapters in the history of coffee—The first coffee house in London—The first coffee handbill, and the first newspaper advertisement for coffee—Strange coffee mixtures—Fantastic coffee claims—Coffee prices and coffee licenses—Coffee club of the Rota—Early coffee-house manners and customs—Coffee-house keepers' tokens—Opposition to the coffee house—"Penny universities"—Weird coffee substitutes—The proposed coffee-house newspaper monopoly—Evolution of the club—Decline and fall of the coffee house—Pen pictures of coffee-house life—Famous coffee houses of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries—Some Old World pleasure gardens—Locating the notable coffee houses Page 53


History of the Early Parisian Coffee Houses

The introduction of coffee into Paris by Thévenot in 1657—How Soliman Aga established the custom of coffee drinking at the court of Louis XIV—Opening of the first coffee houses—How the French adaptation of the Oriental coffee house first appeared in the real French café of François Procope—Important part played by the coffee houses in the development of French literature and the stage—Their association with the Revolution and the founding of the Republic—Quaint customs and patrons—Historic Parisian café's Page 91


Introduction of Coffee into North America

Captain John Smith, founder of the Colony of Virginia, is the first to bring to North America a knowledge of coffee in 1607—The coffee grinder on the Mayflower—Coffee drinking in 1668—William Penn's coffee purchase in 1683—Coffee in colonial New England—The psychology of the Boston "tea party," and why the United States became a nation of coffee drinkers instead of tea drinkers, like England—The first coffee license to Dorothy Jones in 1670—The first coffee house in New England—Notable coffee houses of old Boston—A skyscraper coffee-house Page 105


History of Coffee in Old New York

The burghers of New Amsterdam begin to substitute coffee for "must," or beer, for breakfast in 1668—William Penn makes his first purchase of coffee in the green bean from New York merchants in 1683—The King's Arms, the first coffee house—The historic Merchants, sometimes called the "Birthplace of our Union"—The coffee house as a civic forum—The Exchange, Whitehall, Burns, Tontine, and other celebrated coffee houses—The Vauxhall and Ranelagh pleasure gardens Page 115


Coffee Houses of Old Philadelphia

Ye Coffee House, Philadelphia's first coffee house, opened about 1700—The two London coffee houses—The City tavern, or Merchants coffee house—How these, and other celebrated resorts, dominated the social, political, and business life of the Quaker City in the eighteenth century Page 125


The Botany of the Coffee Plant

Its complete classification by class, sub-class, order, family, genus, and species—How the Coffea arabica grows, flowers, and bears—Other species and hybrids described—Natural caffein-free coffee—Fungoid diseases of coffee Page 131


The Microscopy of the Coffee Fruit

How the beans may be examined under the microscope, and what is revealed—Structure of the berry, the green, and the roasted beans—The coffee-leaf disease under the microscope—Value of microscopic analysis in detecting adulteration Page 149


The Chemistry of the Coffee Bean

By Charles W. Trigg.

Chemistry of the preparation and treatment of the green bean—Artificial aging—Renovating damaged coffees—Extracts—"Caffetannic acid"—Caffein, caffein-free coffee—Caffeol—Fats and oils—Carbohydrates—Roasting—Scientific aspects of grinding and packaging—The coffee brew—Soluble coffee—Adulterants and substitutes—Official methods of analysis Page 155


Pharmacology of the Coffee Drink

By Charles W. Trigg

General physiological action—Effect on children—Effect on longevity—Behavior in the alimentary régime—Place in dietary—Action on bacteria—Use in medicine—Physiological action of "caffetannic acid"—Of caffeol—Of caffein—Effect of caffein on mental and motor efficiency—Conclusions Page 174


The Commercial Coffees of the World

The geographical distribution of the coffees grown in North America, Central America, South America, the West India Islands, Asia, Africa, the Pacific Islands, and the East Indies—A statistical study of the distribution of the principal kinds—A commercial coffee chart of the world's leading growths, with market names and general trade characteristics Page 189


Cultivation of the Coffee Plant

The early days of coffee culture in Abyssinia and Arabia—Coffee cultivation in general—Soil, climate, rainfall, altitude, propagation, preparing the plantation, shade, wind breaks, fertilizing, pruning, catch crops, pests, and diseases—How coffee is grown around the world—Cultivation in all the principal producing countries Page 197


Preparing Green Coffee for Market

Early Arabian methods of preparation—How primitive devices were replaced by modern methods—A chronological story of the development of scientific plantation machinery, and the part played by English and American inventors—The marvelous coffee package, one of the most ingenious in all nature—How coffee is harvested—Picking—Preparation by the dry and the wet methods—Pulping—Fermentation and washing—Drying—Hulling, or peeling, and polishing—Sizing, or grading—Preparation methods of different countries Page 245


The Production and Consumption of Coffee

A statistical study of world production of coffee by countries—Per capita figures of the leading consuming countries—Coffee-consumption figures compared with tea-consumption figures in the United States and the United Kingdom—Three centuries of coffee trading—Coffee drinking in the United States, past and present—Reviewing the 1921 trade in the United States Page 273


How Green Coffees Are Bought and Sold

Buying coffee in the producing countries—Transporting coffee to the consuming markets—Some record coffee cargoes shipped to the United States—Transport over seas—Java coffee "ex-sailing vessels"—Handling coffee at New York, New Orleans, and San Francisco—The coffee exchanges of Europe and the United States—Commission men and brokers—Trade and exchange contracts for delivery—Important rulings affecting coffee trading—Some well-known green coffee marks Page 303


Green and Roasted Coffee Characteristics

The trade values, bean characteristics, and cup merits of the leading coffees of commerce, with a "Complete Reference Table of the Principal Kinds of Coffee Grown in the World"—Appearance, aroma, and flavor in cup-testing—How experts test coffee—A typical sample-roasting and cup-testing outfit Page 341


Factory Preparation of Roasted Coffee

Coffee roasting as a business—Wholesale coffee-roasting machinery—Separating, milling, and mixing or blending green coffee, and roasting by coal, coke, gas, and electricity—Facts about coffee roasting—Cost of roasting—Green-coffee shrinkage table—"Dry" and "wet" roasts—On roasting coffee efficiently—A typical coal roaster—Cooling and stoning—Finishing or glazing—Blending roasted coffees—Blends for restaurants—Grinding and packaging—Coffee additions and fillers—Treated coffees, and dry extracts Page 379


Wholesale Merchandising of Coffee

How coffees are sold at wholesale—The wholesale salesman's place in merchandising—Some coffee costs analyzed—Handy coffee-selling chart—Terms and credits—About package coffees—Various types of coffee containers—Coffee package labels—Coffee package economies—Practical grocer helps—Coffee sampling—Premium method of sales promotion Page 407


Retail Merchandising of Roasted Coffee

How coffees are sold at retail—The place of the grocer, the tea and coffee dealer, the chain store, and the wagon-route distributer in the scheme of distribution—Starting in the retail coffee business—Small roasters for retail dealers—Model coffee departments—Creating a coffee trade—Meeting competition—Splitting nickels—Figuring costs and profits—A credit policy for retailers—Premiums Page 415


A Short History of Coffee Advertising

Early coffee advertising—The first coffee advertisement in 1587 was frank propaganda for the legitimate use of coffee—The first printed advertisement in English—The first newspaper advertisement—Early advertisements in colonial America—Evolution of advertising—Package coffee advertising—Advertising to the trade—Advertising by means of newspapers, magazines, billboards, electric signs, motion pictures, demonstrations, and by samples—Advertising for retailers—Advertising by government propaganda—The Joint Coffee Trade publicity campaign in the United States—Coffee advertising efficiency Page 431


The Coffee Trade in the United States

The coffee business started by Dorothy Jones of Boston—Some early sales—Taxes imposed by Congress in war and peace—The first coffee-plantation-machine, coffee-roaster, coffee-grinder, and coffee-pot patents—Early trade marks for coffee—Beginnings of the coffee urn, the coffee container, and the soluble-coffee business—Chronological record of the most important events in the history of the trade from the eighteenth century to the twentieth Page 467


Development of the Green and Roasted Coffee Business in the United States

A brief history of the growth of coffee trading—Notable firms and personalities that have played important parts in green coffee in the principal coffee centers—Green coffee trade organizations—Growth of the wholesale coffee-roasting trade, and names of those who have made history in it—The National Coffee Roasters Association—Statistics of distribution of coffee-roasting establishments in the United States Page 475


Some Big Men and Notable Achievements

B.G. Arnold, the first, and Hermann Sielcken, the last of the American "coffee kings"—John Arbuckle, the original package-coffee man—Jabez Burns, the man who revolutionized the roasted-coffee business by his contributions as inventor, manufacturer, and writer—Coffee trade booms and panics—Brazil's first valorization enterprise—War-time government control of coffee—The story of soluble coffee Page 517


A History of Coffee in Literature

The romance of coffee, and its influence on the discourse, poetry, history, drama, philosophic writing, and fiction of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries and on the writers of today—Coffee quips and anecdotes Page 541


Coffee in Relation to the Fine Arts

How coffee and coffee drinking have been celebrated in painting, engraving, sculpture, caricature, lithography, and music—Epics, rhapsodies, and cantatas in praise of coffee—Beautiful specimens of the art of the potter and the silversmith as shown in the coffee service of various periods in the world's history—Some historical relics Page 587


The Evolution of Coffee Apparatus

Showing the development of coffee-roasting, coffee-grinding, coffee-making, and coffee-serving devices from the earliest time to the present day—The original coffee grinder, the first coffee roaster, and the first coffee pot—The original French drip pot, the De Belloy percolator—Count Rumford's improvement—How the commercial coffee roaster was developed—The evolution of filtration devices—The old Carter "pull-out" roaster—Trade customs in New York and St. Louis in the sixties and seventies—The story of the evolution of the Burns roaster—How the gas roaster was developed in France, Great Britain, and the United States Page 615


World's Coffee Manners and Customs

How coffee is roasted, prepared, and served in all the leading civilized countries—The Arabian coffee ceremony—The present-day coffee houses of Turkey—Twentieth century improvements in Europe and the United States Page 655


Preparation of the Universal Beverage

The evolution of grinding and brewing methods—Coffee was first a food, then a wine, a medicine, a devotional refreshment, a confection, and finally a beverage—Brewing by boiling, infusion, percolation, and filtration—Coffee making in Europe in the nineteenth century—Early coffee making in the United States—Latest developments in better coffee making—Various aspects of scientific coffee brewing—Advice to coffee lovers on how to buy coffee, and how to make it in perfection Page 693


Giving dates and events of historical interest in legend, travel, literature, cultivation, plantation treatment, trading, and in the preparation and use of coffee from the earliest time to the present Page 725


A list of references gathered from the principal general and scientific libraries—Arranged in alphabetic order of topics Page 738

Page 769

Coffee Pot


Color Plates
Facing page
Coffee branches, flowers, and fruit (painted by Blendon Campbell) Frontispiece v
Coffea arabica; leaves, flowers, and fruit (painted by M.E. Eaton) 1
The coffee tree bears fruit, leaf, and blossom at the same time 16
A close-up of ripe coffee berries 32
Coffee under the Stars and Stripes 144
Coffee scenes in British India 160
Picking and sacking coffee in Brazil 176
Mild-coffee culture and preparation 192
Coffee scenes in Java 200
Coffee scenes in Sumatra 216
Coffee preparation in Central and South America 248
Typical coffee scenes in Costa Rica 336
Principal varieties of green-coffee beans, natural size and color 352
Coal-roasting plant, New York 408
Coffee scenes in the Near and Far East 544
Primitive transportation methods, Arabia 640
Hulling coffee in Aden, Arabia 656

Black and White Illustrations
Coffee tree in flower 4
De Clieu and his coffee plant 7
Legendary discovery of coffee drink 10
Title page of Dufour's book 13
Frontispiece from Dufour's book 15
Turkish coffee house, 17th century 21
Serving coffee to a guest, Arabia 23
First printed reference to coffee 24
An 18th-century Italian coffee house 26
Nobility in an early Venetian café 27
Goldoni in a Venetian coffee house 28
Florian's famous coffee house 29
Title page of La Roque's work 32
Coffee tree as pictured by La Roque 32
Coffee branch in La Roque's work 33
First printed reference in English 37
Reference in Sherley's travels 39
References in Biddulph's travels 40
Mol's coffee house at Exeter 41
Reference in Sandys' travels 42
Richter's coffee house, Leipsic 46
Coffee house, Germany, 17th century 47
Kolschitzky in his Blue Bottle coffee house 48
First coffee house in Leopoldstadt 50
Statue of Kolschitzky 51
First advertisement for coffee 55
First newspaper advertisement 57
Coffee house, time of Charles II 60
London coffee house, 17th century 61
Coffee house, Queen Anne's time 62
Coffee-house keepers' tokens (plate 1) 63
A broadside of 1663 64
Coffee-house keepers' tokens (plate 2) 65
A broadside of 1667 68
A broadside of 1670 70
A broadside of 1672 70
A broadside of 1674 71
White's and Brooke's coffee houses 78
London coffee-house politicians 78
Great Fair on the frozen Thames 79
Lion's head at Button's 80
Trio of notables at Button's 81
Vauxhall Gardens on a gala night 82
Rotunda in Ranelagh Gardens 83
Garraway's coffee house 84
Button's coffee house 84
Slaughter's coffee house 85
Tom's coffee house 85
Lloyd's coffee house 86
Dick's coffee house 87
Grecian coffee house 87
Don Saltero's coffee house 88
British coffee house 88
French coffee house in London 89
Ramponaux' Royal Drummer café 90
La Foire St.-Germain 92
Street coffee vender of Paris 92
Armenian decorations in Paris café 93
Corner of historic Café de Procope 93
Café de Procope, Paris 95
Cashier's desk in coffee house, Paris 96
Café Foy 97
Café des Mille Colonnes 99
Café de Paris 101
Interior of a typical Parisian café 103
Chess at the Café de la Régence 104
Types of colonial coffee roasters 106
Early family coffee roaster 106
Historic relics, early New England 107
Mayflower "coffee grinder" 108
Crown coffee house, Boston 108
Coffee devices, Massachusetts colony 109
Coffee devices of western pioneers 110
Coffee pots of colonial days 110
Green Dragon tavern, Boston 111
Metal coffee pots, New York colony 112
Exchange coffee house, Boston 113
President-elect Washington's official welcome at Merchants Coffee House 114
King's Arms coffee house, New York 116
Burns coffee house 117
Merchants coffee house 119
Tontine coffee house 121
Tontine building of 1850 122
Niblo's Garden 122
Coffee relics, Dutch New York 122
New York's Vauxhall Garden of 1803 123
Tavern and grocers' signs, old New York 124
Second London coffee house, Philadelphia 127
Selling slaves, old London coffee house 128
City tavern, Philadelphia 129
Coffee-house scene in "Hamilton" 130
Coffee tree, flowers and fruit 132
Germination of the coffee plant 133
Brazil coffee plantation in flower 134
Coffea arabica, Porto Rico 135
Coffea arabica, flower and fruit, Costa Rica 135
Young Coffea arabica, Kona, Hawaii 136
Survivors of first Liberian trees in Java 136
Coffea arabica in flower, Java 137
Liberian coffee tree, Lamoa, P.I. 138
Coffea congensis, 212 years old 138
Flowering of 5-year-old Coffea excelsa 139
Branches of Coffea excelsa 140
Coffea stenophylla 140
Near view of Coffea arabica berries 141
Wild caffein-free coffee tree 142
Coffee bean characteristics 142
Coffea arabica berries 143
Robusta coffee in flower 144
One-year-old robusta estate 145
Coffea Quillou flowers 146
Quillou coffee tree in blossom 147
Coffea Ugandæ 148
Coffea arabica under the microscope 149
Cross-section of coffee bean 150
Cross-section of hull and bean 150
Epicarp and pericarp under microscope 151
Endocarp and endosperm under microscope 152
Spermoderm under microscope 152
Tissues of embryo under microscope 152
Coffee-leaf disease under microscope 153
Green and roasted coffee under microscope 153
Green and roasted Bogota under microscope 154
Cross-section of endosperm 156
Portion of the investing membrane 157
Structure of the green bean 157
Ground coffee under microscope 167
Coffee tree in bearing, Lamoa, P.I. 196
Early coffee implements 198
Cross-section of mountain slope, Yemen 198
First steps in coffee-growing 199
Coffee nursery, Guatemala 200
Coffee under shade, Porto Rico 201
Boekit Gompong estate, Sumatra 202
Estate in Antioquia, Colombia 203
Weeding and harrowing, São Paulo 204
Fazenda Dumont, São Paulo 205
Fazenda Guatapara, São Paulo 206
Picking coffee, São Paulo 207
Intensive cultivation, São Paulo 207
Private railroad, São Paulo 208
Coffee culture in São Paulo 209
Heavily laden coffee tree, Bogota 210
Picking coffee, Bogota 211
Altamira Hacienda, Venezuela 212
Carmen Hacienda, Venezuela 213
Heavy fruiting, Coffea robusta, Java 214
Road through coffee estate, Java 215
Native picking coffee, Sumatra 216
Administrator's bungalow, Java 216
Administrator's bungalow, Sumatra 217
Coffee culture in Guatemala 218
Indians picking coffee, Guatemala 219
Bungalow, coffee estate, Guatemala 220
Thirty-year-old coffee trees, Mexico 221
Mexican coffee picker 222
Receiving coffee, Mexico 223
Heavily laden coffee tree, Porto Rico 224
Coffee cultivation, Costa Rica 225
Picking Costa Rica coffee 226
Mountain coffee estate, Costa Rica 226
Mysore coffee estate 227
Coffee growing under shade, India 228
Coffee estate at Harar 229
Wild coffee near Adis Abeba 231
Mocha coffee growing on terraces 232
Picking Blue Mountain berries, Jamaica 233
Coffee pickers, Guadeloupe 234
Coffee in blossom, Panama 235
Robusta coffee, Cochin-China 237
Bourbon trees, French Indo-China 238
Picking coffee in Queensland 239
Coffee in bloom, Kona, Hawaii 240
Coffee at Hamakua, Hawaii 241
Coffee trees, South Kona, Hawaii 242
Plantation near Sagada, P.I. 243
Coffee preparation, São Paulo 244
Walker's original disk pulper 246
Early English coffee peeler 246
Group of English cylinder pulpers 247
Copper covers for pulper cylinders 248
Granada unpulped coffee separator 249
Hand-power double-disk pulper 249
Tandem coffee pulper 250
Horizontal coffee washer 251
Vertical coffee washer 251
Cobán pulper, Venezuela 252
Niagara power coffee huller 252
British and American coffee driers 253
American Guardiola drier 254
Smout peeler and polisher 254
Smout peeler and polisher, exposed 255
O'Krassa's coffee drier 255
Six well-known hullers and separators 256
El Monarca coffee classifier 257
Hydro-electric installation, Guatemala 258
Preparing Brazil coffee for market 259
Working coffee on the drying flats 260
Fermenting and washing tanks, São Paulo 260
Drying grounds, Fazenda Schmidt 261
Preparing Colombian coffee for market 262
Old-fashioned ox-power huller 263
Street-car coffee transport, Orizaba 264
Coffee on drying floors, Porto Rico 264
Sun-drying coffee 265
Drying patio, Costa Rica 266
Early Guardiola steam drier 266
Indian women cleaning Mocha coffee 267
Cleaning-and-grading machinery, Aden 268
Drying coffee at Harar 269
Preparing Java coffee for market 270
Coffee transport in Java 271
Meeting of Amsterdam coffee brokers, 1820 291
Bill of public sale of coffee, 1790 292
Last sample before export, Santos 304
Stamping bags for export 304
Preparing Brazil coffee for export 305
Grading coffee at Santos 306
The test by the cups, Santos 306
New York importers' warehouse, Santos 307
Pack-mule transport in Venezuela 308
Coffee-carrying cart, Guatemala 308
Pack-oxen fording stream, Colombia 308
Coffee transport, Mexico and South America 309
Donkey coffee-transport at Harar 310
Coffee camels at Harar 310
Selling coffee by tapping hands, Aden 310
Packing and transporting coffee, Aden 311
Coffee camel train at Hodeida 312
Methods of loading coffee, Santos 313
Coffee freighter, Cauca River, Colombia 314
Coffee steamers on the Magdalena 314
Loading heavy cargo on Santa Cecilia 315
Unloading Java coffee from sailing vessel 317
Receiving piers for coffee, New York 318
Unloading coffee, covered pier, New York 319
Receiving and storing coffee, New York 320
Tester at work, Bush Terminal, New York 321
Loading lighters, Bush Docks, Brooklyn 321
New Terminal system on Staten Island 322
Motor tractor, Bush piers 322
Unloading with modern conveyor 323
Coffee handling, New Orleans piers 324
Coffee in steel-covered sheds, New Orleans 325
Unloading and storing coffee, San Francisco 326
Modern device for handling green coffee 327
Handling green coffee at European ports 328
New York Coffee and Sugar Exchange 329
Coffee section, Coffee and Sugar Exchange 330
Blackboards, Coffee Exchange 331
"Coffee afloat" blackboard 332
Well known green-coffee marks 339
Bourbon-Santos beans, roasted 343
Flat and Bourbon-Santos beans, roasted 343
Rio beans, roasted 343
Mexican beans, roasted 347
Guatemala beans, roasted 347
Bogota (Colombia) beans, roasted 348
Maracaibo beans, roasted 349
Mocha beans, roasted 351
Washed Java beans, roasted 353
Sample-roasting and cup-testing outfit 357
Modern gas coffee-roasting plant 380
Sixteen-cylinder coal roasting plant 382
Green-coffee separating and milling machines 384
English gas coffee-roasting plant 385
German gas coffee-roasting plant 386
French gas coffee-roasting plant 387
Jumbo coffee roaster, Arbuckle plant 388
Roasting plant of Reid, Murdoch & Co. 389
Complete gas coffee-plant installation 390
Burns Jubilee gas roaster 391
Burns coal roaster 392
Open perforated cylinder with flexible back head 392
Trying the roast 394
Monitor gas roaster 394
A group of roasting-room accessories 394
Dumping the roast 395
A four-bag coffee finisher 396
Burns sample-coffee roaster 396
Lambert coal coffee-roasting outfit 397
Coles No. 22 grinding mill 398
Monitor coffee-granulating machine 398
Challenge pulverizer 398
Burns No. 12 grinding mill 399
Monitor steel-cut grinder, separator, etc 399
Johnson carton-filling, weighing, and sealing machine 400
Ideal steel-cut mill 400
Smyser package-making and filling machine 401
Automatic coffee-packing machine 402
Complete coffee-cartoning outfit 403
Automatic coffee-weighing machines 404
Units in manufacture of soluble coffee 405
Types of coffee containers 411
Fresh-roasted-coffee idea in retailing 414
Premium tea and coffee dealer's display 416
Chain-store interior 417
Familiar A & P store front 418
Specialist idea in coffee merchandising 419
Monitor gas roaster, cooler, and stoner 420
Royal gas coffee roaster for retailers 420
Burns half-bag roaster, cooler, and stoner 421
Lambert Jr. roasting outfit for retailers 421
Faulder and Simplex gas roasters 422
Coffee roasters used in Paris shops 423
Small German roasters 424
Popular French retail roaster 424
Uno cabinet gas roaster and cooler 424
Educational window exhibit 425
Better-class American grocery, interior 426
Prize-winning window display 427
Americanized English grocer's shop 429
Famous package coffees 430
First coffee advertisement in U.S. 433
Coffee advertisement of 1790 434
First colored handbill for package coffee 435
Reverse side of colored handbill 435
St. Louis handbill of 1854 436
Advertising-card copy, 1873 437
Handbill copy of the seventies 437
Box-end sticker, 1833 438
Chase & Sanborn advertisement, 1888 438
A Goldberg cartoon, 1910 439
Copy used by Chase & Sanborn, 1900 439
An effective cut-out 442
How coffee is advertised to the trade 443
Joint Coffee Trade Publicity Committee 447
Magazine and newspaper copy, 1919 449
Copy that stressed helpfulness of coffee, 1919–20 450
Joint Committee's house organ 451
Introductory medical-journal copy 451
Telling the doctors the truth, 1920 452
Joint Committee's attractive booklets 453
More medical journal copy, 1920 454
Magazine and newspaper copy, 1921 455
Educating the doctor, 1922 456
Magazine and newspaper copy, 1922 457
Specimen of early Yuban copy 459
Historical association in advertising 459
Package coffee advertising in 1922 460
The social distinction argument 461
Drawing upon history for atmosphere 461
An impressive electric sign, Chicago 462
How coffee is advertised outdoors 463
Attractive car cards, spring of 1922 464
Effective iced-coffee copy 465
European advertising novelty, New York 465
Coenties Slip, in days of sailing vessels 466
First U.S. coffee-grinder patent 469
Carter's Pull-out roaster patent 469
First registered trade mark for coffee 470
Original Arbuckle coffee packages 471
Merchants coffee house tablet 473
Departed dominant figures in New York green coffee trade 476
"Their association with New York green coffee trade dates back nearly fifty years" 477
Green coffee trade-builders who have passed on 478
"Their race is run, their course is done" 479
112 Front Street, New York, 1879 480
At 87 Wall Street, New York, years ago 480
Wall and Front Streets, New York, 1922 481
Front Street, New York, 1922 483
In the New Orleans coffee district 486
Green coffee district, New Orleans 487
California Street, San Francisco 488
San Francisco's coffee district 489
Pioneer coffee roasters, New York City 493
Oldtime New York coffee roasters 495
Pioneer coffee roasters of the North and East, U.S. 500
Pioneer coffee roasters of the South and West, U.S. 504
Ground coffee price list of 1862 507
Organization convention, N.C.R.A., 1911 510
Former presidents, N.C.R.A. 512
Earliest coffee manuscript 540
Song from "The Coffee House" 555
Dr. Johnson's seat, the Cheshire Cheese 567
Original coffee room, old Cock Tavern 568
Morning gossip in the coffee room 569
"His Warmest Welcome at an Inn" 571
Alexander Pope at Button's, 1730 577
Dutch coffee house, 1650 (by Van Ostade) 586
White's coffee house, 1733 (by Hogarth) 588
Tom King's, 1738 (by Hogarth) 589
Petit Déjeuner (by Boucher) 590
Coffee service in the home of Madame de Pompadour (by Van Loo) 590
Madame Du Barry (by Decreuse) 591
Coffee house at Cairo (by Gérôme) 592
Kaffeebesuch (by Philippi) 593
Coffee comes to the aid of the Muse (by Ruffio) 593
Mad dog in a coffee house (by Rowlandson) 594
Napoleon and the Curé (by Charlet) 595
Coffee, a chanson (music by Colet) 596
Statue of Kolschitzky 597
Betty's Aria, Bach's coffee cantata 598
Café Pedrocchi, Padua 599
Coffee grinder set with jewels 600
Italian wrought-iron coffee roaster 600
Seventeenth-century tea and coffee pots 601
Lantern coffee pot, 1692 602
Folkingham pot, 1715–16 602
Wastell pot, 1720–21 603
Dish of coffee-boy design, 1692 603
Chinese porcelain coffee pot 604
Silver coffee pots, early 18th century 604
Silver coffee pots, 18th century 605
Pottery and porcelain pots 606
Silver coffee pots, late 18th century 607
Porcelain pots, Metropolitan Museum 608
Vienna coffee pot, 1830 609
Spanish coffee pot, 18th century 609
Silver coffee pots in American collections 610
Coffee pot by Win. Shaw and Wm. Priest 611
Pot of Sheffield plate, 18th century 611
Pot by Ephraim Brasher 611
French silver coffee pot 612
Green Dragon tavern coffee urn 612
Coffee pots by American silversmiths 613
Twentieth-century American coffee service 613
Turkish coffee set, Peter collection 614
Oldest coffee grinder 616
Grain mill used by Greeks and Romans 616
First coffee roaster 616
First cylinder roaster, 1650 616
Historical relics, U.S. National Museum 617
Turkish coffee mill 618
Early French wall and table grinders 618
Bronze and brass mortars, 17th century 619
Early American coffee roasters 619
Roaster with three-sided hood 620
Roasting, making, and serving devices, 17th century 620
English and French coffee grinders 621
Eighteenth-century roaster 621
Original French drip pot 621
Belgian, Russian, and French pewter pots 622
17th and 18th century pewter pots 623
Count Rumford's percolator 623
Drawings of early French coffee makers 624
Early French filtration devices 624
Early American coffee-maker patents 625
French coffee makers, 19th century 625
First English commercial roaster patent 626
Early French coffee-roasting machines 627
Battery of Carter pull-out machines 628
Early English and American roasters 630
Early Foreign and American coffee-making devices 632
Dakin roasting machine of 1848 633
Globe stove roaster of 1860 634
Hyde's combined roaster and stove 634
Original Burns roaster, 1864 635
Burns granulating mill, 1872–74 636
Napier's vacuum machine 637
German gas and coal roasting machines 638
Other German coffee roasters 639
Original Enterprise mill 640
Max Thurmer's quick gas roaster 640
An English gas coffee-roasting plant 641
French globular roaster 642
Sirocco machine (French) 642
English roasting and grinding equipment 643
Magic gas machine (French) 644
Burns Jubilee gas machine 644
Double gas roasting outfit (French) 645
Lambert's Victory gas machine 646
One of the first electric mills 647
English electric-fuel roaster 648
Ben Franklin electric coffee roaster 648
Enterprise hand store mill 649
Latest types electric store mills 650
Italian rapid coffee-making machines 651
Working of Italian rapid machines 652
La Victoria Arduino Mignonne 652
N.C.R.A. Home coffee mill 653
Manthey-Zorn rapid infuser and dispenser 653
Tricolette, single-cup filter device 654
Moorish coffee house in Algiers 656
Coffee house in Cairo 656
Coffee service in Cairo barber shop 657
Coffee-laden camels, Arabia 658
Arabian coffee house 658
Mahommedan brewing coffee for guest 659
Native café, Harar 661
Early coffee, tea, and chocolate service 661
Nubian slave girl with coffee service 662
Persian coffee service, 1737 663
In a Turkish coffee house 664
Roasting coffee outside a Turkish café 664
Turkish caffinet, early 19th century 665
Coffee-making in Turkey 666
Street coffee vender in the Levant 666
A coffee house in Syria 667
Cafetan—garb of oriental café-keeper 668
Street coffee service in Constantinople 668
Riverside café in Damascus 669
Coffee al fresco in Jerusalem 671
Café Schrangl, Vienna 672
Favorite English way of making coffee 673
A café of Ye Mecca Company, London 673
Groom's coffee house, London 674
Café Monico, Piccadilly Circus, London 674
Gatti's, The Strand, London 675
Tea lounge, Hotel Savoy, London 675
Two popular places for coffee in London 676
Temple Bar restaurant, London 677
Tea balcony, Hotel Cecil, London 677
One of Slater's chain-shops, London 677
St. James's restaurant, Picadilly, London 678
An A.B.C. shop, London 678
Halt of caravaners at a serai, Bulgaria 678
Café de la Paix, Paris 679
Sidewalk annex, Café de la Paix 680
Café de la Régence, Paris 681
Café de la Régence in 1922 682
One of the Biard cafés, Paris 683
Restaurant Procope, 1922 683
Morning coffee at a Boulevard café 684
Café Bauer, Unter den Linden, Berlin 684
Café Bauer, exterior 685
Kranzler's Unter den Linden, Berlin 685
Swedish coffee boilers 687
Sidewalk café, Lisbon 687
Coffee rooms replacing hotel bars, U.S. 688
Britannia coffee pot—a Lincoln relic 690
Coffee service, Hotel Astor, New York 691
Early coffee-making in Persia 694
Napier vacuum coffee maker 700
Napier-List steam coffee machine 700
Finley Acker's filter-paper coffee pot 700
Kin-Hee pot in operation 701
Tricolator in operation 701
King percolator 701
Three American coffee-making machines in operation 702
How the Tru-Bru pot operates 702
Coffee-making devices used in U.S. 703
English hotel coffee-making machines 706
Well-known makes of large coffee urns 707
Popular German drip pot 708
Section of roasted bean, magnified 719
Cross-section of roasted bean, magnified 720
Coarse grind under the microscope 720
Medium grind under the microscope 721
Fine-meal grind under the microscope 721

Ach, F.J. 447, 512
Akers, Fred 495
Ames, Allan P. 447
Arbuckle, John 523
Arnold, Benjamin Greene 476, 517
Arnold, F.B. 476
Bayne, William 479
Bayne, William, Jr. 447
Beard, Eli 493
Beard, Samuel 493
Bennett, William H. 479
Bickford, C.E. 478
Boardman, Thomas J. 500
Boardman, William 500
Brand, Carl W. 512
Brandenstein, M.J. 504
Burns, Jabez 527
Canby, Edward 500
Casanas, Ben C. 512
Cauchois. F.A. 493
Chase, Caleb 500
Cheek, J.O. 504, 515
Closset, Joseph 504
Coste, Felix 447
Crossman, Geo. W. 479
Devers, A.H. 504
Dwinell, James F. 500
Eppens, Fred 495
Eppens, Julius A. 495, 497
Eppens, W.H. 493, 495
Evans, David G. 504
Fischer, Benedickt 493
Flint, J.G. 500
Folger, J.A., Jr. 504
Folger, J.A., Sr. 504
Forbes, A.E. 504
Forbes, Jas. H. 504
Geiger, Frank J. 500
Gillies, Jas. W. 493
Gillies, Wright 493
Grossman, William 500
Harrison, D.Y. 500
Harrison, W.H. 500
Haulenbeek, Peter 493
Hayward, Martin 500
Heekin, James 500
Jones, W.T. 504
Kimball, O.G. 478
Kinsella, W.J. 504
Kirkland, Alexander 495
Kolschitzky, Franz George 50
McLaughlin, W.F. 500
Mahood, Samuel 500
Mayo, Henry 495
Meehan, P.C. 477
Menezes, Th. Langgaard de 446
Meyer, Robert 511
Peck, Edwin H. 477
Phyfe, Jas. W. 478
Pierce, O.W., Sr. 500
Pupke, John F. 495
Purcell, Joseph 476
Reid, Fred 495
Reid, Thomas 493, 495
Roome, Col. William P. 499
Russell, James C. 478
Sanborn, James S. 500
Schilling, A. 504
Schotten, Julius J. 504, 512
Schotten, William 504
Seelye, Frank R. 512
Sielcken, Hermann 476, 519
Simmonds, H. 477
Sinnot, J.B. 504
Smith, L.B. 493
Smith, M.E. 504
Sprague, Albert A. 500
Stephens, Henry A. 500
Stoffregen, Charles 504
Stoffregen, C.H. 447
Taylor, James H. 477
Thomson, A.M. 500
Van Loan, Thomas 498
Weir, Ross W. 447, 512
Westfeldt, George 479
Widlar, Francis 500
Wilde, Samuel 493
Withington, Elijah 493
Woolson, Alvin M. 500
Wright, George C. 500
Wright, George S. 447
Young, Samuel 500
Zinsmeister, J. 504

Maps, Charts, and Diagrams
Map of London coffee-house district, 1748 76
Formula for Caffein 160
Commercial coffee chart 191
Eiffel and Woolworth towers in coffee 272
World's coffee cup and largest ship 275
Coffee exports, 1850–1920 277
Coffee exports, 1916–1920 277
Brazil coffee exports, 1850–1920 278
World's coffee consumption, 1850 286
Coffee imports, 1916–1920 286
World trend of consumption of tea and coffee, 1860–1920 288
Coffee map of World (folded insert) facing 288
Pre-war annual average production of coffee by continents 294
Pre-war annual average production of coffee by countries 294
Pre-war average annual imports of coffee into U.S. by continents 295
Pre-war average annual imports of coffee into U.S. by countries 295
Pre-war coffee-imports chart 297
Pre-war consumption and price chart 297
Coffee map, Brazil 342
Coffee map, São Paulo, Minãs, and Rio 344
Mild-coffee map, 1 346
Coffee map, Africa and Arabia 352
Mild-coffee map, 2 354
Complete reference table (21 pp.) 358
Plan of milling-machine connections 381
Plan of green-coffee-mixer connections 383
Layout for coffee and tea department 418
Chart, advertising of coffee and coffee substitutes, 1911–20 440
Charts, per capita consumption of coffee, and coffee and substitute advertising 441
Chart, plan of advertising campaign 448
Chart, private-brand advertising, 1921 458
Coffee Pot


Encomiums and descriptive phrases applied to the plant, the berry, and the beverage

The Plant

The precious plant
This friendly plant
Mocha's happy tree
The gift of Heaven
The plant with the jessamine-like flowers
The most exquisite perfume of Araby the blest
Given to the human race by the gift of the Gods

The Berry

The magic bean
The divine fruit
Fragrant berries
Rich, royal berry
Voluptuous berry
The precious berry
The healthful bean
The Heavenly berry
The marvelous berry
This all-healing berry
Yemen's fragrant berry
The little aromatic berry
Little brown Arabian berry
Thought-inspiring bean of Arabia
The smoking, ardent beans Aleppo sends
That wild fruit which gives so beloved a drink

The Beverage

Festive cup
Juice divine
Nectar divine
Ruddy mocha
A man's drink
Lovable liquor
Delicious mocha
The magic drink
This rich cordial
Its stream divine
The family drink
The festive drink
Coffee is our gold
Nectar of all men
The golden mocha
This sweet nectar
Celestial ambrosia
The friendly drink
The cheerful drink
The essential drink
The sweet draught
The divine draught
The grateful liquor
The universal drink
The American drink
The amber beverage
The convivial drink
The universal thrill
King of all perfumes
The cup of happiness
The soothing draught
Ambrosia of the Gods
The intellectual drink
The aromatic draught
The salutary beverage
The good-fellow drink
The drink of democracy
The drink ever glorious
Wakeful and civil drink
The beverage of sobriety
A psychological necessity
The fighting man's drink
Loved and favored drink
The symbol of hospitality
This rare Arabian cordial
Inspirer of men of letters
The revolutionary beverage
Triumphant stream of sable
Grave and wholesome liquor
The drink of the intellectuals
A restorative of sparkling wit
Its color is the seal of its purity
The sober and wholesome drink
Lovelier than a thousand kisses
This honest and cheering beverage
A wine which no sorrow can resist
The symbol of human brotherhood
At once a pleasure and a medicine
The beverage of the friends of God
The fire which consumes our griefs
Gentle panacea of domestic troubles
The autocrat of the breakfast table
The beverage of the children of God
King of the American breakfast table
Soothes you softly out of dull sobriety
The cup that cheers but not inebriates[1]
Coffee, which makes the politician wise
Its aroma is the pleasantest in all nature
The sovereign drink of pleasure and health[2]
The indispensable beverage of strong nations
The stream in which we wash away our sorrows
The enchanting perfume that a zephyr has brought
Favored liquid which fills all my soul with delight
The delicious libation we pour on the altar of friendship
This invigorating drink which drives sad care from the heart


Evolution of a Cup of Coffee


Painted from nature by M.E. Eaton—Detail sketches show anther, pistil, and section of corolla

[Pg 1]

Chapter I


Origin and translation of the word from the Arabian into various languages—Views of many writers

The history of the word coffee involves several phonetic difficulties. The European languages got the name of the beverage about 1600 from the original Arabic qahwah qahwah, not directly, but through its Turkish form, kahveh. This was the name, not of the plant, but the beverage made from its infusion, being originally one of the names employed for wine in Arabic.

Sir James Murray, in the New English Dictionary, says that some have conjectured that the word is a foreign, perhaps African, word disguised, and have thought it connected with the name Kaffa, a town in Shoa, southwest Abyssinia, reputed native place of the coffee plant, but that of this there is no evidence, and the name qahwah is not given to the berry or plant, which is called bunn bunn, the native name in Shoa being būn.

Contributing to a symposium on the etymology of the word coffee in Notes and Queries, 1909, James Platt, Jr., said:

The Turkish form might have been written kahvé, as its final h was never sounded at any time. Sir James Murray draws attention to the existence of two European types, one like the French café, Italian caffè, the other like the English coffee, Dutch koffie. He explains the vowel o in the second series as apparently representing au, from Turkish ahv. This seems unsupported by evidence, and the v is already represented by the ff, so on Sir James's assumption coffee must stand for kahv-ve, which is unlikely. The change from a to o, in my opinion, is better accounted for as an imperfect appreciation. The exact sound of ă in Arabic and other Oriental languages is that of the English short u, as in "cuff." This sound, so easy to us, is a great stumbling-block to other nations. I judge that Dutch koffie and kindred forms are imperfect attempts at the notation of a vowel which the writers could not grasp. It is clear that the French type is more correct. The Germans have corrected their koffee, which they may have got from the Dutch, into kaffee. The Scandinavian languages have adopted the French form. Many must wonder how the hv of the original so persistently becomes ff in the European equivalents. Sir James Murray makes no attempt to solve this problem.

Virendranath Chattopádhyáya, who also contributed to the Notes and Queries symposium, argued that the hw of the Arabic qahwah becomes sometimes ff and sometimes only f or v in European translations because some languages, such as English, have strong syllabic accents (stresses), while others, as French, have none. Again, he points out that the surd aspirate h is heard in some languages, but is hardly audible in others. Most Europeans tend to leave it out altogether.

Col. W.F. Prideaux, another contributor, argued that the European languages got one form of the word coffee directly from the Arabic qahwah, and quoted from Hobson-Jobson in support of this:

Chaoua in 1598, Cahoa in 1610, Cahue in 1615; while Sir Thomas Herbert (1638) expressly states that "they drink (in Persia) ... above all the rest, Coho or Copha: by Turk and Arab called Caphe and Cahua." Here the Persian, Turkish, and Arabic pronunciations are clearly differentiated.

Col. Prideaux then calls, as a witness to the Anglo-Arabic pronunciation, one whose evidence was not available when the New English Dictionary and Hobson-Jobson articles were written. This is John Jourdain, a Dorsetshire seaman, whose Diary was printed by the Hakluyt Society in 1905. On May 28, 1609, he records that "in the[Pg 2] afternoone wee departed out of Hatch (Al-Hauta, the capital of the Lahej district near Aden), and travelled untill three in the morninge, and then wee rested in the plaine fields untill three the next daie, neere unto a cohoo howse in the desert." On June 5 the party, traveling from Hippa (Ibb), "laye in the mountaynes, our camells being wearie, and our selves little better. This mountain is called Nasmarde (Nakīl Sumāra), where all the cohoo grows." Farther on was "a little village, where there is sold cohoo and fruite. The seeds of this cohoo is a greate marchandize, for it is carried to grand Cairo and all other places of Turkey, and to the Indias." Prideaux, however, mentions that another sailor, William Revett, in his journal (1609) says, referring to Mocha, that "Shaomer Shadli (Shaikh 'Ali bin 'Omar esh-Shādil) was the fyrst inventour for drynking of coffe, and therefor had in esteemation." This rather looks to Prideaux as if on the coast of Arabia, and in the mercantile towns, the Persian pronunciation was in vogue; whilst in the interior, where Jourdain traveled, the Englishman reproduced the Arabic.

Mr. Chattopádhyáya, discussing Col. Prideaux's views as expressed above, said:

Col. Prideaux may doubt "if the worthy mariner, in entering the word in his log, was influenced by the abstruse principles of phonetics enunciated" by me, but he will admit that the change from kahvah to coffee is a phonetic change, and must be due to the operation of some phonetic principle. The average man, when he endeavours to write a foreign word in his own tongue, is handicapped considerably by his inherited and acquired phonetic capacity. And, in fact, if we take the quotations made in "Hobson-Jobson," and classify the various forms of the word coffee according to the nationality of the writer, we obtain very interesting results.

Let us take Englishmen and Dutchmen first. In Danvers's Letters (1611) we have both "coho pots" and "coffao pots"; Sir T. Roe (1615) and Terry (1616) have cohu; Sir T. Herbert (1638) has coho and copha; Evelyn (1637), coffee; Fryer (1673) coho; Ovington (1690), coffee; and Valentijn (1726), coffi. And from the two examples given by Col. Prideaux, we see that Jourdain (1609) has cohoo, and Revett (1609) has coffe.

To the above should be added the following by English writers, given in Foster's English Factories in India (1618–21, 1622–23, 1624–29): cowha (1619), cowhe, couha (1621), coffa (1628).

Let us now see what foreigners (chiefly French and Italian) write. The earliest European mention is by Rauwolf, who knew it in Aleppo in 1573. He has the form chaube. Prospero Alpini (1580) has caova; Paludanus (1598) chaoua; Pyrard de Laval (1610) cahoa; P. Della Valle (1615) cahue; Jac. Bontius (1631) caveah; and the Journal d'Antoine Galland (1673) cave. That is, Englishmen use forms of a certain distinct type, viz., cohu, coho, coffao, coffe, copha, coffee, which differ from the more correct transliteration of foreigners.

In 1610 the Portuguese Jew, Pedro Teixeira (in the Hakluyt Society's edition of his Travels) used the word kavàh.

The inferences from these transitional forms seem to be: 1. The word found its way into the languages of Europe both from the Turkish and from the Arabic. 2. The English forms (which have strong stress on the first syllable) have ŏ instead of ă, and f instead of h. 3. The foreign forms are unstressed and have no h. The original v or w (or labialized u) is retained or changed into f.

It may be stated, accordingly, that the chief reason for the existence of two distinct types of spelling is the omission of h in unstressed languages, and the conversion of h into f under strong stress in stressed languages. Such conversion often takes place in Turkish; for example, silah dar in Persian (which is a highly stressed language) becomes zilif dar in Turkish. In the languages of India, on the other hand, in spite of the fact that the aspirate is usually very clearly sounded, the word qăhvăh is pronounced kaiva by the less educated classes, owing to the syllables being equally stressed.

Now for the French viewpoint. Jardin[3] opines that, as regards the etymology of the word coffee, scholars are not agreed and perhaps never will be. Dufour[4] says the word is derived from caouhe, a name given by the Turks to the beverage prepared from the seed. Chevalier d'Arvieux, French consul at Alet, Savary, and Trevoux, in his dictionary, think that coffee comes from the Arabic, but from the word cahoueh or quaweh, meaning to give vigor or strength, because, says d'Arvieux, its most general effect is to fortify and strengthen. Tavernier combats this opinion. Moseley attributes the origin of the word coffee to Kaffa. Sylvestre de Sacy, in his Chréstomathie[Pg 3] Arabe, published in 1806, thinks that the word kahwa, synonymous with makli, roasted in a stove, might very well be the etymology of the word coffee. D'Alembert in his encyclopedic dictionary, writes the word caffé. Jardin concludes that whatever there may be in these various etymologies, it remains a fact that the word coffee comes from an Arabian word, whether it be kahua, kahoueh, kaffa or kahwa, and that the peoples who have adopted the drink have all modified the Arabian word to suit their pronunciation. This is shown by giving the word as written in various modern languages:

French, café; Breton, kafe; German, kaffee (coffee tree, kaffeebaum); Dutch, koffie (coffee tree, koffieboonen); Danish, kaffe; Finnish, kahvi; Hungarian, kavé; Bohemian, kava; Polish, kawa; Roumanian, cafea; Croatian, kafa; Servian, kava; Russian, kophe; Swedish, kaffe; Spanish, café; Basque, kaffia; Italian, caffè; Portuguese, café; Latin (scientific), coffea; Turkish, kahué; Greek, kaféo; Arabic, qahwah (coffee berry, bun); Persian, qéhvé (coffee berry, bun[5]); Annamite, ca-phé; Cambodian, kafé; Dukni[6], bunbund[7]; Teluyan[8], kapri-vittulu; Tamil[9], kapi-kottai or kopi; Canareze[10], kapi-bija; Chinese, kia-fey, teoutsé; Japanese, kéhi; Malayan, kawa, koppi; Abyssinian, bonn[11]; Foulak, legal café[12]; Sousou, houri caff[13]; Marquesan, kapi; Chinook[14], kaufee; Volapuk, kaf; Esperanto, kafva.

Coffee Pot

[Pg 4]


[Pg 5]

Chapter II


A brief account of the cultivation of the coffee plant in the Old World and its introduction into the New—A romantic coffee adventure

The history of the propagation of the coffee plant is closely interwoven with that of the early history of coffee drinking, but for the purposes of this chapter we shall consider only the story of the inception and growth of the cultivation of the coffee tree, or shrub, bearing the seeds, or berries, from which the drink, coffee, is made.

Careful research discloses that most authorities agree that the coffee plant is indigenous to Abyssinia, and probably Arabia, whence its cultivation spread throughout the tropics. The first reliable mention of the properties and uses of the plant is by an Arabian physician toward the close of the ninth century A.D., and it is reasonable to suppose that before that time the plant was found growing wild in Abyssinia and perhaps in Arabia. If it be true, as Ludolphus writes,[15] that the Abyssinians came out of Arabia into Ethiopia in the early ages, it is possible that they may have brought the coffee tree with them; but the Arabians must still be given the credit for discovering and promoting the use of the beverage, and also for promoting the propagation of the plant, even if they found it in Abyssinia and brought it to Yemen.

Some authorities believe that the first cultivation of coffee in Yemen dates back to 575 A.D., when the Persian invasion put an end to the Ethiopian rule of the negus Caleb, who conquered the country in 525.

Certainly the discovery of the beverage resulted in the cultivation of the plant in Abyssinia and in Arabia; but its progress was slow until the 15th and 16th centuries, when it appears as intensively carried on in the Yemen district of Arabia. The Arabians were jealous of their new found and lucrative industry, and for a time successfully prevented its spread to other countries by not permitting any of the precious berries to leave the country unless they had first been steeped in boiling water or parched, so as to destroy their powers of germination. It may be that many of the early failures successfully to introduce the cultivation of the coffee plant into other lands was also due to the fact, discovered later, that the seeds soon lose their germinating power.

However, it was not possible to watch every avenue of transport, with thousands of pilgrims journeying to and from Mecca every year; and so there would appear to be some reason to credit the Indian tradition concerning the introduction of coffee cultivation into southern India by Baba Budan, a Moslem pilgrim, as early as 1600, although a better authority gives the date as 1695. Indian tradition relates that Baba Budan planted his seeds near the hut he built for himself at Chickmaglur in the mountains of Mysore, where, only a few years since, the writer found the descendants of these first plants growing under the shade of the centuries-old original jungle trees. The greater part of the plants cultivated by the natives of Kurg and Mysore appear to have come from the Baba Budan importation. It was not until 1840 that the English began the cultivation of coffee in India. The plantations extend now from the extreme north of Mysore to Tuticorin.

Early Cultivation by the Dutch

In the latter part of the 16th century, German, Italian, and Dutch botanists and[Pg 6] travelers brought back from the Levant considerable information regarding the new plant and the beverage. In 1614 enterprising Dutch traders began to examine into the possibilities of coffee cultivation and coffee trading. In 1616 a coffee plant was successfully transported from Mocha to Holland. In 1658 the Dutch started the cultivation of coffee in Ceylon, although the Arabs are said to have brought the plant to the island prior to 1505. In 1670 an attempt was made to cultivate coffee on European soil at Dijon, France, but the result was a failure.

In 1696, at the instigation of Nicolaas Witsen, then burgomaster of Amsterdam, Adrian Van Ommen, commander at Malabar, India, caused to be shipped from Kananur, Malabar, to Java, the first coffee plants introduced into that island. They were grown from seed of the Coffea arabica brought to Malabar from Arabia. They were planted by Governor-General Willem Van Outshoorn on the Kedawoeng estate near Batavia, but were subsequently lost by earthquake and flood. In 1699 Henricus Zwaardecroon imported some slips, or cuttings, of coffee trees from Malabar into Java. These were more successful, and became the progenitors of all the coffees of the Dutch East Indies. The Dutch were then taking the lead in the propagation of the coffee plant.

In 1706 the first samples of Java coffee, and a coffee plant grown in Java, were received at the Amsterdam botanical gardens. Many plants were afterward propagated from the seeds produced in the Amsterdam gardens, and these were distributed to some of the best known botanical gardens and private conservatories in Europe.

While the Dutch were extending the cultivation of the plant to Sumatra, the Celebes, Timor, Bali, and other islands of the Netherlands Indies, the French were seeking to introduce coffee cultivation into their colonies. Several attempts were made to transfer young plants from the Amsterdam botanical gardens to the botanical gardens at Paris; but all were failures.

In 1714, however, as a result of negotiations entered into between the French government and the municipality of Amsterdam, a young and vigorous plant about five feet tall was sent to Louis XIV at the chateau of Marly by the burgomaster of Amsterdam. The day following, it was transferred to the Jardin des Plantes at Paris, where it was received with appropriate ceremonies by Antoine de Jussieu, professor of botany in charge. This tree was destined to be the progenitor of most of the coffees of the French colonies, as well as of those of South America, Central America, and Mexico.

The Romance of Captain Gabriel de Clieu

Two unsuccessful attempts were made to transport to the Antilles plants grown from the seed of the tree presented to Louis XIV; but the honor of eventual success was won by a young Norman gentleman, Gabriel Mathieu de Clieu, a naval officer, serving at the time as captain of infantry at Martinique. The story of de Clieu's achievement is the most romantic chapter in the history of the propagation of the coffee plant.

His personal affairs calling him to France, de Clieu conceived the idea of utilizing the return voyage to introduce coffee cultivation into Martinique. His first difficulty lay in obtaining several of the plants then being cultivated in Paris, a difficulty at last overcome through the instrumentality of M. de Chirac, royal physician, or, according to a letter written by de Clieu himself, through the kindly offices of a lady of quality to whom de Chirac could give no refusal. The plants selected were kept at Rochefort by M. Bégon, commissary of the department, until the departure of de Clieu for Martinique. Concerning the exact date of de Clieu's arrival at Martinique with the coffee plant, or plants, there is much conflict of opinion. Some authorities give the date as 1720, others 1723. Jardin[16] suggests that the discrepancy in dates may arise from de Clieu, with praiseworthy perseverance, having made the voyage twice. The first time, according to Jardin, the plants perished; but the second time de Clieu had planted the seeds when leaving France and these survived, "due, they say, to his having given of his scanty ration of water to moisten them." No reference to a preceding voyage, however, is made by de Clieu in his own account, given in a letter written to the Année Littéraire[17] in 1774. There is also a difference of opinion as to whether de Clieu arrived with one or three plants. He himself says "one" in the letter referred to.

According to the most trustworthy data, de Clieu embarked at Nantes, 1723.[18] He[Pg 7] had installed his precious plant in a box covered with a glass frame in order to absorb the rays of the sun and thus better to retain the stored-up heat for cloudy days. Among the passengers one man, envious of the young officer, did all in his power to wrest from him the glory of success. Fortunately his dastardly attempt failed of its intended effect.

"It is useless," writes de Clieu in his letter to the Année Littéraire, "to recount in detail the infinite care that I was obliged to bestow upon this delicate plant during a long voyage, and the difficulties I had in saving it from the hands of a man who, basely jealous of the joy I was about to taste through being of service to my country, and being unable to get this coffee plant away from me, tore off a branch."

Captain de Clieu Shares His Drinking Water With the
Coffee Plant He Is Carrying to Martinique Captain de Clieu Shares His Drinking Water With the Coffee Plant He Is Carrying to Martinique

The vessel carrying de Clieu was a merchantman, and many were the trials that beset passengers and crew. Narrowly escaping capture by a corsair of Tunis, menaced by a violent tempest that threatened to annihilate them, they finally encountered a calm that proved more appalling than either. The supply of drinking water was well nigh exhausted, and what was left was rationed for the remainder of the voyage.

"Water was lacking to such an extent," says de Clieu, "that for more than a month I was obliged to share the scanty ration of it assigned to me with this my coffee plant upon which my happiest hopes were founded and which was the source of my delight. It needed such succor the more in that it was extremely backward, being no larger than the slip of a pink." Many stories have been written and verses sung recording and glorifying this generous sacrifice that has given luster to the name of de Clieu.

Arrived in Martinique, de Clieu planted his precious slip on his estate in Prêcheur, one of the cantons of the island; where, says Raynal, "it multiplied with extraordinary rapidity and success." From the seedlings of this plant came most of the coffee trees of the Antilles. The first harvest was gathered in 1726.

De Clieu himself describes his arrival as follows:

Arriving at home, my first care was to set out my plant with great attention in the part of my garden most favorable to its growth. Although keeping it in view, I feared many times that it would be taken from me; and I was at last obliged to surround it with thorn bushes and to establish a guard about it until it arrived at maturity ... this precious plant which had become still more dear to me for the dangers it had run and the cares it had cost me.

Thus the little stranger thrived in a distant land, guarded day and night by faithful slaves. So tiny a plant to produce in the end all the rich estates of the West India islands and the regions bordering on the Gulf of Mexico! What luxuries, what future comforts and delights, resulted from this one small talent confided to the care of a man of rare vision and fine intellectual sympathy, fired by the spirit of real love for his fellows! There is no instance in the history of the French people of a good deed done by stealth being of greater service to humanity.

De Clieu thus describes the events that followed fast upon the introduction of[Pg 8] coffee into Martinique, with particular reference to the earthquake of 1727:

Success exceeded my hopes. I gathered about two pounds of seed which I distributed among all those whom I thought most capable of giving the plants the care necessary to their prosperity.

The first harvest was very abundant; with the second it was possible to extend the cultivation prodigiously, but what favored multiplication, most singularly, was the fact that two years afterward all the cocoa trees of the country, which were the resource and occupation of the people, were uprooted and totally destroyed by horrible tempests accompanied by an inundation which submerged all the land where these trees were planted, land which was at once made into coffee plantations by the natives. These did marvelously and enabled us to send plants to Santo Domingo, Guadeloupe, and other adjacent islands, where since that time they have been cultivated with the greatest success.

By 1777 there were 18,791,680 coffee trees in Martinique.

De Clieu was born in Angléqueville-sur-Saane, Seine-Inférieure (Normandy), in 1686 or 1688.[19] In 1705 he was a ship's ensign; in 1718 he became a chevalier of St. Louis; in 1720 he was made a captain of infantry; in 1726, a major of infantry; in 1733 he was a ship's lieutenant; in 1737 he became governor of Guadeloupe; in 1746 he was a ship's captain; in 1750 he was made honorary commander of the order of St. Louis; in 1752 he retired with a pension of 6000 francs; in 1753 he re-entered the naval service; in 1760 he again retired with a pension of 2000 francs.

In 1746 de Clieu, having returned to France, was presented to Louis XV by the minister of marine, Rouillé de Jour, as "a distinguished officer to whom the colonies, as well as France itself, and commerce generally, are indebted for the cultivation of coffee."

Reports to the king in 1752 and 1759 recall his having carried the first coffee plant to Martinique, and that he had ever been distinguished for his zeal and disinterestedness. In the Mercure de France, December, 1774, was the following death notice:

Gabriel d'Erchigny de Clieu, former Ship's Captain and Honorary Commander of the Royal and Military Order of Saint Louis, died in Paris on the 30th of November in the 88th year of his age.

A notice of his death appeared also in the Gazette de France for December 5, 1774, a rare honor in both cases; and it has been said that at this time his praise was again on every lip.

One French historian, Sidney Daney,[20] records that de Clieu died in poverty at St. Pierre at the age of 97; but this must be an error, although it does not anywhere appear that at his death he was possessed of much, if any, means. Daney says:

This generous man received as his sole recompense for a noble deed the satisfaction of seeing this plant for whose preservation he had shown such devotion, prosper throughout the Antilles. The illustrious de Clieu is among those to whom Martinique owes a brilliant reparation.

Daney tells also that in 1804 there was a movement in Martinique to erect a monument upon the spot where de Clieu planted his first coffee plant, but that the undertaking came to naught.

Pardon, in his La Martinique says:

Honor to this brave man! He has deserved it from the people of two hemispheres. His name is worthy of a place beside that of Parmentier who carried to France the potato of Canada. These two men have rendered immense service to humanity, and their memory should never be forgotten—yet alas! Are they even remembered?

Tussac, in his Flora de las Antillas, writing of de Clieu, says, "Though no monument be erected to this beneficent traveler, yet his name should remain engraved in the heart of every colonist."

In 1774 the Année Littéraire published a long poem in de Clieu's honor. In the feuilleton of the Gazette de France, April 12, 1816, we read that M. Donns, a wealthy Hollander, and a coffee connoisseur, sought to honor de Clieu by having painted upon a porcelain service all the details of his voyage and its happy results. "I have seen the cups," says the writer, who gives many details and the Latin inscription.

That singer of navigation, Esménard, has pictured de Clieu's devotion in the following lines:

Forget not how de Clieu with his light vessel's sail,
Brought distant Moka's gift—that timid plant and frail.
The waves fell suddenly, young zephyrs breathed no more,
Beneath fierce Cancer's fires behold the fountain store,
Exhausted, fails; while now inexorable need
Makes her unpitying law—with measured dole obeyed.

Now each soul fears to prove Tantalus torment first.
De Clieu alone defies: While still that fatal thirst,
[Pg 9]Fierce, stifling, day by day his noble strength devours,
And still a heaven of brass inflames the burning hours.
With that refreshing draught his life he will not cheer;
But drop by drop revives the plant he holds more dear.
Already as in dreams, he sees great branches grow,
One look at his dear plant assuages all his woe.

The only memorial to de Clieu in Martinique is the botanical garden at Fort de France, which was opened in 1918 and dedicated to de Clieu, "whose memory has been too long left in oblivion.[21]"

In 1715 coffee cultivation was first introduced into Haiti and Santo Domingo. Later came hardier plants from Martinique. In 1715–17 the French Company of the Indies introduced the cultivation of the plant into the Isle of Bourbon (now Réunion) by a ship captain named Dufougeret-Grenier from St. Malo. It did so well that nine years later the island began to export coffee.

The Dutch brought the cultivation of coffee to Surinam in 1718. The first coffee plantation in Brazil was started at Pará in 1723 with plants brought from French Guiana, but it was not a success. The English brought the plant to Jamaica in 1730. In 1740 Spanish missionaries introduced coffee cultivation into the Philippines from Java. In 1748 Don José Antonio Gelabert introduced coffee into Cuba, bringing the seed from Santo Domingo. In 1750 the Dutch extended the cultivation of the plant to the Celebes. Coffee was introduced into Guatemala about 1750–60. The intensive cultivation in Brazil dates from the efforts begun in the Portuguese colonies in Pará and Amazonas in 1752. Porto Rico began the cultivation of coffee about 1755. In 1760 João Alberto Castello Branco brought to Rio de Janeiro a coffee tree from Goa, Portuguese India. The news spread that the soil and climate of Brazil were particularly adapted to the cultivation of coffee. Molke, a Belgian monk, presented some seeds to the Capuchin monastery at Rio in 1774. Later, the bishop of Rio, Joachim Bruno, became a patron of the plant and encouraged its propagation in Rio, Minãs, Espirito Santo, and São Paulo. The Spanish voyager, Don Francisco Xavier Navarro, is credited with the introduction of coffee into Costa Rica from Cuba in 1779. In Venezuela the industry was started near Caracas by a priest, José Antonio Mohedano, with seed brought from Martinique in 1784.

Coffee cultivation in Mexico began in 1790, the seed being brought from the West Indies. In 1817 Don Juan Antonio Gomez instituted intensive cultivation in the State of Vera Cruz. In 1825 the cultivation of the plant was begun in the Hawaiian Islands with seeds from Rio de Janeiro. As previously noted, the English began to cultivate coffee in India in 1840. In 1852 coffee cultivation was begun in Salvador with plants brought from Cuba. In 1878 the English began the propagation of coffee in British Central Africa, but it was not until 1901 that coffee cultivation was introduced into British East Africa from Réunion. In 1887 the French introduced the plant into Tonkin, Indo-China. Coffee growing in Queensland, introduced in 1896, has been successful in a small way.

In recent years several attempts have been made to propagate the coffee plant in the southern United States, but without success. It is believed, however, that the topographic and climatic conditions in southern California are favorable for its cultivation.

Coffee Pot

[Pg 10]

Omar and the Marvelous Coffee Bird Omar and the Marvelous Coffee Bird

Kaldi and His Dancing Goats
Kaldi and His Dancing Goats
From drawings by a modern French artist

[Pg 11]

Chapter III


Coffee in the Near East in the early centuries—Stories of its origin—Discovery by physicians and adoption by the Church—Its spread through Arabia, Persia and Turkey—Persecutions and intolerances—Early coffee manners and customs

The coffee drink had its rise in the classical period of Arabian medicine, which dates from Rhazes (Abu Bakr Muhammad ibn Zakariya El Razi) who followed the doctrines of Galen and sat at the feet of Hippocrates. Rhazes (850–922) was the first to treat medicine in an encyclopedic manner, and, according to some authorities, the first writer to mention coffee. He assumed the poetical name of Razi because he was a native of the city of Raj in Persian Irak. He was a great philosopher and astronomer, and at one time was superintendent of the hospital at Bagdad. He wrote many learned books on medicine and surgery, but his principal work is Al-Haiwi, or The Continent, a collection of everything relating to the cure of disease from Galen to his own time.

Philippe Sylvestre Dufour (1622–87)[22], a French coffee merchant, philosopher, and writer, in an accurate and finished treatise on coffee, tells us (see the early edition of the work translated from the Latin) that the first writer to mention the properties of the coffee bean under the name of bunchum was this same Rhazes, "in the ninth century after the birth of our Saviour"; from which (if true) it would appear that coffee has been known for upwards of 1000 years. Robinson[23], however, is of the opinion that bunchum meant something else and had nothing to do with coffee. Dufour, himself, in a later edition of his Traitez Nouveaux et Curieux du Café (the Hague, 1693) is inclined to admit that bunchum may have been a root and not coffee, after all; however, he is careful to add that there is no doubt that the Arabs knew coffee as far back as the year 800. Other, more modern authorities, place it as early as the sixth century.

Wiji Kawih is mentioned in a Kavi (Javan) inscription A.D. 856; and it is thought that the "bean broth" in David Tapperi's list of Javanese beverages (1667–82) may have been coffee[24].

While the true origin of coffee drinking may be forever hidden among the mysteries of the purple East, shrouded as it is in legend and fable, scholars have marshaled sufficient facts to prove that the beverage was known in Ethiopia "from time immemorial," and there is much to add verisimilitude to Dufour's narrative. This first coffee merchant-prince, skilled in languages and polite learning, considered that his character as a merchant was not inconsistent with that of an author; and he even went so far as to say there were some things (for instance, coffee) on which a merchant could be better informed than a philosopher.

Granting that by bunchum Rhazes meant coffee, the plant and the drink must have been known to his immediate followers; and this, indeed, seems to be indicated by similar references in the writings of Avicenna (Ibn Sina), the Mohammedan physician and philosopher, who lived from 980 to 1037 A.D.

[Pg 12]

Rhazes, in the quaint language of Dufour, assures us that "bunchum (coffee) is hot and dry and very good for the stomach." Avicenna explains the medicinal properties and uses of the coffee bean (bon or bunn), which he, also, calls bunchum, after this fashion:

As to the choice thereof, that of a lemon color, light, and of a good smell, is the best; the white and the heavy is naught. It is hot and dry in the first degree, and, according to others, cold in the first degree. It fortifies the members, it cleans the skin, and dries up the humidities that are under it, and gives an excellent smell to all the body.

The early Arabians called the bean and the tree that bore it, bunn; the drink, bunchum. A. Galland[25] (1646–1715), the French Orientalist who first analyzed and translated from the Arabic the Abd-al-Kâdir manuscript[26], the oldest document extant telling of the origin of coffee, observes that Avicenna speaks of the bunn, or coffee; as do also Prospero Alpini and Veslingius (Vesling). Bengiazlah, another great physician, contemporary with Avicenna, likewise mentions coffee; by which, says Galland, one may see that we are indebted to physicians for the discovery of coffee, as well as of sugar, tea, and chocolate.

Rauwolf[27] (d. 1596), German physician and botanist, and the first European to mention coffee, who became acquainted with the beverage in Aleppo in 1573, telling how the drink was prepared by the Turks, says:

In this same water they take a fruit called Bunnu, which in its bigness, shape, and color is almost like unto a bayberry, with two thin shells surrounded, which, as they informed me, are brought from the Indies; but as these in themselves are, and have within them, two yellowish grains in two distinct cells, and besides, being they agree in their virtue, figure, looks, and name with the Bunchum of Avicenna and Bunco, of Rasis ad Almans exactly: therefore I take them to be the same.

In Dr. Edward Pocoke's translation (Oxford, 1659) of The Nature of the Drink Kauhi, or Coffee, and the Berry of which it is Made, Described by an Arabian Phisitian, we read:

Bun is a plant in Yaman [Yemen], which is planted in Adar, and groweth up and is gathered in Ab. It is about a cubit high, on a stalk about the thickness of one's thumb. It flowers white, leaving a berry like a small nut, but that sometimes it is broad like a bean; and when it is peeled, parteth in two. The best of it is that which is weighty and yellow; the worst, that which is black. It is hot in the first degree, dry in the second: it is usually reported to be cold and dry, but it is not so; for it is bitter, and whatsoever is bitter is hot. It may be that the scorce is hot, and the Bun it selfe either of equall temperature, or cold in the first degree.

That which makes for its coldnesse is its stipticknesse. In summer it is by experience found to conduce to the drying of rheumes, and flegmatick coughes and distillations, and the opening of obstructions, and the provocation of urin. It is now known by the name of Kohwah. When it is dried and thoroughly boyled, it allayes the ebullition of the blood, is good against the small poxe and measles, the bloudy pimples; yet causeth vertiginous headheach, and maketh lean much, occasioneth waking, and the Emrods, and asswageth lust, and sometimes breeds melancholly.

He that would drink it for livelinesse sake, and to discusse slothfulnesse, and the other properties that we have mentioned, let him use much sweat meates with it, and oyle of pistaccioes, and butter. Some drink it with milk, but it is an error, and such as may bring in danger of the leprosy.

Dufour concludes that the coffee beans of commerce are the same as the bunchum (bunn) described by Avicenna and the bunca (bunchum) of Rhazes. In this he agrees, almost word for word, with Rauwolf, indicating no change in opinion among the learned in a hundred years.

Christopher Campen thinks Hippocrates, father of medicine, knew and administered coffee.

Robinson, commenting upon the early adoption of coffee into materia medica, charges that it was a mistake on the part of the Arab physicians, and that it originated the prejudice that caused coffee to be regarded as a powerful drug instead of as a simple and refreshing beverage.

Homer, the Bible, and Coffee

In early Grecian and Roman writings no mention is made of either the coffee plant or the beverage made from the berries. Pierre (Pietro) Delia Valle[28] (1586–1652), however, maintains that the nepenthe, which Homer says Helen brought with her out of Egypt, and which she employed as surcease for sorrow, was nothing else but coffee mixed with wine.[29] This is disputed by M. Petit, a well known physician of Paris, who died in 1687. Several later British authors, among them, Sandys, the[Pg 13] poet; Burton; and Sir Henry Blount, have suggested the probability of coffee being the "black broth" of the Lacedæmonians.

George Paschius, in his Latin treatise of the New Discoveries Made since the Time of the Ancients, printed at Leipsic in 1700, says he believes that coffee was meant by the five measures of parched corn included among the presents Abigail made to David to appease his wrath, as recorded in the Bible, 1 Samuel, xxv, 18. The Vulgate translates the Hebrew words sein kali into sata polentea, which signify wheat, roasted, or dried by fire.

Title Page of Dufour's Book, Edition of 1693 Title Page of Dufour's Book, Edition of 1693

Pierre Étienne Louis Dumant, the Swiss Protestant minister and author, is of the opinion that coffee (and not lentils, as others have supposed) was the red pottage for which Esau sold his birthright; also that the parched grain that Boaz ordered to be given Ruth was undoubtedly roasted coffee berries.

Dufour mentions as a possible objection against coffee that "the use and eating of beans were heretofore forbidden by Pythagoras," but intimates that the coffee bean of Arabia is something different.

Scheuzer,[30] in his Physique Sacrée, says "the Turks and the Arabs make with the coffee bean a beverage which bears the same name, and many persons use as a substitute the flour of roasted barley." From this we learn that the coffee substitute is almost as old as coffee itself.

Some Early Legends

After medicine, the church. There are several Mohammedan traditions that have persisted through the centuries, claiming for "the faithful" the honor and glory of the first use of coffee as a beverage. One of these relates how, about 1258 A.D., Sheik Omar, a disciple of Sheik Abou'l hasan Schadheli, patron saint and legendary founder of Mocha, by chance discovered the coffee drink at Ousab in Arabia, whither he had been exiled for a certain moral remissness.

Facing starvation, he and his followers were forced to feed upon the berries growing around them. And then, in the words of the faithful Arab chronicle in the Bibliothéque Nationale at Paris, "having nothing to eat except coffee, they took of it and boiled it in a saucepan and drank of the decoction." Former patients in Mocha who sought out the good doctor-priest in his Ousab retreat, for physic with which to cure their ills, were given some of this decoction, with beneficial effect. As a result of the stories of its magical properties, carried back to the city, Sheik Omar was invited to return in triumph to Mocha where the governor caused to be built a monastery for him and his companions.

Another version of this Oriental legend gives it as follows:

The dervish Hadji Omar was driven by his enemies out of Mocha into the desert, where they expected he would die of starvation. This undoubtedly would have occurred if he had not plucked up courage to taste some strange berries which he found growing on a shrub. While they seemed to be edible, they were very bitter; and[Pg 14] he tried to improve the taste by roasting them. He found, however, that they had become very hard, so he attempted to soften them with water. The berries seemed to remain as hard as before, but the liquid turned brown, and Omar drank it on the chance that it contained some of the nourishment from the berries. He was amazed at how it refreshed him, enlivened his sluggishness, and raised his drooping spirits. Later, when he returned to Mocha, his salvation was considered a miracle. The beverage to which it was due sprang into high favor, and Omar himself was made a saint.

A popular and much-quoted version of Omar's discovery of coffee, also based upon the Abd-al-Kâdir manuscript, is the following:

In the year of the Hegira 656, the mollah Schadheli went on a pilgrimage to Mecca. Arriving at the mountain of the Emeralds (Ousab), he turned to his disciple Omar and said: "I shall die in this place. When my soul has gone forth, a veiled person will appear to you. Do not fail to execute the command which he will give you."

The venerable Schadheli being dead, Omar saw in the middle of the night a gigantic specter covered by a white veil.

"Who are you?" he asked.

The phantom drew back his veil, and Omar saw with surprise Schadheli himself, grown ten cubits since his death. The mollah dug in the ground, and water miraculously appeared. The spirit of his teacher bade Omar fill a bowl with the water and to proceed on his way and not to stop till he reached the spot where the water would stop moving.

"It is there," he added, "that a great destiny awaits you."

Omar started his journey. Arriving at Mocha in Yemen, he noticed that the water was immovable. It was here that he must stop.

The beautiful village of Mocha was then ravaged by the plague. Omar began to pray for the sick and, as the saintly man was close to Mahomet, many found themselves cured by his prayers.

The plague meanwhile progressing, the daughter of the King of Mocha fell ill and her father had her carried to the home of the dervish who cured her. But as this young princess was of rare beauty, after having cured her, the good dervish tried to carry her off. The king did not fancy this new kind of reward. Omar was driven from the city and exiled on the mountain of Ousab, with herbs for food and a cave for a home.

"Oh, Schadheli, my dear master," cried the unfortunate dervish one day; "if the things which happened to me at Mocha were destined, was it worth the trouble to give me a bowl to come here?"

To these just complaints, there was heard immediately a song of incomparable harmony, and a bird of marvelous plumage came to rest in a tree. Omar sprang forward quickly toward the little bird which sang so well, but then he saw on the branches of the tree only flowers and fruit. Omar laid hands on the fruit, and found it delicious. Then he filled his great pockets with it and went back to his cave. As he was preparing to boil a few herbs for his dinner, the idea came to him of substituting for this sad soup, some of his harvested fruit. From it he obtained a savory and perfumed drink; it was coffee.

The Italian Journal of the Savants for the year 1760 says that two monks, Scialdi and Ayduis, were the first to discover the properties of coffee, and for this reason became the object of special prayers. "Was not this Scialdi identical with the Sheik Schadheli?" asks Jardin.[31]

The most popular legend ascribes the discovery of the drink to an Arabian herdsman in upper Egypt, or Abyssinia, who complained to the abbot of a neighboring monastery that the goats confided to his care became unusually frolicsome after eating the berries of certain shrubs found near their feeding grounds. The abbot, having observed the fact, determined to try the virtues of the berries on himself. He, too, responded with a new exhilaration. Accordingly, he directed that some be boiled, and the decoction drunk by his monks, who thereafter found no difficulty in keeping awake during the religious services of the night. The abbé Massieu in his poem, Carmen Caffaeum, thus celebrates the event:

The monks each in turn, as the evening draws near,
Drink 'round the great cauldron—a circle of cheer!
And the dawn in amaze, revisiting that shore,
On idle beds of ease surprised them nevermore!

According to the legend, the news of the "wakeful monastery" spread rapidly, and the magical berry soon "came to be in request throughout the whole kingdom; and in progress of time other nations and provinces of the East fell into the use of it."

The French have preserved the following picturesque version of this legend:

A young goatherd named Kaldi noticed one day that his goats, whose deportment up to that time had been irreproachable, were abandoning themselves to the most extravagant prancings. The venerable buck, ordinarily so dignified and solemn, bounded about like a young kid. Kaldi attributed this foolish gaiety to certain fruits of which the goats had been eating with delight.

The story goes that the poor fellow had a heavy heart; and in the hope of cheering himself up a little, he thought he would pick and eat of the fruit. The experiment succeeded marvelously. He forgot his troubles and became the happiest herder in happy Arabia. When the goats danced, he gaily made himself one of the[Pg 15] party, and entered into their fun with admirable spirit.

One day, a monk chanced to pass by and stopped in surprise to find a ball going on. A score of goats were executing lively pirouettes like a ladies' chain, while the buck solemnly balancé-ed, and the herder went through the figures of an eccentric pastoral dance.

The astonished monk inquired the cause of this saltatorial madness; and Kaldi told him of his precious discovery.

Now, this poor monk had a great sorrow; he always went to sleep in the middle of his prayers; and he reasoned that Mohammed without doubt was revealing this marvelous fruit to him to overcome his sleepiness.

Frontispiece from Dufour's work Arab Drinking Coffee; Chinaman, Tea; and Indian, Chocolate

Frontispiece from Dufour's work

Piety does not exclude gastronomic instincts. Those of our good monk were more than ordinary; because he thought of drying and boiling the fruit of the herder. This ingenious concoction gave us coffee. Immediately all the monks of the realm made use of the drink, because it encouraged them to pray and, perhaps, also because it was not disagreeable.

In those early days it appears that the drink was prepared in two ways; one in which the decoction was made from the hull and the pulp surrounding the bean, and the other from the bean itself. The roasting process came later and is an improvement generally credited to the Persians. There is evidence that the early Mohammedan churchmen were seeking a substitute for the wine forbidden to them by the Koran, when they discovered coffee. The word for coffee in Arabic, qahwah, is the same as one of those used for wine; and later on, when coffee drinking grew so popular as to threaten the very life of the church itself, this similarity was seized upon by the church-leaders to support their contention that the prohibition against wine applied also to coffee.

La Roque,[32] writing in 1715, says that the Arabian word cahouah signified at first only wine; but later was turned into a generic term applied to all kinds of drink. "So there were really three sorts of coffee; namely, wine, including all intoxicating liquors; the drink made with the shells, or cods, of the coffee bean; and that made from the bean itself."

Originally, then, the coffee drink may have been a kind of wine made from the coffee fruit. In the coffee countries even today the natives are very fond, and eat freely, of the ripe coffee cherries, voiding the seeds. The pulp surrounding the coffee seeds (beans) is pleasant to taste, has a sweetish, aromatic flavor, and quickly ferments when allowed to stand.

Still another tradition (was the wish father to the thought?) tells how the coffee drink was revealed to Mohammed himself by the Angel Gabriel. Coffee's partisans found satisfaction in a passage in the Koran which, they said, foretold its adoption by the followers of the Prophet:

They shall be given to drink an excellent wine, sealed; its seal is that of the musk.

The most diligent research does not carry a knowledge of coffee back beyond the time of Rhazes, two hundred years after Mohammed; so there is little more than speculation or conjecture to support the theory that it was known to the ancients, in Bible times or in the days of The Praised One. Our knowledge of tea, on the other hand, antedates the Christian era. We know also that tea was intensively cultivated[Pg 16] and taxed under the Tang dynasty in China, A.D. 793, and that Arab traders knew of it in the following century.

The First Reliable Coffee Date

About 1454 Sheik Gemaleddin Abou Muhammad Bensaid, mufti of Aden, surnamed Aldhabani, from Dhabhan, a small town where he was born, became acquainted with the virtues of coffee on a journey into Abyssinia.[33] Upon his return to Aden, his health became impaired; and remembering the coffee he had seen his countrymen drinking in Abyssinia, he sent for some in the hope of finding relief. He not only recovered from his illness; but, because of its sleep-dispelling qualities, he sanctioned the use of the drink among the dervishes "that they might spend the night in prayers or other religious exercises with more attention and presence of mind.[34]"

It is altogether probable that the coffee drink was known in Aden before the time of Sheik Gemaleddin; but the endorsement of the very learned imam, whom science and religion had already made famous, was sufficient to start a vogue for the beverage that spread throughout Yemen, and thence to the far corners of the world. We read in the Arabian manuscript at the Bibliothéque Nationale that lawyers, students, as well as travelers who journeyed at night, artisans, and others, who worked at night, to escape the heat of the day, took to drinking coffee; and even left off another drink, then becoming popular, made from the leaves of a plant called khat or cat (catha edulis).

Sheik Gemaleddin was assisted in his work of spreading the gospel of this the first propaganda for coffee by one Muhammed Alhadrami, a physician of great reputation, born in Hadramaut, Arabia Felix.

A recently unearthed and little known version of coffee's origin shows how features of both the Omar tradition and the Gemaleddin story may be combined by a professional Occidental tale-writer[35]:

Toward the middle of the fifteenth century, a poor Arab was traveling in Abyssinia. Finding himself weak and weary, he stopped near a grove. For fuel wherewith to cook his rice, he cut down a tree that happened to be covered with dried berries. His meal being cooked and eaten, the traveler discovered that these half-burnt berries were fragrant. He collected a number of them and, on crushing them with a stone, found that the aroma was increased to a great extent. While wondering at this, he accidentally let the substance fall into an earthen vessel that contained his scanty supply of water.

A miracle! The almost putrid water was purified. He brought it to his lips; it was fresh and agreeable; and after a short rest the traveler so far recovered his strength and energy as to be able to resume his journey. The lucky Arab gathered as many berries as he could, and having arrived at Aden, informed the mufti of his discovery. That worthy was an inveterate opium-smoker, who had been suffering for years from the influence of the poisonous drug. He tried an infusion of the roasted berries, and was so delighted at the recovery of his former vigor that in gratitude to the tree he called it cahuha which in Arabic signifies "force".

Galland, in his analysis of the Arabian manuscript, already referred to, that has furnished us with the most trustworthy account of the origin of coffee, criticizes Antoine Faustus Nairon, Maronite professor of Oriental languages at Rome, who was the author of the first printed treatise on coffee only,[36] for accepting the legends relating to Omar and the Abyssinian goatherd. He says they are unworthy of belief as facts of history, although he is careful to add that there is some truth in the story of the discovery of coffee by the Abyssinian goats and the abbot who prescribed the use of the berries for his monks, "the Eastern Christians being willing to have the honor of the invention of coffee, for the abbot, or prior, of the convent and his companions are only the mufti Gemaleddin and Muhammid Alhadrami, and the monks are the dervishes."

Amid all these details, Jardin reaches the conclusion that it is to chance we must attribute the knowledge of the properties of coffee, and that the coffee tree was transported from its native land to Yemen, as far as Mecca, and possibly into Persia, before being carried into Egypt.

Coffee, being thus favorably introduced into Aden, it has continued there ever since, without interruption. By degrees the cultivation of the plant and the use of the beverage passed into many neighboring places. Toward the close of the fifteenth century (1470–1500) it reached Mecca and Medina, where it was introduced, as at Aden, by the dervishes, and for the same religious purpose. About 1510 it reached Grand Cairo in Egypt, where the dervishes from Yemen, living in a district by themselves, drank coffee on the nights they intended to spend in religious devotion. They kept it in a large red earthen vessel—each in turn receiving it, respectfully, from their superior, in a small bowl, which he dipped into the jar—in the meantime chanting their prayers, the burden of which was always: "There is no God but one God, the true King, whose power is not to be disputed."

A Bouquet of Ripe Fruit

A Bouquet of Ripe Fruit

Flowers, Fruit, and Leaves

Flowers, Fruit, and Leaves


[Pg 17]

After the dervishes, the bowl was passed to lay members of the congregation. In this way coffee came to be so associated with the act of worship that "they never performed a religious ceremony in public and never observed any solemn festival without taking coffee."

Meanwhile, the inhabitants of Mecca became so fond of the beverage that, disregarding its religious associations, they made of it a secular drink to be sipped publicly in kaveh kanes, the first coffee houses. Here the idle congregated to drink coffee, to play chess and other games, to discuss the news of the day, and to amuse themselves with singing, dancing, and music, contrary to the manners of the rigid Mahommedans, who were very properly scandalized by such performances. In Medina and in Cairo, too, coffee became as common a drink as in Mecca and Aden.

The First Coffee Persecution

At length the pious Mahommedans began to disapprove of the use of coffee among the people. For one thing, it made common one of the best psychology-adjuncts of their religion; also, the joy of life, that it helped to liberate among those who frequented the coffee houses, precipitated social, political, and religious arguments; and these frequently developed into disturbances. Dissensions arose even among the churchmen themselves. They divided into camps for and against coffee. The law of the Prophet on the subject of wine was variously construed as applying to coffee.

About this time (1511) Kair Bey was governor of Mecca for the sultan of Egypt. He appears to have been a strict disciplinarian, but lamentably ignorant of the actual conditions obtaining among his people. As he was leaving the mosque one evening after prayers, he was offended by seeing in a corner a company of coffee drinkers who were preparing to pass the night in prayer. His first thought was that they were drinking wine; and great was his astonishment when he learned what the liquor really was and how common was its use throughout the city. Further investigation convinced him that indulgence in this exhilarating drink must incline men and women to extravagances prohibited by law, and so he determined to suppress it. First he drove the coffee drinkers out of the mosque.

The next day, he called a council of officers of justice, lawyers, physicians, priests, and leading citizens, to whom he declared what he had seen the evening before at the mosque; and, "being resolved to put a stop to the coffee-house abuses, he sought their advice upon the subject." The chief count in the indictment was that "in these places men and women met and played tambourines, violins, and other musical instruments. There were also people who played chess, mankala, and other similar games, for money; and there were many other things done contrary to our sacred law—may God keep it from all corruption until the day when we shall all appear before him![37]"

The lawyers agreed that the coffee houses needed reforming; but as to the drink itself, inquiry should be made as to whether it was in any way harmful to mind or body; for if not, it might not be sufficient to close the places that sold it. It was suggested that the opinion of the physicians be sought.

Two brothers, Persian physicians named Hakimani, and reputed the best in Mecca, were summoned, although we are told they knew more about logic than they did about physic. One of them came into the council fully prejudiced, as he had already written a book against coffee, and filled with concern for his profession, being fearful lest the common use of the new drink would make serious inroads on the practise of medicine. His brother joined with him in assuring the assembly that the plant bunn, from which coffee was made, was "cold and dry" and so unwholesome. When another physician present reminded them that Bengiazlah, the ancient and respected contemporary of Avicenna, taught that it was "hot and dry," they made arbitrary answer that Bengiazlah had in mind another plant of the same name, and that anyhow, it was not material; for, if the coffee drink disposed people to things forbidden by religion, the safest course for[Pg 18] Mahommedans was to look upon it as unlawful.

The friends of coffee were covered with confusion. Only the mufti spoke out in the meeting in its favor. Others, carried away by prejudice or misguided zeal, affirmed that coffee clouded their senses. One man arose and said it intoxicated like wine; which made every one laugh, since he could hardly have been a judge of this if he had not drunk wine, which is forbidden by the Mohammedan religion. Upon being asked whether he had ever drunk any, he was so imprudent as to admit that he had, thereby condemning himself out of his own mouth to the bastinado.

The mufti of Aden, being both an officer of the court and a divine, undertook, with some heat, a defense of coffee; but he was clearly in an unpopular minority. He was rewarded with the reproaches and affronts of the religious zealots.

So the governor had his way, and coffee was solemnly condemned as thing forbidden by the law; and a presentment was drawn up, signed by a majority of those present, and dispatched post-haste by the governor to his royal master, the sultan, at Cairo. At the same time, the governor published an edict forbidding the sale of coffee in public or private. The officers of justice caused all the coffee houses in Mecca to be shut, and ordered all the coffee found there, or in the merchants' warehouses, to be burned.

Naturally enough, being an unpopular edict, there were many evasions, and much coffee drinking took place behind closed doors. Some of the friends of coffee were outspoken in their opposition to the order, being convinced that the assembly had rendered a judgment not in accordance with the facts, and above all, contrary to the opinion of the mufti who, in every Arab community, is looked up to as the interpreter, or expounder, of the law. One man, caught in the act of disobedience, besides being severely punished, was also led through the most public streets of the city seated on an ass.

However, the triumph of the enemies of coffee was short-lived; for not only did the sultan of Cairo disapprove the "indiscreet zeal" of the governor of Mecca, and order the edict revoked; but he read him a severe lesson on the subject. How dared he condemn a thing approved at Cairo, the capital of his kingdom, where there were physicians whose opinions carried more weight than those of Mecca, and who had found nothing against the law in the use of coffee? The best things might be abused, added the sultan, even the sacred waters of Zamzam, but this was no reason for an absolute prohibition. The fountain, or well, of Zamzam, according to the Mohammedan teaching, is the same which God caused to spring up in the desert to comfort Hagar and Ishmael when Abraham banished them. It is in the enclosure of the temple at Mecca; and the Mohammedans drink of it with much show of devotion, ascribing great virtues to it.

It is not recorded whether the misguided governor was shocked at this seeming profanity; but it is known that he hastened to obey the orders of his lord and master. The prohibition was recalled, and thereafter he employed his authority only to preserve order in the coffee houses. The friends of coffee, and the lovers of poetic justice, found satisfaction in the governor's subsequent fate. He was exposed as "an extortioner and a public robber," and "tortured to death," his brother killing himself to avoid the same fate. The two Persian physicians who had played so mean a part in the first coffee persecution, likewise came to an unhappy end. Being discredited in Mecca they fled to Cairo, where, in an unguarded moment, having cursed the person of Selim I, emperor of the Turks, who had conquered Egypt, they were executed by his order.

Coffee, being thus re-established at Mecca, met with no opposition until 1524, when, because of renewed disorders, the kadi of the town closed the coffee houses, but did not seek to interfere with coffee drinking at home and in private. His successor, however, re-licensed them; and, continuing on their good behavior since then, they have not been disturbed.

In 1542 a ripple was caused by an order issued by Soliman the Great, forbidding the use of coffee; but no one took it seriously, especially as it soon became known that the order had been obtained "by surprise" and at the desire of only one of the court ladies "a little too nice in this point."

One of the most interesting facts in the history of the coffee drink is that wherever it has been introduced it has spelled revolution. It has been the world's most radical drink in that its function has always been to make people think. And when the people began to think, they became[Pg 19] dangerous to tyrants and to foes of liberty of thought and action. Sometimes the people became intoxicated with their new found ideas; and, mistaking liberty for license, they ran amok, and called down upon their heads persecutions and many petty intolerances. So history repeated itself in Cairo, twenty-three years after the first Mecca persecution.

Coffee's Second Religious Persecution

Selim I, after conquering Egypt, had brought coffee to Constantinople in 1517. The drink continued its progress through Syria, and was received in Damascus (about 1530), and in Aleppo (about 1532), without opposition. Several coffee houses of Damascus attained wide fame, among them the Café of the Roses, and the Café of the Gate of Salvation.

Its increasing popularity and, perhaps, the realization that the continued spread of the beverage might lessen the demand for his services, caused a physician of Cairo to propound (about 1523) to his fellows this question:

What is your opinion concerning the liquor called coffee which is drank in company, as being reckoned in the number of those we have free leave to make use of, notwithstanding it is the cause of no small disorders, that it flies up into the head and is very pernicious to health? Is it permitted or forbidden?

At the end he was careful to add, as his own opinion (and without prejudice?), that coffee was unlawful. To the credit of the physicians of Cairo as a class, it should be recorded that they looked with unsympathetic eyes upon this attempt on the part of one of their number to stir up trouble for a valuable adjunct to their materia medica, and so the effort died a-borning.

If the physicians were disposed to do nothing to stop coffee's progress, not so the preachers. As places of resort, the coffee houses exercised an appeal that proved stronger to the popular mind than that of the temples of worship. This to men of sound religious training was intolerable. The feeling against coffee smouldered for a time; but in 1534 it broke out afresh. In that year a fiery preacher in one of Cairo's mosques so played upon the emotions of his congregation with a preachment against coffee, claiming that it was against the law and that those who drank it were not true Mohammedans, that upon leaving the building a large number of his hearers, enraged, threw themselves into the first coffee house they found in their way, burned the coffee pots and dishes, and maltreated all the persons they found there.

Public opinion was immediately aroused; and the city was divided into two parties; one maintaining that coffee was against the law of Mohammed, and the other taking the contrary view. And then arose a Solomon in the person of the chief justice, who summoned into his presence the learned physicians for consultation. Again the medical profession stood by its guns. The medical men pointed out to the chief justice that the question had already been decided by their predecessors on the side of coffee, and that the time had come to put some check "on the furious zeal of the bigots" and the "indiscretions of ignorant preachers." Whereupon, the wise judge caused coffee to be served to the whole company and drank some himself. By this act he "re-united the contending parties, and brought coffee into greater esteem than ever."

Coffee in Constantinople

The story of the introduction of coffee into Constantinople shows that it experienced much the same vicissitudes that marked its advent at Mecca and Cairo. There were the same disturbances, the same unreasoning religious superstition, the same political hatreds, the same stupid interference by the civil authorities; and yet, in spite of it all, coffee attained new honors and new fame. The Oriental coffee house reached its supreme development in Constantinople.

Although coffee had been known in Constantinople since 1517, it was not until 1554 that the inhabitants became acquainted with that great institution of early eastern democracy—the coffee house. In that year, under the reign of Soliman the Great, son of Selim I, one Schemsi of Damascus and one Hekem of Aleppo opened the first two coffee houses in the quarter called Taktacalah. They were wonderful institutions for those days, remarkable alike for their furnishings and their comforts, as well as for the opportunity they afforded for social intercourse and free discussion. Schemsi and Hekem received their guests on "very neat couches or sofas," and the admission was the price of a dish of coffee—about one cent.

Turks, high and low, took up the idea with avidity. Coffee houses increased in[Pg 20] number. The demand outstripped the supply. In the seraglio itself special officers (kahvedjibachi) were commissioned to prepare the coffee drink for the sultan. Coffee was in favor with all classes.

The Turks gave to the coffee houses the name kahveh kanes (diversoria, Cotovicus called them); and as they grew in popularity, they became more and more luxurious. There were lounges, richly carpeted; and in addition to coffee, many other means of entertainment. To these "schools of the wise" came the "young men ready to enter upon offices of judicature; kadis from the provinces, seeking re-instatement or new appointments; muderys, or professors; officers of the seraglio; bashaws; and the principal lords of the port," not to mention merchants and travelers from all parts of the then known world.

Coffee House Persecutions

About 1570, just when coffee seemed settled for all time in the social scheme, the imams and dervishes raised a loud wail against it, saying the mosques were almost empty, while the coffee houses were always full. Then the preachers joined in the clamor, affirming it to be a greater sin to go to a coffee house than to enter a tavern. The authorities began an examination; and the same old debate was on. This time, however, appeared a mufti who was unfriendly to coffee. The religious fanatics argued that Mohammed had not even known of coffee, and so could not have used the drink, and, therefore, it must be an abomination for his followers to do so. Further, coffee was burned and ground to charcoal before making a drink of it; and the Koran distinctly forbade the use of charcoal, including it among the unsanitary foods. The mufti decided the question in favor of the zealots, and coffee was forbidden by law.

The prohibition proved to be more honored in the breach than in the observance. Coffee drinking continued in secret, instead of in the open. And when, about 1580, Amurath III, at the further solicitation of the churchmen, declared in an edict that coffee should be classed with wine, and so prohibited in accordance with the law of the Prophet, the people only smiled, and persisted in their secret disobedience. Already they were beginning to think for themselves on religious as well as political matters. The civil officers, finding it useless to try to suppress the custom, winked at violations of the law; and, for a consideration, permitted the sale of coffee privately, so that many Ottoman "speak-easies" sprung up—places where coffee might be had behind shut doors; shops where it was sold in back-rooms.

This was enough to re-establish the coffee houses by degrees. Then came a mufti less scrupulous or more knowing than his predecessor, who declared that coffee was not to be looked upon as coal, and that the drink made from it was not forbidden by the law. There was a general renewal of coffee drinking; religious devotees, preachers, lawyers, and the mufti himself indulging in it, their example being followed by the whole court and the city.

After this, the coffee houses provided a handsome source of revenue to each succeeding grand vizier; and there was no further interference with the beverage until the reign of Amurath IV, when Grand Vizier Kuprili, during the war with Candia, decided that for political reasons, the coffee houses should be closed. His argument was much the same as that advanced more than a hundred years later by Charles II of England, namely, that they were hotbeds of sedition. Kuprili was a military dictator, with nothing of Charles's vacillating nature; and although, like Charles, he later rescinded his edict, he enforced it, while it was effective, in no uncertain fashion. Kuprili was no petty tyrant. For a first violation of the order, cudgeling was the punishment; for a second offense, the victim was sewn in a leather bag and thrown into the Bosporus. Strangely enough, while he suppressed the coffee houses, he permitted the taverns, that sold wine forbidden by the Koran, to remain open. Perhaps he found the latter produced a less dangerous kind of mental stimulation than that produced by coffee. Coffee, says Virey, was too intellectual a drink for the fierce and senseless administration of the pashas.

Even in those days it was not possible to make people good by law. Paraphrasing the copy-book, suppressed desires will arise, though all the world o'erwhelm them, to men's eyes. An unjust law was no more enforceable in those centuries than it is in the twentieth century. Men are humans first, although they may become brutish when bereft of reason. But coffee does not steal away their reason; rather, it sharpens their reasoning faculties. As Galland has truly said: "Coffee joins men, born for[Pg 21] society, in a more perfect union; protestations are more sincere in being made at a time when the mind is not clouded with fumes and vapors, and therefore not easily forgotten, which too frequently happens when made over a bottle."

Characteristic Scene in a Turkish Coffee House of the
Seventeenth Century
Characteristic Scene in a Turkish Coffee House of the Seventeenth Century

Despite the severe penalties staring them in the face, violations of the law were plentiful among the people of Constantinople. Venders of the beverage appeared in the market-places with "large copper vessels with fire under them; and those who had a mind to drink were invited to step into any neighboring shop where every one was welcome on such an account."

Later, Kuprili, having assured himself that the coffee houses were no longer a menace to his policies, permitted the free use of the beverage that he had previously forbidden.

Coffee and Coffee Houses in Persia

Some writers claim for Persia the discovery of the coffee drink; but there is no evidence to support the claim. There are, however, sufficient facts to justify a belief that here, as in Ethiopia, coffee has been known from time immemorial—which is a very convenient phrase. At an early date the coffee house became an established institution in the chief towns. The Persians appear to have used far more intelligence than the Turks in handling the political phase of the coffee-house question, and so it never became necessary to order them suppressed in Persia.

The wife of Shah Abbas, observing that great numbers of people were wont to gather and to talk politics in the leading coffee house of Ispahan, appointed a mollah—an[Pg 22] ecclesiastical teacher and expounder of the law—to sit there daily to entertain the frequenters of the place with nicely turned points of history, law, and poetry. Being a man of wisdom and great tact, he avoided controversial questions of state; and so politics were kept in the background. He proved a welcome visitor, and was made much of by the guests. This example was generally followed, and as a result disturbances were rare in the coffee houses of Ispahan.

Adam Olearius[38] (1599–1671), who was secretary to the German Embassy that traveled in Turkey in 1633–36, tells of the great diversions made in Persian coffee houses "by their poets and historians, who are seated in a high chair from whence they make speeches and tell satirical stories, playing in the meantime with a little stick and using the same gestures as our jugglers and legerdemain men do in England."

At court conferences conspicuous among the shah's retinue were always to be seen the "kahvedjibachi," or "coffee-pourers."

Early Coffee Manners and Customs

Karstens Niebuhr[39] (1733–1815), the Hanoverian traveler, furnishes the following description of the early Arabian, Syrian, and Egyptian coffee houses:

They are commonly large halls, having their floors spread with mats, and illuminated at night by a multitude of lamps. Being the only theaters for the exercise of profane eloquence, poor scholars attend here to amuse the people. Select portions are read, e.g. the adventures of Rustan Sal, a Persian hero. Some aspire to the praise of invention, and compose tales and fables. They walk up and down as they recite, or assuming oratorial consequence, harangue upon subjects chosen by themselves.

In one coffee house at Damascus an orator was regularly hired to tell his stories at a fixed hour; in other cases he was more directly dependant upon the taste of his hearers, as at the conclusion of his discourse, whether it had consisted of literary topics or of loose and idle tales, he looked to the audience for a voluntary contribution.

At Aleppo, again, there was a man with a soul above the common, who, being a person of distinction, and one that studied merely for his own pleasure, had yet gone the round of all the coffee houses in the city to pronounce moral harangues.

In some coffee houses there were singers and dancers, as before, and many came to listen to the marvelous tales, of the Thousand and One Nights.

In Oriental countries it was once the custom to offer a cup of "bad coffee," i.e., coffee containing poison, to those functionaries or other persons who had proven themselves embarrassing to the authorities.

While coffee drinking started as a private religious function, it was not long after its introduction by the coffee houses that it became secularized still more in the homes of the people, although for centuries it retained a certain religious significance. Galland says that in Constantinople, at the time of his visit to the city, there was no house, rich or poor, Turk or Jew, Greek or Armenian, where it was not drunk at least twice a day, and many drank it oftener, for it became a custom in every house to offer it to all visitors; and it was considered an incivility to refuse it. Twenty dishes a day, per person, was not an uncommon average.

Galland observes that "as much money must be spent in the private families of Constantinople for coffee as for wine at Paris," and relates that it is as common for beggars to ask for money to buy coffee, as it is in Europe to ask for money to buy wine or beer.

At this time to refuse or to neglect to give coffee to their wives was a legitimate cause for divorce among the Turks. The men made promise when marrying never to let their wives be without coffee. "That," says Fulbert de Monteith, "is perhaps more prudent than to swear fidelity."

Another Arabic manuscript by Bichivili in the Bibliothéque Nationale at Paris furnishes us with this pen picture of the coffee ceremony as practised in Constantinople in the sixteenth century:

In all the great men's houses, there are servants whose business it is only to take care of the coffee; and the head officer among them, or he who has the inspection over all the rest, has an apartment allowed him near the hall which is destined for the reception of visitors. The Turks call this officer Kavveghi, that is, Overseer or Steward of the Coffee. In the harem or ladies' apartment in the seraglio, there are a great many such officers, each having forty or fifty Baltagis under them, who, after they have served a certain time in these coffee-houses, are sure to be well provided for, either by an advantageous post, or a sufficient quantity of land. In the houses of persons of quality likewise, there are pages, called Itchoglans, who receive the coffee from the stewards, and present it to the company with surprising dexterity and address, as soon as the master of the family makes a sign for that purpose, which is all the language they ever speak to them.... The coffee is served on salvers without feet, made commonly of painted or varnished wood, and sometimes of silver. They hold from 15 to 20 china dishes each; and such as can afford it have these dishes half set in silver ... the dish may be easily held with the thumb below and two fingers on the upper edge.

[Pg 23]

Serving Coffee to a Guest.—After a Drawing in an Early
Edition of "Arabian Nights" Serving Coffee to a Guest.—After a Drawing in an Early Edition of "Arabian Nights"

In his Relation of a Journey to Constantinople in 1657, Nicholas Rolamb, the Swedish traveler and envoy to the Ottoman Porte, gives us this early glimpse of coffee in the home life of the Turks:[40]

This [coffee] is a kind of pea that grows in Egypt, which the Turks pound and boil in water, and take it for pleasure instead of brandy, sipping it through the lips boiling hot, persuading themselves that it consumes catarrhs, and prevents the rising of vapours out of the stomach into the head. The drinking of this coffee and smoking tobacco (for tho' the use of tobacco is forbidden on pain of death, yet it is used in Constantinople more than any where by men as well as women, tho' secretly) makes up all the pastime among the Turks, and is the only thing they treat one another with; for which reason all people of distinction have a particular room next their own, built on purpose for it, where there stands a jar of coffee continually boiling.

It is curious to note that among several misconceptions that were held by some of the peoples of the Levant was one that coffee was a promoter of impotence, although a Persian version of the Angel Gabriel legend says that Gabriel invented it to restore the Prophet's failing metabolism. Often in Turkish and Arabian literature, however, we meet with the suggestion that coffee drinking makes for sterility and barrenness, a notion that modern medicine has exploded; for now we know that coffee stimulates the racial instinct, for which tobacco is a sedative.

[Pg 24]


[Pg 25]

Chapter IV


When the three great temperance beverages, cocoa, tea, and coffee, came to Europe—Coffee first mentioned by Rauwolf in 1582—Early days of coffee in Italy—How Pope Clement VIII baptized it and made it a truly Christian beverage—The first European coffee house, in Venice, 1645—The famous Caffè Florian—Other celebrated Venetian coffee houses of the eighteenth century—The romantic story of Pedrocchi, the poor lemonade-vender, who built the most beautiful coffee house in the world

Of the world's three great temperance beverages, cocoa, tea, and coffee, cocoa was the first to be introduced into Europe, in 1528, by the Spanish. It was nearly a century later, in 1610, that the Dutch brought tea to Europe. Venetian traders introduced coffee into Europe in 1615.

Europe's first knowledge of coffee was brought by travelers returning from the Far East and the Levant. Leonhard Rauwolf started on his famous journey into the Eastern countries from Marseilles in September, 1573, having left his home in Augsburg, the 18th of the preceding May. He reached Aleppo in November, 1573; and returned to Augsburg, February 12, 1576. He was the first European to mention coffee; and to him also belongs the honor of being the first to refer to the beverage in print.

Rauwolf was not only a doctor of medicine and a botanist of great renown, but also official physician to the town of Augsburg. When he spoke, it was as one having authority. The first printed reference to coffee appears as chaube in chapter viii of Rauwolf's Travels, which deals with the manners and customs of the city of Aleppo. The exact passage is reproduced herewith as it appears in the original German edition of Rauwolf published at Frankfort and Lauingen in 1582–83. The translation is as follows:

If you have a mind to eat something or to drink other liquors, there is commonly an open shop near it, where you sit down upon the ground or carpets and drink together. Among the rest they have a very good drink, by them called Chaube [coffee] that is almost as black as ink, and very good in illness, chiefly that of the stomach; of this they drink in the morning early in open places before everybody, without any fear or regard, out of China cups, as hot as they can; they put it often to their lips but drink but little at a time, and let it go round as they sit.

In this same water they take a fruit called Bunnu which in its bigness, shape and color is almost like unto a bayberry, with two thin shells surrounded, which, as they informed me, are brought from the Indies; but as these in themselves are, and have within them, two yellowish grains in two distinct cells, and besides, being they agree in their virtue, figure, looks, and name with the Bunchum of Avicenna, and Bunca, of Rasis ad Almans exactly; therefore I take them to be the same, until I am better informed by the learned. This liquor is very common among them, wherefore there are a great many of them that sell it, and others that sell the berries, everywhere in their Batzars.

The Early Days of Coffee in Italy

It is not easy to determine just when the use of coffee spread from Constantinople to the western parts of Europe; but it is more than likely that the Venetians, because of their close proximity to, and their great[Pg 26] trade with, the Levant, were the first acquainted with it.

Prospero Alpini (Alpinus; 1553–1617), a learned physician and botanist of Padua, journeyed to Egypt in 1580, and brought back news of coffee. He was the first to print a description of the coffee plant and drink in his treatise The Plants of Egypt, written in Latin, and published in Venice, 1592. He says:

I have seen this tree at Cairo, it being the same tree that produces the fruit, so common in Egypt, to which they give the name bon or ban. The Arabians and the Egyptians make a sort of decoction of it, which they drink instead of wine; and it is sold in all their public houses, as wine is with us. They call this drink caova. The fruit of which they make it comes from "Arabia the Happy," and the tree that I saw looks like a spindle tree, but the leaves are thicker, tougher, and greener. The tree is never without leaves.

Alpini makes note of the medicinal qualities attributed to the drink by dwellers in the Orient, and many of these were soon incorporated into Europe's materia medica.

Johann Vesling (Veslingius; 1598–1649), a German botanist and traveler, settled in Venice, where he became known as a learned Italian physician. He edited (1640) a new edition of Alpini's work; but earlier (1638) published some comments on Alpini's findings, in the course of which he distinguished certain qualities found in a drink made from the husks (skins) of the coffee berries from those found in the liquor made from the beans themselves, which he calls the stones of the coffee fruit. He says:

Not only in Egypt is coffee in much request, but in almost all the other provinces of the Turkish Empire. Whence it comes to pass that it is dear even in the Levant and scarce among the Europeans, who by that means are deprived of a very wholesome liquor.

From this we may conclude that coffee was not wholly unknown in Europe at that time. Vesling adds that when he visited Cairo, he found there two or three thousand coffee houses, and that "some did begin to put sugar in their coffee to correct the bitterness of it, and others made sugar-plums of the berries."

Coffee Baptized by the Pope

Shortly after coffee reached Rome, according to a much quoted legend, it was again threatened with religious fanaticism, which almost caused its excommunication from Christendom. It is related that certain priests appealed to Pope Clement VIII (1535–1605) to have its use forbidden among Christians, denouncing it as an invention of Satan. They claimed that the Evil One, having forbidden his followers, the infidel Moslems, the use of wine—no doubt because it was sanctified by Christ and used in the Holy Communion—had given them as a substitute this hellish black brew of his which they called coffee. For Christians to drink it was to risk falling into a trap set by Satan for their souls.

An Eighteenth Century Italian Coffee House An Eighteenth Century Italian Coffee House

After Goldoni, by Zatta

It is further related that the pope, made curious, desired to inspect this Devil's drink, and had some brought to him. The aroma of it was so pleasant and inviting that the pope was tempted to try a cupful. After drinking it, he exclaimed, "Why, this Satan's drink is so delicious that it would be a pity to let the infidels have exclusive use of it. We shall fool Satan by baptizing it, and making it a truly Christian beverage."

Thus, whatever harmfulness its opponents try to attribute to coffee, the fact remains (if we are to credit the story) that it has been baptized and proclaimed unharmful, and a "truly Christian beverage," by his holiness the pope.

The Venetians had further knowledge of coffee in 1585, when Gianfrancesco Morosini, city magistrate at Constantinople, reported to the Senate that the Turks "drink a black water as hot as they can suffer it, which is the infusion of a bean called cavee, which is said to possess the virtue of stimulating mankind."

Dr. A. Couguet, in an Italian review, asserts that Europe's first cup of coffee was sipped in Venice, toward the close of[Pg 27] the sixteenth century. He is of the opinion that the first berries were imported by Mocengio, who was called the pevere, because he made a huge fortune trading in spices and other specialties of the Orient.

In 1615 Pierre (Pietro) Delia Valle (1586–1652), the well known Italian traveler and author of Travels in India and Persia, wrote a letter from Constantinople to his friend Mario Schipano at Venice:

The Turks have a drink of black color, which during the summer is very cooling, whereas in the winter it heats and warms the body, remaining always the same beverage and not changing its substance. They swallow it hot as it comes from the fire and they drink it in long draughts, not at dinner time, but as a kind of dainty and sipped slowly while talking with one's friends. One cannot find any meetings among them where they drink it not.... With this drink, which they call cahue, they divert themselves in their conversations.... It is made with the grain or fruit of a certain tree called cahue.... When I return I will bring some with me and I will impart the knowledge to the Italians.

Nobility in an Early Venetian Caffè Nobility in an Early Venetian Caffè

From the Grevembroch collection in the Museo Civico

Della Valle's countrymen, however, were in a fair way to become well acquainted with the beverage, for already (1615) it had been introduced into Venice. At first it was used largely for medicinal purposes; and high prices were charged for it. Vesling says of its use in Europe as a medicine, "the first step it made from the cabinets of the curious, as an exotic seed, being into the apothecaries' shops as a drug."

The first coffee house in Italy is said to have been opened in 1645, but convincing confirmation is lacking. In the beginning, the beverage was sold with other drinks by lemonade-venders. The Italian word aquacedratajo means one who sells lemonade and similar refreshments; also one who sells coffee, chocolate, liquor, etc. Jardin says the beverage was in general use throughout Italy in 1645. It is certain, however, that a coffee shop was opened in Venice in 1683 under the Procuratie Nuove. The famous Caffè Florian was opened in Venice by Floriono Francesconi in 1720.

The first authoritative treatise devoted to coffee only appeared in 1671. It was written in Latin by Antoine Faustus Nairon (1635–1707), Maronite professor of the Chaldean and Syrian languages in the College of Rome.

During the latter part of the seventeenth century and the first half of the eighteenth, the coffee house made great progress in Italy. It is interesting to note that this first European adaptation of the Oriental coffee house was known as a caffè. The double f is retained by the Italians to this day, and by some writers is thought to have been taken from coffea, without the double f being lost, as in the case of the French and some other Continental forms.

To Italy, then, belongs the honor of having given to the Western world the real coffee house, although the French and Austrians greatly improved upon it. It was not long after its beginning that nearly every shop on the Piazza di San Marco in Venice was a caffè[41]. Near the Piazza was the Caffè della Ponte dell' Angelo, where in 1792 died the dog Tabacchio, celebrated by Vincenzo Formaleoni in a satirical eulogy that is a parody of the oration of Ubaldo Bregolini upon the death of Angelo Emo.

In the Caffè della Spaderia, kept by Marco Ancilloto, some radicals proposed to[Pg 28] open a reading-room to encourage the spread of liberal ideas. The inquisitors sent a foot-soldier to notify the proprietor that he should inform the first person entering the room that he was to present himself before their tribunal. The idea was thereupon abandoned.

Goldoni in a Venetian Caffè Goldoni in a Venetian Caffè

From a painting by P. Longhi

Among other celebrated coffee houses was the one called Menegazzo, from the name of the rotund proprietor, Menico. This place was much frequented by men of letters; and heated discussions were common there between Angelo Maria Barbaro, Lorenzo da Ponte, and others of their time.

The coffee house gradually became the common resort of all classes. In the mornings came the merchants, lawyers, physicians, brokers, workers, and wandering venders; in the afternoons, and until the late hours of the nights, the leisure classes, including the ladies.

For the most part, the rooms of the first Italian caffè were low, simple, unadorned, without windows, and only poorly illuminated by tremulous and uncertain lights. Within them, however, joyous throngs passed to and fro, clad in varicolored garments, men and women chatting in groups here and there, and always above the buzz there were to be heard such choice bits of scandal as made worthwhile a visit to the coffee house. Smaller rooms were devoted to gaming.

In the "little square" described by Goldoni[42] in his comedy The Coffee House, where the combined barber-shop and gambling house was located, Don Marzio, that marvelous type of slanderous old romancer, is shown as one typical of the period, for Goldoni was a satirist. The other characters of the play were also drawn from the types then to be seen every day in the coffee houses on the Piazza.

In the square of St. Mark's, in the eighteenth century, under the Procuratie Vecchie, were the caffè Re di Francia, Abbondanza, Pitt, l'eroe, Regina d'Ungheria, Orfeo, Redentore, Coraggio-Speranza, Arco Celeste, and Quadri. The last-named was opened in 1775 by Giorgio Quadri of Corfu, who served genuine Turkish coffee for the first time in Venice.

Under the Procuratie Nuove were to be found the caffè Angelo Custode, Duca di Toscana, Buon genio-Doge, Imperatore Imperatrice della Russia, Tamerlano, Fontane di Diana, Dame Venete, Aurora Piante d'oro, Arabo-Piastrelle, Pace, Venezia trionfante, and Florian.

Probably no coffee house in Europe has acquired so world-wide a celebrity as that kept by Florian, the friend of Canova the sculptor, and the trusted agent and acquaintance of hundreds of persons in and out of the city, who found him a mine of social information and a convenient city directory. Persons leaving Venice left their cards and itineraries with him; and new-comers inquired at Florian's for tidings of those whom they wished to see. "He long concentrated in himself a knowledge more varied and multifarious than that possessed by any individual before or since," says Hazlitt[43], who has given us this delightful pen picture of caffè life in Venice in the eighteenth century:

Venetian coffee was said to surpass all others, and the article placed before his visitors by Florian was the best in Venice. Of some of the establishments as they then existed, Molmenti has supplied us with illustrations, in one of which Goldoni the dramatist is represented as a visitor, and a female mendicant is soliciting alms.

So cordial was the esteem of the great sculptor Canova for him, that when Florian was[Pg 29] overtaken by gout, he made a model of his leg, that the poor fellow might be spared the anguish of fitting himself with boots. The friendship had begun when Canova was entering on his career, and he never forgot the substantial services which had been rendered to him in the hour of need.

In later days, the Caffè Florian was under the superintendence of a female chef, and the waitresses used, in the case of certain visitors, to fasten a flower in the button-hole, perhaps allusively to the name. In the Piazza itself girls would do the same thing. A good deal of hospitality is, and has ever been, dispensed at Venice in the cafés and restaurants, which do service for the domestic hearth.

There were many other establishments devoted, more especially in the latest period of Venetian independence, to the requirements of those who desired such resorts for purposes of conversation and gossip. These houses were frequented by various classes of patrons—the patrician, the politician, the soldier, the artist, the old and the young—all had their special haunts where the company and the tariff were in accordance with the guests. The upper circles of male society—all above the actually poor—gravitated hither to a man.

For the Venetian of all ranks the coffee house was almost the last place visited on departure from the city, and the first visited on his return. His domicile was the residence of his wife and the repository of his possessions; but only on exceptional occasions was it the scene of domestic hospitality, and rare were the instances when the husband and wife might be seen abroad together, and when the former would invite the lady to enter a café or a confectioner's shop to partake of an ice.

Florian's Famous Caffè in the Piazza di San Marco,
Venice, Nineteenth Century
Florian's Famous Caffè in the Piazza di San Marco, Venice, Nineteenth Century

The Caffè Florian has undergone many changes, but it still survives as one of the favorite caffè in the Piazza San Marco.

By 1775 coffee-house history had begun to repeat itself in Venice. Charges of immorality, vice, and corruption, were preferred against the caffè; and the Council of Ten in 1775, and again in 1776, directed the Inquisitors of State to eradicate these "social cankers." However, they survived all attempts of the reformers to suppress them.

The Caffè Pedrocchi in Padua was another of the early Italian coffee houses that became famous. Antonio Pedrocchi (1776–1852) was a lemonade-vender who, in the hope of attracting the gay youth, the students of his time, bought an old house with the idea of converting the ground floor into a series of attractive rooms. He put all his ready money and all he could borrow into the venture, only to find there were no cellars, indispensable for making ices and beverages on the premises, and that the walls and floors were so old that they crumbled when repairs were started.

He was in despair; but, nothing daunted, he decided to have a cellar dug. What was[Pg 30] his surprise to find the house was built over the vault of an old church, and that the vault contained considerable treasure. The lucky proprietor found himself free to continue his trade of lemonade-vender and coffee-seller, or to live a life of ease. Being a wise man, he adhered to his original plan; and soon his luxurious rooms became the favorite rendezvous for the smart set of his day. In this period lemonade and coffee frequently went together. The Caffè Pedrocchi is considered one of the finest pieces of architecture erected in Italy in the nineteenth century. It was begun in 1816, opened in 1831, and completed in 1842.

Coffee houses were early established in other Italian cities, particularly in Rome, Florence, and Genoa.

In 1764, Il Caffè, a purely philosophical and literary periodical, made its appearance in Milan, being founded by Count Pietro Verri (1728–97). Its chief editor was Cesare Beccaria. Its object was to counteract the influence and superficiality of the Arcadians. It acquired its title from the fact that Count Verri and his friends were wont to meet at a coffee house in Milan kept by a Greek named Demetrio. It lived only two years.

Other periodicals of the same name appeared at later periods.

Coffee Pot

[Pg 31]

Chapter V


What French travelers did for coffee—The introduction of coffee by P. de la Roque into Marseilles in 1644—The first commercial importation of coffee from Egypt—The first French coffee house—Failure of the attempt by physicians of Marseilles to discredit coffee—Soliman Aga introduces coffee into Paris—Cabarets à caffè—Celebrated works on coffee by French writers

We are indebted to three great French travelers for much valuable knowledge about coffee; and these gallant gentlemen first fired the imagination of the French people in regard to the beverage that was destined to play so important a part in the French revolution. They are Tavernier (1605–89), Thévenot (1633–67), and Bernier (1625–88).

Then there is Jean La Roque (1661–1745), who made a famous "Voyage to Arabia the Happy" (Voyage de l'Arabie Heureuse) in 1708–13 and to whose father, P. de la Roque, is due the honor of having brought the first coffee into France in 1644. Also, there is Antoine Galland (1646–1715), the French Orientalist, first translator of the Arabian Nights and antiquary to the king, who, in 1699, published an analysis and translation from the Arabic of the Abd-al-Kâdir manuscript (1587), giving the first authentic account of the origin of coffee.

Probably the earliest reference to coffee in France is to be found in the simple statement that Onorio Belli (Bellus), the Italian botanist and author, in 1596 sent to Charles de l'Écluse (1526–1609), a French physician, botanist and traveler, "seeds used by the Egyptians to make a liquid they call cave.[44]"

P. de la Roque accompanied M. de la Haye, the French ambassador, to Constantinople; and afterward traveled into the Levant. Upon his return to Marseilles in 1644, he brought with him not only some coffee, but "all the little implements used about it in Turkey, which were then looked upon as great curiosities in France." There were included in the coffee service some findjans, or china dishes, and small pieces of muslin embroidered with gold, silver, and silk, which the Turks used as napkins.

Jean La Roque gives credit to Jean de Thévenot for introducing coffee privately into Paris in 1657, and for teaching the French how to use coffee.

De Thévenot writes in this entertaining fashion concerning the use of the drink in Turkey in the middle of the seventeenth century:

They have another drink in ordinary use. They call it cahve and take it all hours of the day. This drink is made from a berry roasted in a pan or other utensil over the fire. They pound it into a very fine powder.

When they wish to drink it, they take a boiler made expressly for the purpose, which they call an ibrik; and having filled it with water, they let it boil. When it boils, they add to about three cups of water a heaping spoonful of the powder; and when it boils, they remove it quickly from the fire, or sometimes they stir it, otherwise it would boil over, as it rises very quickly. When it has boiled up thus ten or twelve times, they pour it into porcelain cups, which they place upon a platter of painted wood and bring it to you thus boiling.

One must drink it hot, but in several instalments, otherwise it is not good. One takes it in[Pg 32] little swallows[45] for fear of burning one's self—in such fashion that in a cavekane (so they call the places where it is sold ready prepared), one hears a pleasant little musical sucking sound.... There are some who mix with it a small quantity of cloves and cardamom seeds; others add sugar.

Title Page of La Roque's Work, 1716 Title Page of La Roque's Work, 1716

It was really out of curiosity that the people of France took to coffee, says Jardin; "they wanted to know this Oriental beverage, so much vaunted, although its blackness at first sight was far from attractive."

About the year 1660 several merchants of Marseilles, who had lived for a time in the Levant and felt they were not able to do without coffee, brought some coffee beans home with them; and later, a group of apothecaries and other merchants brought in the first commercial importation of coffee in bales from Egypt. The Lyons merchants soon followed suit, and the use of coffee became general in those parts. In 1671 certain private persons opened a coffee house in Marseilles, near the Exchange, which at once became popular with merchants and travelers. Others started up, and all were crowded. The people did not, however, drink any the less at home. "In fine," says La Roque, "the use of the beverage increased so amazingly that, as was inevitable, the physicians became alarmed, thinking it would not agree with the inhabitants of a country hot and extremely dry."

The Coffee Tree as Pictured by La Roque in His "Voyage de
l'Arabie Heureuse" The Coffee Tree as Pictured by La Roque in His "Voyage de l'Arabie Heureuse"

The age-old controversy was on. Some sided with the physicians, others opposed them, as at Mecca, Cairo, and Constantinople; only here the argument turned mainly on the medicinal question, the Church this time having no part in the dispute. "The lovers of coffee used the physicians very ill when they met together, and the physicians on their side threatened the coffee drinkers with all sorts of diseases."


[Pg 33]

Matters came to a head in 1679, when an ingenious attempt by the physicians of Marseilles to discredit coffee took the form of having a young student, about to be admitted to the College of Physicians, dispute before the magistrate in the town hall, a question proposed by two physicians of the Faculty of Aix, as to whether coffee was or was not prejudicial to the inhabitants of Marseilles.

The thesis recited that coffee had won the approval of all nations, had almost wholly put down the use of wine, although it was not to be compared even with the lees of that excellent beverage; that it was a vile and worthless foreign novelty; that its claim to be a remedy against distempers was ridiculous, because it was not a bean but the fruit of a tree discovered by goats and camels; that it was hot and not cold, as alleged; that it burned up the blood, and so induced palsies, impotence, and leanness; "from all of which we must necessarily conclude that coffee is hurtful to the greater part of the inhabitants of Marseilles."

Thus did the good doctors of the Faculty of Aix set forth their prejudices, and this was their final decision upon coffee. Many thought they overreached themselves in their misguided zeal. They were handled somewhat roughly in the disputation, which disclosed many false reasonings, to say nothing of blunders as to matters of fact. The world had already advanced too far to have another decision against coffee count for much, and this latest effort to stop its onward march was of even less force than the diatribes of the Mohammedan priests. The coffee houses continued to be as much frequented as before, and the people drank no less coffee in their homes. Indeed, the indictment proved a boomerang, for consumption received such an impetus that the merchants of Lyons and Marseilles, for the first time in history, began to import green coffee from the Levant by the ship-load in order to meet the increased demand.

Meanwhile, in 1669, Soliman Aga, the Turkish ambassador from Mohammed IV to the court of Louis XIV, had arrived in Paris. He brought with him a considerable quantity of coffee, and introduced the coffee drink, made in Turkish style, to the French capital.

A Coffee Branch With Flowers and Fruit as Illustrated in
La Roque's "Voyage de l'Arabie Heureuse" A Coffee Branch With Flowers and Fruit as Illustrated in La Roque's "Voyage de l'Arabie Heureuse"

The ambassador remained in Paris only from July, 1669, to May, 1670, but long enough firmly to establish the custom he had introduced. Two years later, Pascal, an Armenian, opened his coffee-drinking booth at the fair of St.-Germain, and this event marked the beginning of the Parisian coffee houses. The story is told in detail in chapter XI.

The custom of drinking coffee having become general in the capital, as well as in Marseilles and Lyons, the example was followed in all the provinces. Every city soon had its coffee houses, and the beverage was largely consumed in private homes. La Roque writes: "None, from the meanest citizen to the persons of the highest quality, failed to use it every morning or at least soon after dinner, it being the custom likewise to offer it in all visits."

"The persons of highest quality" encouraged the fashion of having cabaréts à caffé; and soon it was said that there could be seen in France all that the East could furnish of magnificence in coffee houses, "the china jars and other Indian furniture[Pg 34] being richer and more valuable than the gold and silver with which they were lavishly adorned."

In 1671 there appeared in Lyons a book entitled The Most Excellent Virtues of the Mulberry, Called Coffee, showing the need for an authoritative work on the subject—a need that was ably filled that same year and in Lyons by the publication of Philippe Sylvestre Dufour's admirable treatise, Concerning the Use of Coffee, Tea, and Chocolate. Again at Lyons, Dufour published (1684) his more complete work on The Manner of Making Coffee, Tea, and Chocolate. This was followed (1715) by the publication in Paris of Jean La Roque's Voyage de l'Arabie Heureuse, containing the story of the author's journey to the court of the king of Yemen in 1711, a description of the coffee tree and its fruit, and a critical and historical treatise on its first use and introduction to France.

La Roque's description of his visit to the king's gardens is interesting because it shows the Arabs still held to the belief that coffee grew only in Arabia. Here it is:

There was nothing remarkable in the King's Gardens, except the great pains taken to furnish it with all the kinds of trees that are common in the country; amongst which there were the coffee trees, the finest that could be had. When the deputies represented to the King how much that was contrary to the custom of the Princes of Europe (who endeavor to stock their gardens chiefly with the rarest and most uncommon plants that can be found) the King returned them this answer: That he valued himself as much upon his good taste and generosity as any Prince in Europe; the coffee tree, he told them, was indeed common in his country, but it was not the less dear to him upon that account; the perpetual verdure of it pleased him extremely; and also the thoughts of its producing a fruit which was nowhere else to be met with; and when he made a present of that that came from his own Gardens, it was a great satisfaction to him to be able to say that he had planted the trees that produced it with his own hands.

The first merchant licensed to sell coffee in France was one Damame François, a bourgeois of Paris, who secured the privilege through an edict of 1692. He was given the sole right for ten years to sell coffees and teas in all the provinces and towns of the kingdom, and in all territories under the sovereignty of the king, and received also authority to maintain a warehouse.

To Santo Domingo (1738) and other French colonies the café was soon transported from the homeland, and thrived under special license from the king.

In 1858 there appeared in France a leaflet-periodical, entitled The Café, Literary, Artistic, and Commercial. Ch. Woinez, the editor, said in announcing it: "The Salon stood for privilege, the Café stands for equality." Its publication was of short duration.

Coffee Pot

[Pg 35]

Chapter VI


The first printed reference to coffee in English—Early mention of coffee by noted English travelers and writers—The Lacedæmonian "black broth" controversy—How Conopios introduced coffee drinking at Oxford—The first English coffee house in Oxford—Two English botanists on coffee

English travelers and writers of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries were quite as enterprising as their Continental contemporaries in telling about the coffee bean and the coffee drink. The first printed reference to coffee in English, however, appears as chaoua in a note by a Dutchman, Paludanus, in Linschoten's Travels, the title of an English translation from the Latin of a work first published in Holland in 1595 or 1596, the English edition appearing in London in 1598. A reproduction made from a photograph of the original work, with the quaint black-letter German text and the Paludanus notation in roman, is shown herewith.

Hans Hugo (or John Huygen) Van Linschooten (1563–1611) was one of the most intrepid of Dutch travelers. In his description of Japanese manners and customs we find one of the earliest tea references. He says:

Their manner of eating and drinking is: everie man hath a table alone, without table-clothes or napkins, and eateth with two pieces of wood like the men of Chino: they drinke wine of Rice, wherewith they drink themselves drunke, and after their meat they use a certain drinke, which is a pot with hote water, which they drinke as hote as ever they may indure, whether it be Winter or Summer.

Just here Bernard Ten Broeke Paludanus (1550–1633), Dutch savant and author, professor of philosophy at the University of Leyden, himself a traveler over the four quarters of the globe, inserts his note containing the coffee reference. He says:

The Turks holde almost the same manner of drinking of their Chaona[46], which they make of certaine fruit, which is like unto the Bakelaer[47], and by the Egyptians called Bon or Ban[48]: they take of this fruite one pound and a half, and roast them a little in the fire and then sieth them in twenty pounds of water, till the half be consumed away: this drinke they take every morning fasting in their chambers, out of an earthen pot, being verie hote, as we doe here drinke aquacomposita[49] in the morning: and they say that it strengtheneth and maketh them warme, breaketh wind, and openeth any stopping.

Van Linschooten then completes his tea reference by saying:

The manner of dressing their meat is altogether contrarie unto other nations: the aforesaid warme water is made with the powder of a certaine hearbe called Chaa, which is much esteemed, and is well accounted among them.

The chaa is, of course, tea, dialect t'eh.

In 1599, "Sir" Antony (or Anthony) Sherley (1565–1630), a picturesque gentleman-adventurer, the first Englishman to mention coffee drinking in the Orient, sailed from Venice on a kind of self-appointed, informal Persian mission, to invite the shah to ally himself with the Christian princes against the Turks, and incidentally, to promote English trade interests in the East. The English government knew nothing of the arrangement, disavowed him, and forbade his return to England. However, the[Pg 36] expedition got to Persia; and the account of the voyage thither was written by William Parry, one of the Sherley party, and was published in London in 1601. It is interesting because it contains the first printed reference to coffee in English employing the more modern form of the word. The original reference was photographed for this work in the Worth Library of the British Museum, and is reproduced herewith on page 39.

The passage is part of an account of the manners and customs of the Turks (who, Parry says, are "damned infidells") in Aleppo. It reads:

They sit at their meat (which is served to them upon the ground) as Tailers sit upon their stalls, crosse-legd; for the most part, passing the day in banqueting and carowsing, untill they surfet, drinking a certaine liquor, which they do call Coffe, which is made of seede much like mustard seede, which will soone intoxicate the braine like our Metheglin.[50]

Another early English reference to coffee, wherein the word is spelled "coffa", is in Captain John Smith's book of Travels and Adventure, published in 1603. He says of the Turks: "Their best drink is coffa of a graine they call coava."

This is the same Captain John Smith who in 1607 became the founder of the Colony of Virginia and brought with him to America probably the earliest knowledge of the beverage given to the new Western world.

Samuel Purchas (1527–1626), an early English collector of travels, in Purchas His Pilgrimes, under the head of "Observations of William Finch, merchant, at Socotra" (Sokotra—an island in the Indian Ocean) in 1607, says of the Arab inhabitants:

Their best entertainment is a china dish of Coho, a blacke bitterish drinke, made of a berry like a bayberry, brought from Mecca, supped off hot, good for the head and stomache.[51]

Still other early and favorite English references to coffee are those to be found in the Travels of William Biddulph. This work was published in 1609. It is entitled The Travels of Certayne Englishmen in Africa, Asia, etc.... Begunne in 1600 and by some of them finished—this yeere 1608. These references are also reproduced herewith from the black-letter originals in the British Museum (see page 40).

Biddulph's description of the drink, and of the coffee-house customs of the Turks, was the first detailed account to be written by an Englishman. It also appears in Purchas His Pilgrimes (1625). But, to quote:

Their most common drinke is Coffa, which is a blacke kinde of drinke, made of a kind of Pulse like Pease, called Coaua; which being grownd in the Mill, and boiled in water, they drinke it as hot as they can suffer it; which they finde to agree very well with them against their crudities, and feeding on hearbs and rawe meates. Other compounded drinkes they have, called Sherbet, made of Water and Sugar, or Hony, with Snow therein to make it coole; for although the Countrey bee hot, yet they keepe Snow all the yeere long to coole their drinke. It is accounted a great curtesie amongst them to give unto their frends when they come to visit them, a Fin-ion or Scudella of Coffa, which is more holesome than toothsome, for it causeth good concoction, and driveth away drowsinesse.

Some of them will also drinke Bersh or Opium, which maketh them forget themselves, and talk idely of Castles in the Ayre, as though they saw Visions, and heard Revelations. Their Coffa houses are more common than Ale-houses in England; but they use not so much to sit in the houses, as on benches on both sides the streets, neere unto a Coffa house, every man with his Fin-ionful; which being smoking hot, they use to put it to their Noses & Eares, and then sup it off by leasure, being full of idle and Ale-house talke whiles they are amongst themselves drinking it; if there be any news, it is talked of there.

Among other early English references to coffee we find an interesting one by Sir George Sandys (1577–1644), the poet, who gave a start to classical scholarship in America by translating Ovid's Metamorphoses during his pioneer days in Virginia. In 1610 he spent a year in Turkey, Egypt, and Palestine, and records of the Turks:[52]

Although they be destitute of Taverns, yet have they their Coffa-houses, which something resemble them. There sit they chatting most of the day; and sippe of a drinke called Coffa (of the berry that it is made of) in little China dishes as hot as they can suffer it: blacke as soote, and tasting not much unlike it (why not that blacke broth which was in use amongst the Lacedemonians?) which helpeth, as they say, digestion, and procureth alacrity: many of the Coffa-men keeping beautifull boyes, who serve as stales to procure them customers.

Edward Terry (1590–1660), an English traveler, writes, under date of 1616, that many of the best people in India who are strict in their religion and drink no wine at all, "use a liquor more wholesome than pleasant, they call coffee; made by a black Seed boyld in water, which turnes it almost into the same colour, but doth very little alter the taste of the water [!], notwithstanding it is very good to help Digestion, to quicken the Spirits and to cleanse the Blood."

[Pg 37]


It appears as Chaona (chaoua) in the second line of the roman text notation by Paludanus

[Pg 38]

In 1623, Francis Bacon (1561–1626), in his Historia Vitae et Mortis says: "The Turkes use a kind of herb which they call caphe"; and, in 1624, in his Sylva Sylvarum[53] (published in 1627, after his death), he writes:

They have in Turkey a drink called coffa made of a berry of the same name, as black as soot, and of a strong scent, but not aromatical; which they take, beaten into powder, in water, as hot as they can drink it: and they take it, and sit at it in their coffa-houses, which are like our taverns. This drink comforteth the brain and heart, and helpeth digestion. Certainly this berry coffa, the root and leaf betel, the leaf tobacco, and the tear of poppy (opium) of which the Turks are great takers (supposing it expelleth all fear), do all condense the spirits, and make them strong and aleger. But it seemeth they were taken after several manners; for coffa and opium are taken down, tobacco but in smoke, and betel is but champed in the mouth with a little lime.

Robert Burton (1577–1640), English philosopher and humorist, in his Anatomy of Melancholy[54] writes in 1632:

The Turkes have a drinke called coffa (for they use no wine), so named of a berry as blacke as soot and as bitter (like that blacke drinke which was in use amongst the Lacedemonians and perhaps the same), which they sip still of, and sup as warme as they can suffer; they spend much time in those coffa-houses, which are somewhat like our Ale-houses or Taverns, and there they sit, chatting and drinking, to drive away the time, and to be merry together, because they find, by experience, that kinde of drinke so used, helpeth digestion and procureth alacrity.

Later English scholars, however, found sufficient evidence in the works of Arabian authors to assure their readers that coffee sometimes breeds melancholy, causes headache, and "maketh lean much." One of these, Dr. Pocoke, (1659: see chapter III) stated that, "he that would drink it for livelinesse sake, and to discusse slothfulnesse ... let him use much sweet meates with it, and oyle of pistaccioes, and butter. Some drink it with milk, but it is an error, and such as may bring in danger of the leprosy." Another writer observed that any ill effects caused by coffee, unlike those of tea, etc., ceased when its use was discontinued. In this connection it is interesting to note that in 1785 Dr. Benjamin Mosely, physician to the Chelsea Hospital, member of the College of Physicians, etc., probably having in mind the popular idea that the Arabic original of the word coffee meant force, or vigor, once expressed the hope that the coffee drink might return to popular favor in England as "a cheap substitute for those enervating teas and beverages which produce the pernicious habit of dram-drinking."

About 1628, Sir Thomas Herbert (1606–1681), English traveler and writer, records among his observations on the Persians that:

"They drink above all the rest Coho or Copha: by Turk and Arab called Caphe and Cahua: a drink imitating that in the Stigian lake, black, thick, and bitter: destrain'd from Bunchy, Bunnu, or Bay berries; wholesome, they say, if hot, for it expels melancholy ... but not so much regarded for those good properties, as from a Romance that it was invented and brew'd by Gabriel ... to restore the decayed radical Moysture of kind hearted Mahomet.'[55]

In 1634, Sir Henry Blount (1602–82), sometimes referred to as "the father of the English coffee house," made a journey on a Venetian galley into the Levant. He was invited to drink cauphe in the presence of Amurath IV; and later, in Egypt, he tells of being served the beverage again "in a porcelaine dish". This is how he describes the drink in Turkey:[56]

They have another drink not good at meat, called Cauphe, made of a Berry as big as a small Bean, dried in a Furnace, and beat to Pouder, of a Soot-colour, in taste a little bitterish, that they seeth and drink as hot as may be endured: It is good all hours of the day, but especially morning and evening, when to that purpose, they entertain themselves two or three hours in Cauphe-houses, which in all Turkey abound more than Inns and Ale-houses with us; it is thought to be the old black broth used so much by the Lacedemonians, and dryeth ill Humours in the stomach, comforteth the Brain, never causeth Drunkenness or any other Surfeit, and is a harmless entertainment of good Fellowship; for there upon Scaffolds half a yard high, and covered with Mats, they sit Cross-leg'd after the Turkish manner, many times two or three hundred together, talking, and likely with some poor musick passing up and down.

[Pg 39]


Photographed from the black-letter original of W. Parry's book in the Worth Library of the British Museum

[Pg 40]

This reference to the Lacedæmonian black broth, first by Sandys, then by Burton, again by Blount, and concurred in by James Howell (1595–1666), the first historiographer royal, gave rise to considerable controversy among Englishmen of letters in later years. It is, of course, a gratuitous speculation. The black broth of the Lacedæmonians was "pork, cooked in blood and seasoned with salt and vinegar.[57]"

References to Coffee as Found in Biddulph's Travels 1609 References to Coffee as Found in Biddulph's Travels 1609

From the black-letter original in the British Museum

William Harvey (1578–1657), the famous English physician who discovered the circulation of the blood, and his brother are reputed to have used coffee before coffee houses came into vogue in London—this must have been previous to 1652. "I remember", says Aubrey[58], "he was wont to drinke coffee; which his brother Eliab did, before coffee houses were the fashion in London." Houghton, in 1701, speaks of "the famous inventor of the circulation of the blood, Dr. Harvey, who some say did frequently use it."

Although it seems likely that coffee must have been introduced into England sometime during the first quarter of the seventeenth century, with so many writers and travelers describing it, and with so much trading going on between the merchants of the British Isles and the Orient, yet the first reliable record we have of its advent is to be found in the Diary and Correspondence of John Evelyn, F.R.S.[59], under "Notes of 1637", where he says:

There came in my time to the college (Baliol, Oxford) one Nathaniel Conopios, out of Greece, from Cyrill, the Patriarch of Constantinople, who, returning many years after was made (as I understand) Bishop of Smyrna. He was the first I ever saw drink coffee; which custom came not into England till thirty years thereafter.

Evelyn should have said thirteen years after; for then it was that the first coffee house was opened (1650).

Conopios was a native of Crete, trained in the Greek church. He became primore[Pg 41] to Cyrill, Patriarch of Constantinople. When Cyrill was strangled by the vizier, Conopios fled to England to avoid a like barbarity. He came with credentials to Archbishop Laud, who allowed him maintenance in Balliol College.

It was observed that while he continued in Balliol College he made the drink for his own use called Coffey, and usually drank it every morning, being the first, as the antients of that House have informed me, that was ever drank in Oxon.[60]

Mol's Coffee House, Exeter, England, Now Worth's Art Rooms Mol's Coffee House, Exeter, England, Now Worth's Art Rooms

In 1640 John Parkinson (1567–1650), English botanist and herbalist, published his Theatrum Botanicum[61], containing the first botanical description of the coffee plant in English, referred to as "Arbor Bon cum sua Buna. The Turkes Berry Drinke".

His work being somewhat rare, it may be of historical interest to quote the quaint description here:

Alpinus, in his Booke of Egiptian plants, giveth us a description of this tree, which as hee saith, hee saw in the garden of a certain Captaine of the Ianissaries, which was brought out of Arabia felix and there planted as a rarity, never seene growing in those places before.

The tree, saith Alpinus, is somewhat like unto the Evonymus Pricketimber tree, whose leaves were thicker, harder, and greener, and always abiding greene on the tree; the fruite is called Buna and is somewhat bigger then an Hazell Nut and longer, round also, and pointed at the end, furrowed also on both sides, yet on one side more conspicuous than the other, that it might be parted in two, in each side whereof lyeth a small long white kernell, flat on that side they joyne together, covered with a yellowish skinne, of an acid taste, and somewhat bitter withall and contained in a thinne shell, of a darkish ash-color; with these berries generally in Arabia and Egipt, and in other places of the Turkes Dominions, they make a decoction or drinke, which is in the stead of Wine to them, and generally sold in all their tappe houses, called by the name of Caova; Paludanus saith Chaova, and Rauwolfius Chaube.

This drinke hath many good physical properties therein; for it strengthened a week stomacke, helpeth digestion, and the tumors and obstructions of the liver and spleene, being drunke fasting for some time together.

In 1650, a certain Jew from Lebanon, in some accounts Jacob or Jacobs by name, in others Jobson[62], opened "at the Angel in the parish of St. Peter in the East", Oxford, the earliest English coffee house and "there it [coffee] was by some who delighted in noveltie, drank". Chocolate was also sold at this first coffee house.

Authorities differ, but the confusion as to the name of the coffee-house keeper may have arisen from the fact that there were two—Jacobs, who began in 1650; and another, Cirques Jobson, a Jewish Jacobite, who followed him in 1654.

The drink at once attained great favor among the students. Soon it was in such demand that about 1655 a society of young students encouraged one Arthur Tillyard, "apothecary and Royalist," to sell "coffey publickly in his house against All Soules College." It appears that a club composed of admirers of the young Charles met at Tillyard's and continued until after the Restoration. This Oxford Coffee Club was the start of the Royal Society.

[Pg 42]

Jacobs removed to Old Southhampton Buildings, London, where he was in 1671.

Meanwhile, the first coffee house in London had been opened by Pasqua Rosée in 1652; and, as the remainder of the story of coffee's rise and fall in England centers around the coffee houses of old London, we shall reserve it for a separate chapter.

Early English Reference to Coffee by Sir George Sandys Early English Reference to Coffee by Sir George Sandys

From the seventh edition of Sandys' Travels, London, 1673

Of course, the coffee-house idea, and the use of coffee in the home, quickly spread to other cities in Great Britain; but all the coffee houses were patterned after the London model. Mol's coffee house at Exeter, Devonshire, which is pictured on page 41, was one of the first coffee houses established in England, and may be regarded as typical of those that sprang up in the provinces. It had previously been a noted club house; and the old hall, beautifully paneled with oak, still displays the arms of noted members. Here Sir Walter Raleigh and congenial friends regaled themselves with smoking tobacco. This was one of the first places where tobacco was smoked in England. It is now an art gallery.

When the Bishop of Berytus (Beirut) was on his way to Cochin China in 1666, he reported that the Turks used coffee to correct the indisposition caused in the stomach by the bad water. "This drink," he says, "imitates the effect of wine ... has not an agreeable taste but rather bitter, yet it is much used by these people for the good effects they find therein."

In 1686, John Ray (1628–1704), one of the most celebrated of English naturalists, published his Universal History of Plants, notable among other things for being the first work of its kind to extol the virtues of coffee in a scientific treatise.

R. Bradley, professor of botany at Cambridge, published (1714) A Short Historical Account of Coffee, all trace of which appears to be lost.

Dr. James Douglas published in London (1727) his Arbor Yemensis fructum Cofe ferens; or, a description and History of the Coffee Tree, in which he laid under heavy contribution the Arabian and French writers that had preceded him.

Coffee Pot

[Pg 43]

Chapter VII


How the enterprising Dutch traders captured the first world's market for coffee—Activities of the Netherlands East India Company—The first coffee house at the Hague—The first public auction at Amsterdam in 1711, when Java coffee brought forty-seven cents a pound, green

The Dutch had early knowledge of coffee because of their dealings with the Orient and with the Venetians, and of their nearness to Germany, where Rauwolf first wrote about it in 1582. They were familiar with Alpini's writings on the subject in 1592. Paludanus, in his coffee note on Linschoten's Travels, furnished further enlightenment in 1598.

The Dutch were always great merchants and shrewd traders. Being of a practical turn of mind, they conceived an ambition to grow coffee in their colonial possessions, so as to make their home markets headquarters for a world's trade in the product. In considering modern coffee-trading, the Netherlands East India Company may be said to be the pioneer, as it established in Java one of the first experimental gardens for coffee cultivation.

The Netherlands East India Company was formed in 1602. As early as 1614, Dutch traders visited Aden to examine into the possibilities of coffee and coffee-trading. In 1616 Pieter Van dan Broeck brought the first coffee from Mocha to Holland. In 1640 a Dutch merchant, named Wurffbain, offered for sale in Amsterdam the first commercial shipment of coffee from Mocha. As indicating the enterprise of the Dutch, note that this was four years before the beverage was introduced into France, and only three years after Conopios had privately instituted the breakfast coffee cup at Oxford.

About 1650, Varnar, the Dutch minister resident at the Ottoman Porte, published a treatise on coffee.

When the Dutch at last drove the Portuguese out of Ceylon in 1658, they began the cultivation of coffee there, although the plant had been introduced into the island by the Arabs prior to the Portuguese invasion in 1505. However, it was not until 1690 that the more systematic cultivation of the coffee plant by the Dutch was undertaken in Ceylon.

Regular imports of coffee from Mocha to Amsterdam began in 1663. Later, supplies began to arrive from the Malabar coast.

Pasqua Rosée, who introduced the coffee house into London in 1652, is said to have made coffee popular as a beverage in Holland by selling it there publicly in 1664. The first coffee house was opened in the Korten Voorhout, the Hague, under the protection of the writer Van Essen; others soon followed in Amsterdam and Haarlem.

At the instigation of Nicolaas Witsen, burgomaster of Amsterdam and governor of the East India Company, Adrian Van Ommen, commander of Malabar, sent the first Arabian coffee seedlings to Java in 1696, recorded in the chapter on the history of coffee propagation. These were destroyed by flood, but were followed in 1699 by a second shipment, from which developed the coffee trade of the Netherlands East Indies, that made Java coffee a household word in every civilized country.

[Pg 44]

A trial shipment of the coffee grown near Batavia was received at Amsterdam in 1706, also a plant for the botanical gardens. This plant subsequently became the progenitor of most of the coffees of the West Indies and America.

The first Java coffee for the trade was received at Amsterdam 1711. The shipment consisted of 894 pounds from the Jakatra plantations and from the interior of the island. At the first public auction, this coffee brought twenty-three and two-thirds stuivers (about forty-seven cents) per Amsterdam pound.

The Netherlands East India Company contracted with the regents of Netherlands India for the compulsory delivery of coffee; and the natives were enjoined to cultivate coffee, the production thus becoming a forced industry worked by government. A "general system of cultivation" was introduced into Java in 1832 by the government, which decreed the employment of forced labor for different products. Coffee-growing was the only forced industry that existed before this system of cultivation, and it was the only government cultivation that survived the abolition of the system in 1905–08. The last direct government interest in coffee was closed out in 1918. From 1870 to 1874, the government plantations yielded an average of 844,854 piculs[63] a year; from 1875 to 1878, the average was 866,674 piculs. Between 1879 and 1883, it rose to 987,682 piculs. From 1884 to 1888, the average annual yield was only 629,942 piculs.

Holland readily adopted the coffee house; and among the earliest coffee pictures preserved to us is one depicting a scene in a Dutch coffee house of the seventeenth century, the work of Adriaen Van Ostade (1610–1675), shown on page 586.

History records no intolerance of coffee in Holland. The Dutch attitude was ever that of the constructionist. Dutch inventors and artisans gave us many new designs in coffee mortars, coffee roasters, and coffee serving-pots.

Coffee Pot

[Pg 45]

Chapter VIII


The contributions made by German travelers and writers to the literature of the early history of coffee—The first coffee house in Hamburg opened by an English merchant—Famous coffee houses of old Berlin—The first coffee periodical, and the first kaffee-klatsch—Frederick the Great's coffee-roasting monopoly—Coffee persecutions—"Coffee-smellers"—The first coffee king

As we have already seen, Leonhard Rauwolf, in 1573, made his memorable trip to Aleppo and, in 1582, won for Germany the honor of being the first European country to make printed mention of the coffee drink.

Adam Olearius (or Oelschlager), a German Orientalist (1599–1671), traveled in Persia as secretary to a German embassy in 1633–36. Upon his return he published an account of his journeys. In it, under date of 1637, he says of the Persians:

They drink with their tobacco a certain black water, which they call cahwa, made of a fruit brought out of Egypt, and which is in colour like ordinary wheat, and in taste like Turkish wheat, and is of the bigness of a little bean.... The Persians think it allays the natural heat.

In 1637, Joh. Albrecht von Mandelsloh, in his Oriental Trip, mentions "the black water of the Persians called Kahwe", saying "it must be drunk hot."

Coffee drinking was introduced into Germany about 1670. The drink appeared at the court of the great elector of Brandenburg in 1675. Northern Germany got its first taste of the beverage from London, an English merchant opening the first coffee house in Hamburg in 1679–80. Regensburg followed in 1689; Leipsic, in 1694; Nuremberg, in 1696; Stuttgart, in 1712; Augsburg, in 1713; and Berlin, in 1721. In that year (1721) King Frederick William I granted a foreigner the privilege of conducting a coffee house in Berlin free of all rental charges. It was known as the English coffee house, as was also the first coffee house in Hamburg. And for many years, English merchants supplied the coffees consumed in northern Germany; while Italy supplied southern Germany.

Other well known coffee houses of old Berlin were, the Royal, in Behren Strasse; that of the Widow Doebbert, in the Stechbahn; the City of Rome, in Unter-den-Linden; Arnoldi, in Kronen Strasse; Miercke, in Tauben Strasse, and Schmidt, in Post Strasse.

Later, Philipp Falck opened a Jewish coffee house in Spandauer Strasse. In the time of Frederick the Great (1712–1786) there were at least a dozen coffee houses in the metropolitan district of Berlin. In the suburbs were many tents where coffee was served.

The first coffee periodical, The New and Curious Coffee House, was issued in Leipsic in 1707 by Theophilo Georgi. The full title was The New and Curious Coffee House, formerly in Italy but now opened in Germany. First water debauchery. "City of the Well." Brunnenstadt by Lorentz Schoepffwasser [draw-water] 1707. The second issue gave the name of Georgi as the real publisher. It was intended to be in the nature of an organ for the first real German kaffee-klatsch. It was a chronicle of the comings and goings of the savants[Pg 46] who frequented the "Tusculum" of a well-to-do gentleman in the outskirts of the city. At the beginning the master of the house declared:

I know that the gentlemen here speak French, Italian and other languages. I know also that in many coffee and tea meetings it is considered requisite that French be spoken. May I ask, however, that he who calls upon me should use no other language but German. We are all Germans, we are in Germany; shall we not conduct ourselves like true Germans?

In 1721 Leonhard Ferdinand Meisner published at Nuremberg the first comprehensive German treatise on coffee, tea, and chocolate.

During the second half of the eighteenth century coffee entered the homes, and began to supplant flour-soup and warm beer at breakfast tables.

Meanwhile coffee met with some opposition in Prussia and Hanover. Frederick the Great became annoyed when he saw how much money was paid to foreign coffee merchants for supplies of the green bean, and tried to restrict its use by making coffee a drink of the "quality". Soon all the German courts had their own coffee roasters, coffee pots, and coffee cups.

Many beautiful specimens of the finest porcelain cups and saucers made in Meissen, and used at court fêtes of this period, survive in the collections at the Potsdam and Berlin museums. The wealthy classes followed suit; but when the poor grumbled because they could not afford the luxury, and demanded their coffee, they were told in effect: "You had better leave it alone. Anyhow, it's bad for you because it causes sterility." Many doctors lent themselves to a campaign against coffee, one of their favorite arguments being that women using the beverage must forego child-bearing. Bach's Coffee Cantata[64] (1732) was a notable protest in music against such libels.

On September 13, 1777, Frederick issued a coffee and beer manifesto, a curious document, which recited:

It is disgusting to notice the increase in the quantity of coffee used by my subjects, and the amount of money that goes out of the country in consequence. Everybody is using coffee. If possible, this must be prevented. My people must drink beer. His Majesty was brought up on beer, and so were his ancestors, and his officers. Many battles have been fought and won by soldiers nourished on beer; and the King does not believe that coffee-drinking soldiers can be depended upon to endure hardship or to beat his enemies in case of the occurrence of another war.

Richter's Coffee House in Leipsic—Seventeenth Century Richter's Coffee House in Leipsic—Seventeenth Century

For a time beer was restored to its honored place; and coffee continued to be a luxury afforded only by the rich. Soon a revulsion of feeling set in; and it was found that even Prussian military rule could not enforce coffee prohibition. Whereupon, in 1781, finding that all his efforts to reserve the beverage for the exclusive court circles, the nobility, and the officers of his army, were vain, the king created a royal monopoly in coffee, and forbade its roasting except in royal roasting establishments. At the same time, he made exceptions in the cases of the nobility, the clergy, and government officials; but rejected all applications for coffee-roasting licenses from the common people. His object, plainly, was to confine the use of the drink to the elect. To these representatives of the cream of Prussian society, the king issued special licenses permitting them to do their own roasting. Of course, they purchased their supplies from the government; and as the price was enormously increased, the sales yielded Frederick a handsome income. Incidentally, the possession of a coffee-roasting license became a kind of badge of membership in the upper class. The poorer classes were forced to get their coffee by stealth; and, failing this, they fell back upon numerous barley, wheat, corn, chicory, and dried-fig substitutes, that soon appeared in great numbers.

This singular coffee ordinance was known as the "Déclaration du Roi concernant la vente du café brûlé", and was published January 21, 1781.

[Pg 47]

Coffee House in Germany—Middle of the Seventeenth Century Coffee House in Germany—Middle of the Seventeenth Century

After placing the coffee regie (revenue) in the hands of a Frenchman, Count de Lannay, so many deputies were required to make collections that the administration of the law became a veritable persecution. Discharged wounded soldiers were mostly employed, and their principal duty was to spy upon the people day and night, following the smell of roasting coffee whenever detected, in order to seek out those who might be found without roasting permits. The spies were given one-fourth of the fine collected. These deputies made themselves so great a nuisance, and became so cordially disliked, that they were called "coffee-smellers" by the indignant people.

Taking a leaf out of Frederick's book, the elector of Cologne, Maximilian Frederick, bishop of Münster, (Duchy of Westphalia) on February 17, 1784, issued a manifesto which said:

To our great displeasure we have learned that in our Duchy of Westphalia the misuse of the coffee beverage has become so extended that to counteract the evil we command that four weeks after the publication of this decree no one shall sell coffee roasted or not roasted under a fine of one hundred dollars, or two years in prison, for each offense.

Every coffee-roasting and coffee-serving place shall be closed, and dealers and hotel-keepers are to get rid of their coffee supplies in four weeks. It is only permitted to obtain from the outside coffee for one's own consumption in lots of fifty pounds. House fathers and mothers shall not allow their work people, especially their washing and ironing women, to prepare coffee, or to allow it in any manner under a penalty of one hundred dollars.

All officials and government employees, to avoid a penalty of one hundred gold florins, are called upon closely to follow and to keep a watchful eye over this decree. To the one who reports such persons as act contrary to this decree shall be granted one-half of the said money fine with absolute silence as to his name.

This decree was solemnly read in the pulpits, and was published besides in the usual places and ways. There immediately followed a course of "telling-ons", and of "coffee-smellings", that led to many bitter enmities and caused much unhappiness in the Duchy of Westphalia. Apparently the purpose of the archduke was to prevent persons of small means from enjoying the drink, while those who could afford to purchase fifty pounds at a time were to be permitted the indulgence. As was to be expected, the scheme was a complete failure.

While the king of Prussia exploited his subjects by using the state coffee monopoly as a means of extortion, the duke of Württemberg had a scheme of his own. He sold to Joseph Suess-Oppenheimer, an unscrupulous financier, the exclusive privilege of keeping coffee houses in Württemberg. Suess-Oppenheimer in turn sold the individual coffee-house licenses to the highest bidders, and accumulated a considerable fortune. He was the first "coffee king."

But coffee outlived all these unjust slanders and cruel taxations of too paternal governments, and gradually took its rightful place as one of the favorite beverages of the German people.

[Pg 48]

From a lithograph after the painting by Franz Schams, entitled "Das Erste (Kulczycki'sche) Kaffee Haus"

[Pg 49]

Chapter IX


The romantic adventure of Franz George Kolschitzky, who carried "a message to Garcia" through the enemy's lines and won for himself the honor of being the first to teach the Viennese the art of making coffee, to say nothing of falling heir to the supplies of the green beans left behind by the Turks; also the gift of a house from a grateful municipality, and a statue after death—Affectionate regard in which "brother-heart" Kolschitzky is held as the patron saint of the Vienna kaffee-sieder—Life in the early Vienna cafés

A romantic tale has been woven around the introduction of coffee into Austria. When Vienna was besieged by the Turks in 1683, so runs the legend, Franz George Kolschitzky, a native of Poland, formerly an interpreter in the Turkish army, saved the city and won for himself undying fame, with coffee as his principal reward.

It is not known whether, in the first siege of Vienna by the Turks in 1529, the invaders boiled coffee over their camp fires that surrounded the Austrian capital; although they might have done so, as Selim I, after conquering Egypt in 1517, had brought with him to Constantinople large stores of coffee as part of his booty. But it is certain that when they returned to the attack, 154 years later, they carried with them a plentiful supply of the green beans.

Mohammed IV mobilized an army of 300,000 men and sent it forth under his vizier, Kara Mustapha, (Kuprili's successor) to destroy Christendom and to conquer Europe. Reaching Vienna July 7, 1683, the army quickly invested the city and cut it off from the world. Emperor Leopold had escaped the net and was several miles away. Nearby was the prince of Lorraine, with an army of 33,000 Austrians, awaiting the succor promised by John Sobieski, king of Poland, and an opportunity to relieve the besieged capital. Count Rudiger von Starhemberg, in command of the forces in Vienna, called for a volunteer to carry a message through the Turkish lines to hurry along the rescue. He found him in the person of Franz George Kolschitzky, who had lived for many years among the Turks and knew their language and customs.

On August 13, 1683, Kolschitzky donned a Turkish uniform, passed through the enemy's lines and reached the Emperor's army across the Danube. Several times he made the perilous journey between the camp of the prince of Lorraine and the garrison of the governor of Vienna. One account says that he had to swim the four intervening arms of the Danube each time he performed the feat. His messages did much to keep up the morale of the city's defenders. At length King John and his army of rescuing Poles arrived and were consolidated with the Austrians on the summit of Mount Kahlenberg. It was one of the most dramatic moments in history. The fate of Christian Europe hung in the balance. Everything seemed to point to the triumph of the crescent over the cross. Once again Kolschitzky crossed the Danube, and brought back word concerning the signals that the prince of Lorraine and King John[Pg 50] would give from Mount Kahlenberg to indicate the beginning of the attack. Count Starhemberg was to make a sortie at the same time.

Franz George Kolschitzky, Patron Saint of Vienna Coffee Lovers Franz George Kolschitzky, Patron Saint of Vienna Coffee Lovers

The battle took place September 12, and thanks to the magnificent generalship of King John, the Turks were routed. The Poles here rendered a never-to-be-forgotten service to all Christendom. The Turkish invaders fled, leaving 25,000 tents, 10,000 oxen, 5,000 camels, 100,000 bushels of grain, a great quantity of gold, and many sacks filled with coffee—at that time unknown in Vienna. The booty was distributed; but no one wanted the coffee. They did not know what to do with it; that is, no one except Kolschitzky. He said, "If nobody wants those sacks, I will take them", and every one was heartily glad to be rid of the strange beans. But Kolschitzky knew what he was about, and he soon taught the Viennese the art of preparing coffee. Later, he established the first public booth where Turkish coffee was served in Vienna.

This, then, is the story of how coffee was introduced into Vienna, where was developed that typical Vienna café which has become a model for a large part of the world. Kolschitzky is honored in Vienna as the patron saint of coffee houses. His followers, united in the guild of coffee makers (kaffee-sieder), even erected a statue in his honor. It still stands as part of the facade of a house where the Kolschitzygasse merges into the Favoritengasse, as shown in the accompanying picture.

Vienna is sometimes referred to as the "mother of cafés". Café Sacher is world-renowned. Tart à la Sacher is to be found in every cook-book. The Viennese have their "jause" every afternoon. When one drinks coffee at a Vienna café one generally has a kipfel with it. This is a crescent-shaped roll—baked for the first time in the eventful year 1683, when the Turks besieged the city. A baker made these crescent rolls in a spirit of defiance of the Turk. Holding sword in one hand and kipfel in the other, the Viennese would show themselves on top of their redoubts and challenge the cohorts of Mohammed IV.

Mohammed IV was deposed after losing the battle, and Kara Mustapha was executed for leaving the stores—particularly the sacks of coffee beans—at the gates of Vienna; but Vienna coffee and Vienna kipfel are still alive, and their appeal is not lessened by the years.

The First Coffee House in the Leopoldstadt The First Coffee House in the Leopoldstadt

From a cut so titled in Bermann's Alt und Neu Wien

The hero Kolschitzky was presented with a house by the grateful municipality; and there, at the sign of the Blue Bottle, according to one account, he continued as a coffee-house keeper for many years.[65] This, in brief, is the story that—although not[Pg 51] authenticated in all its particulars—is seriously related in many books, and is firmly believed throughout Vienna.

It seems a pity to discredit the hero of so romantic an adventure; but the archives of Vienna throw a light upon Kolschitzky's later conduct that tends to show that, after all, this Viennese idol's feet were of common clay.

It is said that Kolschitzky, after receiving the sacks of green coffee left behind by the Turks, at once began to peddle the beverage from house to house, serving it in little cups from a wooden platter. Later he rented a shop in Bischof-hof. Then he began to petition the municipal council, that, in addition to the sum of 100 ducats already promised him as further recognition of his valor, he should receive a house with good will attached; that is, a shop in some growing business section. "His petitions to the municipal council", writes M. Bermann[66], "are amazing examples of measureless self-conceit and the boldest greed. He seemed determined to get the utmost out of his own self-sacrifice. He insisted upon the most highly deserved reward, such as the Romans bestowed upon their Curtius, the Lacedæmonians upon their Pompilius, the Athenians upon Seneca, with whom he modestly compared himself."

At last, he was given his choice of three houses in the Leopoldstadt, any one of them worth from 400 to 450 gulden, in place of the money reward, that had been fixed by a compromise agreement at 300 gulden. But Kolschitzky was not satisfied with this; and urged that if he was to accept a house in full payment it should be one valued at not less than 1000 gulden. Then ensued much correspondence and considerable haggling. To put an end to the acrimonious dispute, the municipal council in 1685 directed that there should be deeded over to Kolschitzky and his wife, Maria Ursula, without further argument, the house known at that time as 30 (now 8) Haidgasse.

It is further recorded that Kolschitzky sold the house within a year; and, after many moves, he died of tuberculosis, February 20, 1694, aged fifty-four years. He was courier to the emperor at the time of his death, and was buried in the Stefansfreithof Cemetery.

Statue of Kolschitzky Erected by the Coffee Makers Guild of Vienna Statue of Kolschitzky Erected by the Coffee Makers Guild of Vienna

Kolschitzky's heirs moved the coffee house to Donaustrand, near the wooden Schlagbrücke, later known as Ferdinand's brücke (bridge). The celebrated coffee house of Franz Mosee (d. 1860) stood on this same spot.

In the city records for the year 1700 a house in the Stock-im-Eisen-Platz (square) is designated by the words "allwo das erste kaffeegewölbe" ("here was the first coffee house"). Unfortunately, the name of the proprietor is not given.

Many stories are told of Kolschitzky's popularity as a coffee-house keeper. He is said to have addressed everyone as bruderherz (brother-heart) and gradually he himself acquired the name bruderherz. A portrait of Kolschitzky, painted about the time of his greatest vogue, is carefully preserved by the Innung der Wiener Kaffee-sieder (the Coffee Makers' Guild of Vienna).

[Pg 52]

Even during the lifetime of the first kaffee-sieder, a number of others opened coffee houses and acquired some little fame. Early in the eighteenth century a tourist gives us a glimpse of the progress made by coffee drinking and by the coffee-house idea in Vienna. We read:

The city of Vienna is filled with coffee houses, where the novelists or those who busy themselves with the newspapers delight to meet, to read the gazettes and discuss their contents. Some of these houses have a better reputation than others because such zeitungs-doctors (newspaper doctors—an ironical title) gather there to pass most unhesitating judgment on the weightiest events, and to surpass all others in their opinions concerning political matters and considerations.

All this wins them such respect that many congregate there because of them, and to enrich their minds with inventions and foolishness which they immediately run through the city to bring to the ears of the said personalities. It is impossible to believe what freedom is permitted, in furnishing this gossip. They speak without reverence not only of the doings of generals and ministers of state, but also mix themselves in the life of the Kaiser (Emperor) himself.

Vienna liked the coffee house so well that by 1839 there were eighty of them in the city proper and fifty more in the suburbs.

Coffee Pot

[Pg 53]

Chapter X


One of the most picturesque chapters in the history of coffee—The first coffee house in London—The first coffee handbill, and the first newspaper advertisement for coffee—Strange coffee mixtures—Fantastic coffee claims—Coffee prices and coffee licenses—Coffee club of the Rota—Early coffee-house manners and customs—Coffee-house keepers' tokens—Opposition to the coffee house—"Penny universities"—Weird coffee substitutes—The proposed coffee-house newspaper monopoly—Evolution of the club—Decline and fall of the coffee house—Pen pictures of coffee-house life—Famous coffee houses of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries—Some Old World pleasure gardens—Locating the notable coffee houses

The two most picturesque chapters in the history of coffee have to do with the period of the old London and Paris coffee houses of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Much of the poetry and romance of coffee centers around this time.

"The history of coffee houses," says D'Israeli, "ere the invention of clubs, was that of the manners, the morals and the politics of a people." And so the history of the London coffee houses of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries is indeed the history of the manners and customs of the English people of that period.

The First London Coffee House

"The first coffee house in London," says John Aubrey (1626–97), the English antiquary and folklorist, "was in St. Michael's Alley, in Cornhill, opposite to the church, which was sett up by one ... Bowman (coachman to Mr. Hodges, a Turkey merchant, who putt him upon it) in or about the yeare 1652. 'Twas about four years before any other was sett up, and that was by Mr. Farr. Jonathan Paynter, over-against to St. Michael's Church, was the first apprentice to the trade, viz., to Bowman."[67]

Another account, for which we are indebted to William Oldys (1696–1761), the bibliographer, relates that Mr. Edwards, a London merchant, acquired the coffee habit in Turkey, and brought home with him from Ragusa, in Dalmatia, Pasqua Rosée, an Armenian or Greek youth, who prepared the beverage for him. "But the novelty thereof," says Oldys, "drawing too much company to him, he allowed the said servant with another of his son-in-law to set up the first coffee house in London at St. Michael's Alley, in Cornhill."

From this it would appear that Pasqua Rosée had as partner in this enterprise, the Bowman, who, according to Aubrey, was coachman to Mr. Hodges, the son-in-law of Mr. Edwards, and a fellow merchant traveler.

Oldys tells us that Rosée and Bowman soon separated. John Timbs (1801–1875), another English antiquary, says they quarreled, Rosée keeping the house, and his[Pg 54] partner Bowman obtaining leave to pitch a tent and to sell the drink in St. Michael's churchyard.

Still another version of this historic incident is to be found in Houghton's Collection, 1698. It reads:

It appears that a Mr. Daniel Edwards, an English merchant of Smyrna, brought with him to this country a Greek of the name of Pasqua, in 1652, who made his coffee; this Mr. Edwards married one Alderman Hodges's daughter, who lived in Walbrook, and set up Pasqua for a coffee man in a shed in the churchyard in St. Michael, Cornhill, which is now a scrivener's brave-house, when, having great custom, the ale-sellers petitioned the Lord Mayor against him as being no freeman. This made Alderman Hodges join his coachman, Bowman, who was free, as Pasqua's partner; but Pasqua, for some misdemeanor, was forced to run the country, and Bowman, by his trade and a contribution of 1000 sixpences, turned the shed to a house. Bowman's apprentices were first, John Painter, then Humphry, from whose wife I had this account.

This account makes it appear that Edwards was Hodges' son-in-law. Whatever the relationship, most authorities agree that Pasqua Rosée was the first to sell coffee publicly, whether in a tent or shed, in London in or about the year 1652. His original shop-bill, or handbill, the first advertisement for coffee, is in the British Museum, and from it the accompanying photograph was made for this work. It sets forth in direct fashion: "The Vertue of the COFFEE Drink First publiquely made and sold in England, by Pasqua Rosée ... in St. Michaels Alley in Cornhill ... at the Signe of his own Head."[68]

H.R. Fox Bourne[69] (about 1870) is alone in an altogether different version of this historic event. He says:

"In 1652 Sir Nicholas Crispe, a Levant merchant, opened in London the first coffee house known in England, the beverage being prepared by a Greek girl brought over for the work."

There is nothing to substantiate this story; the preponderance of evidence is in support of the Edwards-Rosée version.

Such then was the advent of the coffee house in London, which introduced to English-speaking people the drink of democracy. Oddly enough, coffee and the Commonwealth came in together. The English coffee house, like its French contemporary, was the home of liberty.

Robinson, who accepts that version of the event wherein Edwards marries Hodges's daughter, says that after the partners Rosée and Bowman separated, and Bowman had set up his tent opposite Rosée, a zealous partisan addressed these verses "To Pasqua Rosée, at the Sign of his own Head and half his Body in St. Michael's Alley, next the first Coffee-Tent in London":

Were not the fountain of my Tears
Each day exhausted by the steam
Of your Coffee, no doubt appears
But they would swell to such a stream
As could admit of no restriction
To see, poor Pasqua, thy Affliction.

What! Pasqua, you at first did broach
This Nectar for the publick Good,
Must you call Kitt down from the Coach
To drive a Trade he understood
No more than you did then your creed,
Or he doth now to write or read?

Pull Courage, Pasqua, fear no Harms
From the besieging Foe;
Make good your Ground, stand to your Arms,
Hold out this summer, and then tho'
He'll storm, he'll not prevail—your Face[70]
Shall give the Coffee Pot the chace.

Eventually Pasqua Rosée disappeared, some say to open a coffee house on the Continent, in Holland or Germany. Bowman, having married Alderman Hodges's cook, and having also prevailed upon about a thousand of his customers to lend him sixpence apiece, converted his tent into a substantial house, and eventually took an apprentice to the trade.

Concerning London's second coffee-house keeper, James Farr, proprietor of the Rainbow, who had as his most distinguished visitor Sir Henry Blount, Edward Hatton[71] says:

I find it recorded that one James Farr, a barber, who kept the coffee-house which is now the Rainbow, by the Inner Temple Gate (one of the first in England), was in the year 1657, prosecuted by the inquest of St Dunstan's in the West, for making and selling a sort of liquor called coffe, as a great nuisance and prejudice to the neighborhood, etc., and who would then have thought London would ever have had near three thousand such nuisances, and that coffee would have been, as now, so much drank by the best of quality and physicians?

[Pg 55]


Handbill used by Pasqua Rosée, who opened the first coffee house in London From the original in the British Museum

[Pg 56]

Hatton evidently attributed Fair's nuisance to the coffee itself, whereas the presentment[72] clearly shows it was in Farr's chimney and not in the coffee.

Mention has already been made that Sir Henry Blount was spoken of as "the father of English coffee houses" and his claim to this distinction would seem to be a valid one, for his strong personality "stamped itself upon the system." His favorite motto, "Loquendum est cum vulgo, sentiendum cum sapientibus" (the crowd may talk about it; the wise decide it), says Robinson, "expresses well their colloquial purpose, and was natural enough on the lips of one whose experience had been world wide." Aubrey says of Sir Henry Blount, "He is now neer or altogether eighty yeares, his intellectuals good still and body pretty strong."

Women played a not inconspicuous part in establishing businesses for the sale of the coffee drink in England, although the coffee houses were not for both sexes, as in other European countries. The London City Quaeries for 1660 makes mention of "a she-coffee merchant." Mary Stringar ran a coffee house in Little Trinity Lane in 1669; Anne Blunt was mistress of one of the Turk's-Head houses in Cannon Street in 1672. Mary Long was the widow of William Long, and her initials, together with those of her husband, appear on a token issued from the Rose tavern in Bridge Street, Covent Garden. Mary Long's token from the "Rose coffee house by the playhouse" in Covent Garden is shown among the group of coffee-house keepers' tokens herein illustrated.

The First Newspaper Advertisement

The first newspaper advertisement for coffee appeared, May 26, 1657, in the Publick Adviser of London, one of the first weekly pamphlets. The name of this publication was erroneously given as the Publick Advertiser by an early writer on coffee, and the error has been copied by succeeding writers. The first newspaper advertisement was contained in the issue of the Publick Adviser for the week of May 19 to May 26, and read:

In Bartholomew Lane on the back side of the Old Exchange, the drink called Coffee, (which is a very wholsom and Physical drink, having many excellent vertues, closes the Orifice of the Stomack, fortifies the heat within, helpeth Digestion, quickneth the Spirits, maketh the heart lightsom, is good against Eye-sores, Coughs, or Colds, Rhumes, Consumptions, Head-ach, Dropsie, Gout, Scurvy, Kings Evil, and many others is to be sold both in the morning, and at three of the clock in the afternoon).

Chocolate was also advertised for sale in London this same year. The issue of the Publick Adviser for June 16, 1657, contained this announcement:

In Bishopgate Street, in Queen's Head Alley, at a Frenchman's house is an excellent West India drink called chocolate, to be sold, where you may have it ready at any time, and also unmade at reasonable rates.

Tea was first sold publicly at Garraway's (or Garway's) in 1657.

Strange Coffee Mixtures

The doctors were loath to let coffee escape from the mysteries of the pharmacopœia and become "a simple and refreshing beverage" that any one might obtain for a penny in the coffee houses, or, if preferred, might prepare at home. In this they were aided and abetted by many well-meaning but misguided persons (some of them men of considerable intelligence) who seemed possessed of the idea that the coffee drink was an unpleasant medicine that needed something to take away its curse, or else that it required a complex method of preparation. Witness "Judge" Walter Rumsey's Electuary of Cophy, which appeared in 1657 in connection with a curious work of his called Organon Salutis: an instrument to cleanse the stomach.[73] The instrument itself was a flexible whale-bone, two or three feet long, with a small linen or silk button at the end, and was designed to be introduced into the stomach to produce the effect of an emetic. The electuary of coffee was to be taken by the patient before and after using the instrument, which the "judge" called his Provang. And this was the "judge's" "new and superior way of preparing coffee" as found in his prescription for making electuary of cophy:

Take equal quantity of Butter and Sallet-oyle, melt them well together, but not boyle them: Then stirre them well that they may incorporate together: Then melt therewith three times as much Honey, and stirre it well together: Then add thereunto powder of Turkish Cophie, to make it a thick Electuary.

A little consideration will convince any one that the electuary was most likely to achieve the purpose for which it was recommended.

[Pg 57]


[Pg 58]

Another concoction invented by the "judge" was known as "wash-brew", and included oatmeal, powder of "cophie", a pint of ale or any wine, ginger, honey, or sugar to please the taste; to these ingredients butter might be added and any cordial powder or pleasant spice. It was to be put into a flannel bag and "so keep it at pleasure like starch." This was a favorite medicine among the common people of Wales.

The book contained in a prefix an interesting historical document in the shape of a letter from James Howell (1595–1666) the writer and historiographer, which read:

Touching coffee, I concurre with them in opinion, who hold it to be that black-broth which was us'd of old in Lacedemon, whereof the Poets sing; Surely it must needs be salutiferous, because so many sagacious, and the wittiest sort of Nations use it so much; as they who have conversed with Shashes and Turbants doe well know. But, besides the exsiccant quality it hath to dry up the crudities of the Stomach, as also to comfort the Brain, to fortifie the sight with its steem, and prevent Dropsies, Gouts, the Scurvie, together with the Spleen and Hypocondriacall windes (all which it doth without any violance or distemper at all.) I say, besides all these qualities, 'tis found already, that this Coffee-drink hath caused a greater sobriety among the nations; for whereas formerly Apprentices and Clerks with others, used to take their mornings' draught in Ale, Beer or Wine, which by the dizziness they cause in the Brain, make many unfit for business, they use now to play the Good-fellows in this wakefull and civill drink: Therefore that worthy Gentleman, Mr. Mudiford[74], who introduced the practice hereof first to London, deserves much respect of the whole nation.

The coffee drink at one time was mixed with sugar candy, and also with mustard. In the coffee houses, however, it was usually served black; "few people then mixed it with either sugar or milk."

Fantastic Coffee Claims

One can not fail to note in connection with the introduction of coffee into England that the beverage suffered most from the indiscretions of its friends. On the one hand, the quacks of the medical profession sought to claim it for their own; and, on the other, more or less ignorant laymen attributed to the drink such virtues as its real champions among the physicians never dreamed of. It was the favorite pastime of its friends to exaggerate coffee's merits; and of its enemies, to vilify its users. All this furnished good "copy" for and against the coffee house, which became the central figure in each new controversy.

From the early English author who damned it by calling it "more wholesome than toothsome", to Pasqua Rosée and his contemporaries, who urged its more fantastic claims, it was forced to make its way through a veritable morass of misunderstanding and intolerance. No harmless drink in history has suffered more at hands of friend and foe.

Did its friends hail it as a panacea, its enemies retorted that it was a slow poison. In France and in England there were those who contended that it produced melancholy, and those who argued it was a cure for the same. Dr. Thomas Willis (1621–1673), a distinguished Oxford physician whom Antoine Portal (1742–1832) called "one of the greatest geniuses that ever lived", said he would sometimes send his patients to the coffee house rather than to the apothecary's shop. An old broadside, described later in this chapter, stressed the notion that if you "do but this Rare ARABIAN cordial use, and thou may'st all the Doctors Slops Refuse."

As a cure for drunkenness its "magic" power was acclaimed by its friends, and grudgingly admitted by its foes. This will appear presently in a description of the war of the broadsides and the pamphlets. Coffee was praised by one writer as a deodorizer. Another (Richard Bradley), in his treatise concerning its use with regard to the plague, said if its qualities had been fully known in 1665, "Dr. Hodges and other learned men of that time would have recommended it." As a matter of fact, in Gideon Harvey's Advice against the Plague, published in 1665, we find, "coffee is commended against the contagion."

This is how the drink's sobering virtue was celebrated by the author of the Rebellious Antidote:

Come, Frantick Fools, leave off your Drunken fits.
Obsequious be and I'll recall your Wits,
From perfect Madness to a modest Strain
For farthings four I'll fetch you back again,
Enable all your mene with tricks of State,
Enter and sip and then attend your Fate;
Come Drunk or Sober, for a gentle Fee,
Come n'er so Mad, I'll your Physician be.

Dr. Willis, in his Pharmaceutice Rationalis (1674), was one of the first to attempt to do justice to both sides of the coffee question. At best, he thought it a somewhat risky beverage, and its votaries must,[Pg 59] in some cases, be prepared to suffer languor and even paralysis; it may attack the heart and cause tremblings in the limbs. On the other hand it may, if judiciously used, prove a marvelous benefit; "being daily drunk it wonderfully clears and enlightens each part of the Soul and disperses all the clouds of every Function."

It was a long time before recognition was obtained for the truth about the "novelty drink"; especially that, if there were any beyond purely social virtues to be found in coffee, they were "political rather than medical."

Dr. James Duncan, of the Faculty of Montpellier, in his book Wholesome Advice against the Abuse of Hot Liquors, done into English in 1706, found coffee no more deserving of the name of panacea than that of poison.

George Cheyne (1671–1743), the noted British physician, proclaimed his neutrality in the words, "I have neither great praise nor bitter blame for the thing."

Coffee Prices and Coffee Licenses

Coffee, with tea and chocolate, was first mentioned in the English Statute books in 1660, when a duty of four pence was laid upon every gallon made and sold, "to be paid by the maker." Coffee was classed by the House of Commons with "other outlandish drinks."

It is recorded in 1662 that "the right coffee powder" was being sold at the Turk's Head coffee house in Exchange Alley for "4s. to 6s. 8d. per pound; that pounded in a mortar, 2s; East India berry, 1s. 6d.; and the right Turkie berry, well garbled [ground] at 3s. The ungarbled [in the bean] for less with directions how to use the same." Chocolate was also to be had at "2s. 6d. the pound; the perfumed from 4s. to 10s."

At one time coffee sold for five guineas a pound in England, and even forty crowns (about forty-eight dollars) a pound was paid for it.

In 1663, all English coffee houses were required to be licensed; the fee was twelve pence. Failure to obtain a license was punished by a fine of five pounds for every month's violation of the law. The coffee houses were under close surveillance by government officials. One of these was Muddiman, a good scholar and an "arch rogue", who had formerly "written for the Parliament" but who later became a paid spy. L'Estrange, who had a patent on "the sole right of intelligence", wrote in his Intelligencer that he was alarmed at the ill effects of "the ordinary written papers of Parliament's news ... making coffee houses and all the popular clubs judges of those councils and deliberations which they have nothing to do with at all."

The first royal warrant for coffee was given by Charles II to Alexander Man, a Scotsman who had followed General Monk to London, and set up in Whitehall. Here he advertised himself as "coffee man to Charles II."

Owing to increased taxes on tea, coffee, and newspapers, near the end of Queen Anne's reign (1714) coffee-house keepers generally raised their prices as follows: Coffee, two pence per dish; green tea, one and a half pence per dish. All drams, two pence per dram. At retail, coffee was then sold for five shillings per pound; while tea brought from twelve to twenty-eight shillings per pound.

Coffee Club of The Rota

"Coffee and Commonwealth", says a pamphleteer of 1665, "came in together for a Reformation, to make 's a free and sober nation." The writer argues that liberty of speech should be allowed, "where men of differing judgements croud"; and he adds, "that's a coffee-house, for where should men discourse so free as there?" Robinson's comments are apt:

Now perhaps we do not always connect the ideas of sociableness and freedom of discussion with the days of Puritan rule; yet it must be admitted that something like geniality and openness characterized what Pepys calls the Coffee Club of the Rota. This "free and open Society of ingenious gentlemen" was founded in the year 1659 by certain members of the Republican party, whose peculiar opinions had been timidly expressed and not very cordially tolerated under the Great Oliver. By the weak Government that followed, these views were regarded with extreme dislike and with some amount of terror.

"They met", says Aubrey, who was himself of their number, "at the Turk's Head [Miles's coffee house] in New Palace Yard, Westminster, where they take water, at one Miles's, the next house to the staires, where was made purposely a large ovall table, with a passage in the middle for Miles to deliver his coffee."

Robinson continues:

This curious refreshment bar and the interest with which the beverage itself was regarded, were quite secondary to the excitement caused[Pg 60] by another novelty. When, after heated disputation, a member desired to test the opinion of the meeting, any particular point might, by agreement, be put to the vote and then everything depended upon "our wooden oracle," the first balloting-box ever seen in England. Formal methods of procedure and the intensely practical nature of the subjects discussed, combined to give a real importance to this Amateur Parliament.

A Coffee House in the Time of Charles II A Coffee House in the Time of Charles II

From a wood cut of 1674

The Rota, or Coffee Club, as Pepys called it, was essentially a debating society for the dissemination of republican opinions. It was preceded only, in the reign of Henry IV, by the club called La Court de Bone Compagnie; by Sir Walter Raleigh's Friday Street, or Bread Street, club; the club at the Mermaid tavern in Bread Street, of which Shakespeare, Beaumont, Fletcher, Raleigh, Selden, Donne, et al., were members; and "rare" Ben Jonson's Devil tavern club, between Middle Temple Gate and Temple Bar.

The Rota derived its name from a plan, which it was designed to promote, for changing a certain number of members of parliament annually by rotation. It was founded by James Harrington, who had painted it in fairest colors in his Oceana, that ideal commonwealth.

Sir William Petty was one of its members. Around the table, "in a room every evening as full as it could be crammed," says Aubrey, sat Milton (?) and Marvell, Cyriac Skinner, Harrington, Nevill, and their friends, discussing abstract political questions.

The Rota became famous for its literary strictures. Among these was "The censure of the Rota upon Mr. Milton's book entitled The ready and easie way to establish a free commonwealth" (1660), although it is doubtful if Milton was ever a visitor to this "bustling coffee club." The Rota also censured "Mr. Driden's Conquest of Granada" (1673).

Early Coffee-House Manners and Customs

Among many of the early coffee-house keepers there was great anxiety that the coffee house, open to high and low, should be conducted under such restraints as might secure the better class of customers from annoyance. The following set of regulations in somewhat halting rhyme was displayed on the walls of several of the coffee houses in the seventeenth century:

The Rules and Orders of the Coffee House.

Enter, Sirs, freely, but first, if you please,
Peruse our civil orders, which are these.

First, gentry, tradesmen, all are welcome hither,
And may without affront sit down together:
Pre-eminence of place none here should mind,
But take the next fit seat that he can find:
Nor need any, if finer persons come,
Rise up to assigne to them his room;
To limit men's expence, we think not fair,
But let him forfeit twelve-pence that shall swear;
He that shall any quarrel here begin,
[Pg 61]Shall give each man a dish t' atone the sin;
And so shall he, whose compliments extend
So far to drink in coffee to his friend;
Let noise of loud disputes be quite forborne,
No maudlin lovers here in corners mourn,
But all be brisk and talk, but not too much,
On sacred things, let none presume to touch.
Nor profane Scripture, nor sawcily wrong
Affairs of state with an irreverent tongue:
Let mirth be innocent, and each man see
That all his jests without reflection be;
To keep the house more quiet and from blame,
We banish hence cards, dice, and every game;
Nor can allow of wagers, that exceed
Five shillings, which ofttimes much trouble breed;
Let all that's lost or forfeited be spent
In such good liquor as the house doth vent.
And customers endeavour, to their powers,
For to observe still, seasonable hours.
Lastly, let each man what he calls for pay,
And so you're welcome to come every day.

The early coffee houses were often up a flight of stairs, and consisted of a single large room with "tables set apart for divers topics." There is a reference to this in the prologue to a comedy of 1681 (quoted by Malone):

In a coffee house just now among the rabble
I bluntly asked, which is the treason table?

This was the arrangement at Man's and others favored by the wits, the literati, and "men of fashionable instincts." In the distinctly business coffee houses separate rooms were provided at a later time for mercantile transactions. The introduction of wooden partitions—wooden boxes, as at a tavern—was also of somewhat later date.

A print of 1674 shows five persons of different ranks in life, one of them smoking, sitting on chairs around a coffee-house table, on which are small basins, or dishes, without saucers, and tobacco pipes, while a coffee boy is serving coffee.

In the beginning, only coffee was dispensed in the English coffee houses. Soon chocolate, sherbert, and tea were added; but the places still maintained their status as social and temperance factors. Constantine Jennings (or George Constantine) of the Grecian advertised chocolate, sherbert and tea at retail in 1664–65; also free instruction in the part of preparing these liquors. "Drams and cordial waters were to be had only at coffee houses newly set up," says Elford the younger, writing about 1689. "While some few places added ale and beer as early as 1669, intoxicating liquors were not items of importance for many years."

A London Coffee House of the Seventeenth Century A London Coffee House of the Seventeenth Century

From a wood cut of the period

After the fire of 1666, many new coffee houses were opened that were not limited to a single room up a flight of stairs. Because the coffee-house keepers over-emphasized the sobering qualities of the coffee drink, they drew many undesirable characters from the taverns and ale houses after the nine o'clock closing hour. These were hardly calculated to improve the reputation of the coffee houses; and, indeed, the decline of the coffee houses as a temperance institution would seem to trace back to this attitude of false pity for the victims of tavern vices, evils that many of the coffee houses later on embraced to their own undoing. The early institution was unique, its distinctive features being unlike those of any public house in England or on the Continent. Later on, in the eighteenth century, when these distinctive features[Pg 62] became obscured, the name coffee house became a misnomer.

Coffee House, Queen Anne's Time—1702–14 Coffee House, Queen Anne's Time—1702–14

Showing coffee pots, coffee dishes, and coffee boy

However, Robinson says, "the close intercourse between the habitués of the coffee house, before it lost anything of its generous social traditions and whilst the issue of the struggle for political liberty was as yet uncertain, was to lead to something more than a mere jumbling or huddling together of opposites. The diverse elements gradually united in the bonds of common sympathy, or were forcibly combined by persecution from without until there resulted a social, political and moral force of almost irresistible strength."

Coffee-House Keepers' Tokens

The great London fire of 1666 destroyed some of the coffee houses; but prominent among those that survived was the Rainbow, whose proprietor, James Farr, issued one of the earliest coffee-house tokens, doubtless in grateful memory of his escape. Farr's token shows an arched rainbow emerging from the clouds of the "great fire," indicating that all was well with him, and the Rainbow still radiant. On the reverse the medal was inscribed, "In Fleet Street—His Half Penny."

A large number of these trade coins were put out by coffee-house keepers and other tradesmen in the seventeenth century as evidence of an amount due, as stated thereon, by the issuer to the holder. Tokens originated because of the scarcity of small change. They were of brass, copper, pewter, and even leather, gilded. They bore the name, address, and calling of the issuer, the nominal value of the piece, and some reference to his trade. They were readily redeemed, on presentation, at their face value. They were passable in the immediate neighborhood, seldom reaching farther than the next street. C.G. Williamson writes:

Tokens are essentially democratic; they would never have been issued but for the indifference of the Government to a public need; and in them we have a remarkable instance of a people forcing a legislature to comply with demands at once reasonable and imperative. Taken as a whole series, they are homely and quaint, wanting in beauty, but not without a curious domestic art of their own.

Robinson finds an exception to the general simplicity in the tokens issued by one of the Exchange Alley houses. The dies of these tokens are such as to have suggested the skilled workmanship of John Roettier. The most ornate has the head of a Turkish sultan at that time famed for his horrible deeds, ending in suicide; its inscription runs:

Morat ye Great Men did mee call;
Where Eare I came I conquer'd all.

A number of the most interesting coffee-house keepers' tokens in the Beaufoy collection in the Guildhall Museum were photographed for this work, and are shown herewith. It will be observed that many of the traders of 1660–75 adopted as their trade sign a hand pouring coffee from a pot, invariably of the Turkish-ewer pattern. Morat (Amurath) and Soliman were frequent coffee-house signs in the seventeenth century.

J.H. Burn, in his Catalogue of Traders' Tokens, recites that in 1672 "divers persons who presumed ... to stamp, coin, exchange and distribute farthings, halfpence and pence of brass and copper" were "taken into custody, in order to a severe prosecution"; but upon submission, their offenses were forgiven, and it was not until the year 1675 that the private token ceased to pass current.

[Pg 63]


Drawn for this work from the originals in the British Museum, and in the Beaufoy collection at the Guildhall Museum

[Pg 64]

A royal proclamation at the close of 1674 enjoined the prosecution of any who should "utter base metals with private stamps," or "hinder the vending of those half pence and farthings which are provided for necessary exchange." After this, tokens were issued stamped "necessary change."

A Broad-side of 1663 A Broad-side of 1663

Opposition to the Coffee House

It is easy to see why the coffee houses at once found favor among men of intelligence in all classes. Until they came, the average Englishman had only the tavern as a place of common resort. But here was a public house offering a non-intoxicating beverage, and its appeal was instant and universal. As a meeting place for the exchange of ideas it soon attained wide popularity. But not without opposition. The publicans and ale-house keepers, seeing business slipping away from them, made strenuous propaganda against this new social center; and not a few attacks were launched against the coffee drink. Between the Restoration and the year 1675, of eight tracts written upon the subject of the London coffee houses, four have the words "character of a coffee house" as part of their titles. The authors appear eager to impart a knowledge of the town's latest novelty, with which many readers were unacquainted.

One of these early pamphlets (1662) was entitled The Coffee Scuffle, and professed to give a dialogue between "a learned knight and a pitifull pedagogue," and contained an amusing account of a house where the Puritan element was still in the ascendant. A numerous company is present, and each little group being occupied with its own subject, the general effect is that of another Babel. While one is engaged in quoting the classics, another confides to his neighbors how much he admires Euclid;

A third's for a lecture, a fourth a conjecture,
A fifth for a penny in the pound.

Theology is introduced. Mask balls and plays are condemned. Others again discuss the news, and are deep in the store of "mercuries" here to be found. One cries up philosophy. Pedantry is rife, and for the most part unchecked, when each 'prentice-boy "doth call for his coffee in Latin" and all are so prompt with their learned quotations that "'t would make a poor Vicar to tremble."

The first noteworthy effort attacking the coffee drink was a satirical broadside that appeared in 1663. It was entitled A Cup of Coffee: or, Coffee in its Colours. It said:

For men and Christians to turn Turks, and think
T'excuse the Crime because 'tis in their drink,
Is more than Magick....
Pure English Apes! Ye may, for ought I know,
Would it but mode, learn to eat Spiders too.

The writer wonders that any man should prefer coffee to canary, and refers to the days of Beaumont, Fletcher, and Ben Jonson. He says:

They drank pure nectar as the gods drink too,
Sublim'd with rich Canary....
shall then
These less than coffee's self, these coffee-men,
These sons of nothing, that can hardly make
Their Broth, for laughing how the jest doth take;
Yet grin, and give ye for the Vine's pure Blood
A loathsome potion, not yet understood,
Syrrop of soot, or Essence of old Shooes,
Dasht with Diurnals and the Books of news?

The author of A Cup of Coffee, it will be seen, does not shrink from using epithets.

[Pg 65]


Drawn for this work from the originals in the British Museum, and in the Beaufoy collection at the Guildhall Museum]

[Pg 66]

The Coffee Man's Granado Discharged upon the Maiden's Complaint Against Coffee, a dialogue in verse, also appeared in 1663.

The Character of a Coffee House, by an Eye and Ear Witness appeared in 1665. It was a ten-page pamphlet, and proved to be excellent propaganda for coffee. It is so well done, and contains so much local color, that it is reproduced here, the text Museum. The title page reads:

of a
Is contained a Description of the Persons
usually frequenting it, with their Discourse
and Humors,
As Also
The Admirable Vertues of
By an Eye and Ear Witness
When Coffee once was vended here,
The Alc'ron shortly did appear,
For our Reformers were such Widgeons.
New Liquors brought in new Religions.
Printed in the Year, 1665.

The text and the arrangement of the body of the pamphlet are as follows:

of a


A Coffee-house, the learned hold
It is a place where Coffee's sold;
This derivation cannot fail us,
For where Ale's vended, that's an Ale-house.

This being granted to be true,
'Tis meet that next the Signs we shew
Both where and how to find this house
Where men such cordial broth carowse.
And if Culpepper woon some glory
In turning the Dispensatory
From Latin into English; then
Why should not all good English men
Give him much thanks who shews a cure
For all diseases men endure?


As you along the streets do trudge,
To take the pains you must not grudge,
To view the Posts or Broomsticks where
The Signs of Liquors hanged are.
And if you see the great Morat
With Shash on's head instead of hat,
Or any Sultan in his dress,
Or picture of a Sultaness,
Or John's admir'd curled pate,
Or th' great Mogul in's Chair of State,
Or Constantine the Grecian,
Who fourteen years was th' onely man
That made Coffee for th' great Bashaw,
Although the man he never saw;
Or if you see a Coffee-cup
Fil'd from a Turkish pot, hung up
Within the clouds, and round it Pipes,
Wax Candles, Stoppers, these are types
And certain signs (with many more
Would be too long to write them 'ore,)
Which plainly do Spectators tell
That in that house they Coffee sell.
Some wiser than the rest (no doubt,)
Say they can by the smell find't out;
In at a door (say they,) but thrust
Your Nose, and if you scent burnt Crust,
Be sure there's Coffee sold that's good,
For so by most 'tis understood.

Now being enter'd, there's no needing
Of complements or gentile breeding,
For you may seat you any where,
There's no respect of persons there;
Then comes the Coffee-man to greet you,
With welcome Sir, let me entreat you,
To tell me what you'l please to have,
For I'm your humble, humble slave;
But if you ask, what good does Coffee?
He'l answer, Sir, don't think I scoff yee,
If I affirm there's no disease
Men have that drink it but find ease.


Look, there's a man who takes the steem
In at his Nose, has an extreme
Worm in his pate, and giddiness,
Ask him and he will say no less.
There sitteth one whose Droptick belly
Was hard as flint, now's soft as jelly.
There stands another holds his head
'Ore th' Coffee-pot, was almost dead
Even now with Rhume; ask him hee'l say
That all his Rhum's now past away.
See, there's a man sits now demure
And sober, was within this hour
Quite drunk, and comes here frequently,
For 'tis his daily Malady,
More, it has such reviving power
'Twill keep a man awake an houre,
Nay, make his eyes wide open stare
Both Sermon time and all the prayer.
Sir, should I tell you all the rest
O' th' cures 't has done, two hours at least
In numb'ring them I needs must spend,
Scarce able then to make an end.
Besides these vertues that's therein.
For any kind of Medicine,
The Commonwealth-Kingdom I'd say,
Has mighty reason for to pray
That still Arabia may produce
Enough of Berry for it's use:
For't has such strange magnetick force,
That it draws after't great concourse
Of all degrees of persons, even
From high to low, from morn till even;
Especially the sober Party,
And News-mongers do drink't most hearty
Here you'r not thrust into a Box
As Taverns do to catch the Fox,
But as from th' top of Pauls high steeple,
Th' whole City's view'd, even so all people
May here be seen; no secrets are
At th' Court for Peace, or th' Camp for War,
But straight they'r here disclos'd and known;
Men in this Age so wise are grown.
[Pg 67]Now (Sir) what profit may accrew
By this, to all good men, judge you.
With that he's loudly call'd upon
For Coffee, and then whip he's gone.


Here at a Table sits (perplext)
A griping Usurer, and next
To him a gallant Furioso,
Then nigh to him a Virtuoso;
A Player then (full fine) sits down,
And close to him a Country Clown.
O' th' other side sits some Pragmatick,
And next to him some sly Phanatick.


The gallant he for Tea doth call,
The Usurer for nought at all.
The Pragmatick he doth intreat
That they will fill him some Beau-cheat,
The Virtuoso he cries hand me
Some Coffee mixt with Sugar-candy.
Phanaticus (at last) says come,
Bring me some Aromaticum.
The Player bawls for Chocolate,
All which the Bumpkin wond'ring at,
Cries, ho, my Masters, what d' ye speak,
D' ye call for drink in Heathen Greek?
Give me some good old Ale or Beer,
Or else I will not drink, I swear.
Then having charg'd their Pipes around.


They silence break; First the profound
And sage Phanatique, Sirs what news?
Troth says the Us'rer I ne'r use
To tip my tongue with such discourse,
'Twere news to know how to disburse
A summ of mony (makes me sad)
To get ought by't, times are so bad.
The other answers, truly Sir
You speak but truth, for I'le aver
They ne'r were worse; did you not hear
What prodigies did late appear
At Norwich, Ipswich, Grantham, Gotam?
And though prophane ones do not not'em,
Yet we—Here th' Virtuoso stops
The current of his speech, with hopes
Quoth he, you will not tak'd amiss,
I say all's lies that's news like this,
For I have Factors all about
The Realm, so that no Stars peep out
That are unusual, much less these
Strange and unheard-of prodigies
You would relate, but they are tost
To me in letters by first Post.
At which the Furioso swears
Such chat as this offends his ears
It rather doth become this Age
To talk of bloodshed, fury, rage,
And t' drink stout healths in brim-fill'd Nogans.
To th' downfall of the Hogan Mogans.
With that the Player doffs his Bonnet,
And tunes his voice as if a Sonnet
Were to be sung; then gently says,
O what delight there is in Plays!
Sure if we were but all in Peace,
This noise of Wars and News would cease;
All sorts of people then would club
Their pence to see a Play that's good.
You'l wonder all this while (perhaps)
The Curioso holds his chaps.
But he doth in his thoughts devise,
How to the rest he may seem wise;
Yet able longer not to hold,
His tedious tale too must be told,
And thus begins, Sirs unto me
It reason seems that liberty
Of speech and words should be allow'd
Where men of differing judgements croud,
And that's a Coffee-house, for where
Should men discourse so free as there?
Coffee and Commonwealth begin
Both with one letter, both came in
Together for a Reformation,
To make's a free and sober Nation.
But now—With that Phanaticus
Gives him a nod, and speaks him thus,
Hold brother, I know your intent,
That's no dispute convenient
For this same place, truths seldome find
Acceptance here, they'r more confin'd
To Taverns and to Ale-house liquor,
Where men do vent their minds more quicker
If that may for a truth but pass
What's said, In vino veritas.
With that up starts the Country Clown,
And stares about with threatening frown.
As if he would even eat them all up.
Then bids the boy run quick and call up,
A Constable, for he has reason
To fear their Latin may be treason
But straight they all call what's to pay,
Lay't down, and march each several way.


At th' other table sits a Knight,
And here a grave old man ore right
Against his worship, then perhaps
That by and by a Drawer claps
His bum close by them, there down squats
A dealer in old shoes and hats;
And here withouten any panick
Fear, dread or care a bold Mechanick.


The Knight (because he's so) he prates
Of matters far beyond their pates.
The grave old man he makes a bustle,
And his wise sentence in must justle.
Up starts th' Apprentice boy and he
Says boldly so and so't must be.
The dealer in old shoes to utter
His saying too makes no small sputter.
Then comes the pert mechanick blade,
And contradicts what all have said.


There by the fier-side doth sit,
One freezing in an Ague fit.
Another poking in't with th' tongs,
Still ready to cough up his lungs
Here sitteth one that's melancolick,
And there one singing in a frolick.
Each one hath such a prety gesture,
At Smithfield fair would yield a tester.
Boy reach a pipe cries he that shakes,
The songster no Tobacco takes,
Says he who coughs, nor do I smoak,
Then Monsieur Mopus turns his cloak
Off from his face, and with a grave
Majestick beck his pipe doth crave.
They load their guns and fall a smoaking
Whilst he who coughs sits by a choaking,
Till he no longer can abide.
And so removes from th' fier side.
Now all this while none calls to drink,
[Pg 68]Which makes the Coffee boy to think
Much they his pots should so enclose,
He cannot pass but tread on toes.
With that as he the Nectar fills
From pot to pot, some on't he spills
Upon the Songster. Oh cries he.
Pox, what dost do? thou'st burnt my knee;
No says the boy, (to make a bald
And blind excuse.) Sir 'twill not scald.
With that the man lends him a cuff
O' th' ear, and whips away in snuff.
The other two, their pipes being out,
Says Monsieur Mopus I much doubt
My friend I wait for will not come,
But if he do, say I'm gone home.
Then says the Aguish man I must come
According to my wonted custome,
To give ye' a visit, although now
I dare not drink, and so adieu.
The boy replies, O Sir, however
You'r very welcome, we do never
Our Candles, Pipes or Fier grutch
To daily customers and such,
They'r Company (without expence,)
For that's sufficient recompence.
Here at a table all alone,
Sits (studying) a spruce youngster, (one
Who doth conceipt himself fully witty,
And's counted one o' th' wits o' th' City,)
Till by him (with a stately grace,)
A Spanish Don himself doth place.
Then (cap in hand) a brisk Monsieur
He takes his seat, and crowds as near
As possibly that he can come.
Then next a Dutchman takes his room.
The Wits glib tongue begins to chatter,
Though't utters more of noise than matter,
Yet 'cause they seem to mind his words,
His lungs more battle still affords
At last says he to Don, I trow
You understand me? Sennor no
Says th' other. Here the Wit doth pause
A little while, then opes his jaws,
And says to Monsieur, you enjoy
Our tongue I hope? Non par ma foy,
Replies the Frenchman: nor you, Sir?
Says he to th' Dutchman, Neen mynheer,
With that he's gone, and cries, why sho'd
He stay where wit's not understood?
There in a place of his own chusing
(Alone) some lover sits a musing,
With arms across, and's eyes up lift,
As if he were of sence bereft.
Till sometimes to himself he's speaking,
Then sighs as if his heart were breaking.
Here in a corner sits a Phrantick,
And there stands by a frisking Antick,
Of all sorts some and all conditions
Even Vintners, Surgeons and Physicians.
The blind, the deaf, and aged cripple
Do here resort and Coffee tipple.

Now here (perhaps) you may expect
My Muse some trophies should erect
In high flown verse, for to set forth
The noble praises of its worth.

Truth is, old Poets beat their brains
To find out high and lofty strains
To praise the (now too frequent) use
Of the bewitching grapes strong juice,
Some have strain'd hard for to exalt
The liquor of our English Mault
Nay Don has almost crackt his nodle
Enough t'applaud his Caaco Caudle.
The Germans Mum, Teag's Usquebagh,
(Made him so well defend Tredagh,)
Metheglin, which the Brittains tope,
Hot Brandy wine, the Hogans hope.
Stout Meade which makes the Russ to laugh,
Spic'd Punch (in bowls) the Indians quaff.
All these have had their pens to raise
Them Monuments of lasting praise,
Onely poor Coffee seems to me
No subject fit for Poetry
At least 'tis one that none of mine is,
So I do wave 't, and here write—


A Broad-side of 1667 A Broad-side of 1667

News from the Coffe House; in which is shewn their several sorts of Passions appeared in 1667. It was reprinted in 1672 as The Coffee House or News-mongers' Hall.

Several stanzas from these broadsides have been much quoted. They serve to throw additional light upon the manners of the time, and upon the kind of conversation met with in any well frequented coffee house of the seventeenth century, particularly under the Stuarts. They are finely descriptive of the company characteristics[Pg 69] of the early coffee houses. The fifth stanza of the edition of 1667, inimical to the French, was omitted when the broadside was amended and reprinted in 1672, the year that England joined with France and again declared war on the Dutch. The following verses with explanatory notes are from Timbs:

News from the Coffe House

You that delight in Wit and Mirth,
And long to hear such News,
As comes from all Parts of the Earth,
Dutch, Danes, and Turks, and Jews,
I'le send yee to a Rendezvouz,
Where it is smoaking new;
Go hear it at a Coffe-house,
It cannot but be true.

There Battles and Sea-Fights are Fought,
And bloudy Plots display'd;
They know more Things then ere was thought
Or ever was betray'd:
No Money in the Minting-house
Is halfe so Bright and New;
And comming from a Coffe-house
It cannot but be true.

Before the Navyes fall to Work,
They know who shall be Winner;
They there can tell ye what the Turk
Last Sunday had to Dinner;
Who last did Cut Du Ruitters[75] Corns,
Amongst his jovial Crew;
Or Who first gave the Devil Horns,
Which cannot but be true.

A Fisherman did boldly tell,
And strongly did avouch,
He Caught a Shoal of Mackarel,
That Parley'd all in Dutch,
And cry'd out Yaw, yaw, yaw Myne Here;
But as the Draught they Drew
They Stunck for fear, that Monck[76] was there,
Which cannot but be true.


There's nothing done in all the World,
From Monarch to the Mouse
But every Day or Night 'tis hurld
Into the Coffe-house.
What Lillie[77] or what Booker[78] can
By Art, not bring about,
At Coffe-house you'l find a Man,
Can quickly find it out.

They know who shall in Times to come,
Be either made, or undone,
From great St. Peters street in Rome,
To Turnbull-street[79] in London;


They know all that is Good, or Hurt,
To Dam ye, or to Save ye;
There is the Colledge, and the Court,
The Country, Camp and Navie;
So great a Universitie,
I think there ne're was any;
In which you may a Schoolar be
For spending of a Penny.


Here Men do talk of every Thing,
With large and liberal Lungs,
Like Women at a Gossiping,
With double tyre of Tongues;
They'l give a Broad-side presently,
Soon as you are in view,
With Stories that, you'l wonder at,
Which they will swear are true.

The Drinking there of Chockalat,
Can make a Fool a Sophie:
'Tis thought the Turkish Mahomet
Was first Inspir'd with Coffe,
By which his Powers did Over-flow
The Land of Palestine:
Then let us to, the Coffe-house go,
'Tis Cheaper farr then Wine.

You shall know there, what Fashions are;
How Perrywiggs are Curl'd;
And for a Penny you shall heare,
All Novells in the World.
Both Old and Young, and Great and Small,
And Rich, and Poore, you'l see;
Therefore let's to the Coffe All,
Come All away with Mee.


Robert Morton made a contribution to the controversy in Lines Appended to the Nature, Quality and Most Excellent Vertues of Coffee in 1670.

There was published in 1672 A Broad-side Against Coffee, or the Marriage of the Turk, verses that attained considerable fame because of their picturesque invective. They also stressed the fact that Pasqua Rosées partner was a coachman,[Pg 70] and imitated the broken English of the Ragusan youth:

A Broad-side Against COFFEE;
Or, the
Marriage of the Turk

Coffee, a kind of Turkish Renegade,
Has late a match with Christian water made;
At first between them happen'd a Demur,
Yet joyn'd they were, but not without great stir;


Coffee was cold as Earth, Water as Thames,
And stood in need of recommending Flames;


Coffee so brown as berry does appear,
Too swarthy for a Nymph so fair, so clear:


A Coachman was the first (here) Coffee made,
And ever since the rest drive on the trade;
Me no good Engalash! and sure enough,
He plaid the Quack to salve his Stygian stuff;
Ver boon for de stomach, de Cough, de Ptisick
And I believe him, for it looks like Physick.
Coffee a crust is charkt into a coal,
The smell and taste of the Mock China bowl;
Where huff and puff, they labour out their lungs,
Lest Dives-like they should bewail their tongues.
And yet they tell ye that it will not burn,
Though on the Jury Blisters you return;
Whose furious heat does make the water rise,
And still through the Alembicks of your eyes.
Dread and desire, ye fall to't snap by snap,
As hungry Dogs do scalding porrige lap,
But to cure Drunkards it has got great Fame;
Posset or Porrige, will't not do the same?
Confusion huddles all into one Scene,
Like Noah's Ark, the clean and the unclean.
But now, alas! the Drench has credit got,
And he's no Gentleman that drinks it not;
That such a Dwarf should rise to such a stature!
But Custom is but a remove from Nature.
A little Dish, and a large Coffee-house,
What is it, but a Mountain and a Mouse?


Mens humana novitatis avidissima.

A Broad-side of 1670 A Broad-side of 1670

And so it came to pass that coffee history repeated itself in England. Many good people became convinced that coffee was a dangerous drink. The tirades against the beverage in that far-off time sound not unlike the advertising patter employed by some of our present-day coffee-substitute manufacturers. It was even ridiculed by being referred to as "ninny broth" and "Turkey gruel."

A Broad-side of 1672 A Broad-side of 1672

A brief description of the excellent vertues of that sober and wholesome drink called coffee appeared in 1674 and proved an able and dignified answer to the attacks that had preceded it. That same year, for the first time in history, the sexes divided in a coffee controversy, and there was issued The Women's Petition against Coffee, representing to public consideration the grand inconveniences accruing to their[Pg 71] sex from the excessive use of the drying and enfeebling Liquor, in which the ladies, who had not been accorded the freedom of the coffee houses in England, as was the custom in France, Germany, Italy, and other countries on the Continent, complained that coffee made men as "unfruitful as the deserts where that unhappy berry is said to be bought." Besides the more serious complaint that the whole race was in danger of extinction, it was urged that "on a domestic message a husband would stop by the way to drink a couple of cups of coffee."

This pamphlet is believed to have precipitated the attempt at suppression by the crown the following year, despite the prompt appearing, in 1674, of The Men's Answer to the Women's Petition Against Coffee, vindicating ... their liquor, from the undeserved aspersion lately cast upon them, in their scandalous pamphlet.

The 1674 broadside in defense of coffee was the first to be illustrated; and for all its air of pretentious grandeur and occasional bathos, it was not a bad rhyming advertisement for the persecuted drink. It was printed for Paul Greenwood and sold "at the sign of the coffee mill and tobacco-roll in Cloath-fair near West-Smithfield, who selleth the best Arabian coffee powder and chocolate in cake or roll, after the Spanish fashion, etc." The following extracts will serve to illustrate its epic character:

When the sweet Poison of the Treacherous Grape,
Had Acted on the world a General Rape;
Drowning our very Reason and our Souls
In such deep Seas of large o'reflowing Bowls.


When Foggy Ale, leavying up mighty Trains
Of muddy Vapours, had besieg'd our Brains;


Then Heaven in Pity, to Effect our Cure.


First sent amongst us this All-healing-Berry,
At once to make us both Sober and Merry.

Arabian Coffee, a Rich Cordial
To Purse and Person Beneficial,
Which of so many Vertues doth partake,
Its Country's called Felix for its sake.
From the Rich Chambers of the Rising Sun,
Where Arts, and all good Fashions first begun,
Where Earth with choicest Rarities is blest,
And dying Phoenix builds Her wondrous Nest:
COFFEE arrives, that Grave and wholesome Liquor,
That heals the Stomack, makes the Genius quicker,
Relieves the Memory, Revives the Sad.


Do but this Rare ARABIAN Cordial Use,
And thou may'st all the Doctors Slops Refuse.
Hush then, dull QUACKS, your Mountebanking cease,
COFFEE'S a speedier Cure for each Disease;
How great its Vertues are, we hence may think,
The Worlds third Part makes it their common Drink:
In Breif, all you who Healths Rich Treasures Prize,
And Court not Ruby Noses, or blear'd Eyes,
But own Sobriety to be your Drift.
And Love at once good Company and Thrift;
To Wine no more make Wit and Coyn a Trophy,
But come each Night and Frollique here in Coffee.

A Broad-side of 1674 A Broad-side of 1674

The first one to be illustrated

An eight-page folio, the last argument to be issued in defense of coffee before Charles II sought to follow in the footsteps of Kair Bey and Kuprili, was issued in the early part of 1675. It was entitled Coffee Houses Vindicated. In answer to the late published Character of a Coffee House. Asserting from Reason, Experience and good Authors the Excellent Use and physical Virtues of that Liquor ... With the Grand Convenience of such civil Places of Resort and ingenious Conversation.

[Pg 72]

The advantage of a coffee house compared with a "publick-house" is thus set forth:

First, In regard of easy expense. Being to wait for or meet a friend, a tavern-reckoning soon breeds a purse-consumption: in an ale house, you must gorge yourself with pot after pot.... But here, for a penny or two, you may spend two or three hours, have the shelter of a house, the warmth of a fire, the diversion of company; and conveniency, if you please, of taking a pipe of tobacco; and all this without any grumbling or repining. Secondly. For sobriety. It is grown, by the ill influences of I know not what hydropick stars, almost a general custom amongst us, that no bargain can be drove, or business concluded between man and man, but it must be transacted at some publick-house ... where continual sippings ... would be apt to fly up into their brains, and render them drowsy and indisposed ... whereas, having now the opportunity of a coffee-house, they repair thither, take each man a dish or two (so far from causing, that it cures any dizziness, or disturbant fumes): and so, dispatching their business, go out more sprightly about their affairs, than before.... Lastly, For diversion ... where can young gentlemen, or shop-keepers, more innocently and advantageously spend an hour or two in the evening than at a coffee-house? Where they shall be sure to meet company, and, by the custom of the house, not such as at other places stingy and reserved to themselves, but free and communicative, where every man may modestly begin his story, and propose to, or answer another, as he thinks fit.... So that, upon the whole matter, spight of the idle sarcasms and paltry reproaches thrown upon it, we may, with no less truth than plainness, give this brief character of a well-regulated coffee-house, (for our pen disdains to be an advocate for any sordid holes, that assume that name to cloke the practice of debauchery,) that it is the sanctuary of health, the nursery of temperance, the delight of frugality, and academy of civility, and free-school of ingenuity.

The Ale Wives' Complaint Against the Coffee-houses, a dialogue between a victualer's wife and a coffee man, at difference about spiriting away each other's trade, also was issued in 1675.

As early as 1666, and again in 1672, we find the government planning to strike a blow at the coffee houses. By the year 1675, these "seminaries of sedition" were much frequented by persons of rank and substance, who, "suitable to our native genius," says Anderson,[80] "used great freedom therein with respect to the courts' proceedings in these and like points, so contrary to the voice of the people."

In 1672, Charles II, seemingly eager to emulate the Oriental intolerants that preceded him, determined to try his hand at suppression. "Having been informed of the great inconveniences arising from the great number of persons that resort to coffee-houses," the king "desired the Lord Keeper and the Judges to give their opinion in writing as to how far he might lawfully proceed against them."

Roger North in his Examen gives the full story; and D'Israeli, commenting on it, says, "it was not done without some apparent respect for the British constitution." The courts affected not to act against the law, and the judges were summoned to a consultation; but the five who met could not agree in opinion.

Sir William Coventry spoke against the proposed measure. He pointed out that the government obtained considerable revenue from coffee, that the king himself owed to these seemingly obnoxious places no small debt of gratitude in the matter of his own restoration; for they had been permitted in Cromwell's time, when the king's friends had used more liberty of speech than "they dared to do in any other." He urged, also, that it might be rash to issue a command so likely to be disobeyed.

At last, being hard pressed for a reply, the judges gave such a halting opinion in favor of the king's policy as to remind us of the reluctant verdict wrung from the physicians and lawyers of Mecca on the occasion of coffee's first persecution.[81] "The English lawyers, in language which, for its civility and indefiniteness," says Robinson, "would have been the envy of their Eastern brethren," declared that:

Retailing coffee might be an innocent trade, as it might be exercised; but as it is used at present, in the nature of a common assembly, to discourse of matters of State, news and great Persons, as they are Nurseries of Idleness and Pragmaticalness, and hinder the expence of our native Provisions, they might be thought common nuisances.

An attempt was made to mold public opinion to a favorable consideration of the attempt at suppression in The Grand Concern of England explained, which was good propaganda for his majesty's enterprise, but utterly failed to carry conviction to the lovers of liberty.

After much backing and filling, the king, on December 23, 1675, issued a proclamation which in its title frankly stated its[Pg 73] object—"for the suppression of coffee houses." It is here given in a somewhat condensed form:


Charles R.

Whereas it is most apparent that the multitude of Coffee Houses of late years set up and kept within this kingdom, the dominion of Wales, and town of Berwick-upon-Tweed, and the great resort of Idle and disaffected persons to them, have produced very evil and dangerous effects; as well for that many tradesmen and others, do herein mispend much of their time, which might and probably would be employed in and about their Lawful Calling and Affairs; but also, for that in such houses ... divers false, malitious and scandalous reports are devised and spread abroad to the Defamation of his Majestie's Government, and to the Disturbance of the Peace and Quiet of the Realm; his Majesty hath thought fit and necessary, that the said Coffee Houses be (for the future) Put down, and suppressed, and doth ... strictly charge and command all manner of persons, That they or any of them do not presume from and after the Tenth Day of January next ensuing, to keep any Public Coffee House, or to utter or sell by retail, in his, her or their house or houses (to be spent or consumed within the same) any Coffee, Chocolet, Sherbett or Tea, as they will answer the contrary at their utmost perils ... (all licenses to be revoked).

Given at our Court at Whitehall, this third-and-twentieth day of Dec., 1675, in the seven-and-twentieth year of our Reign.


And then a remarkable thing happened. It is not usual for a royal proclamation issued on the 29th of one month to be recalled on the 8th day of the next; but this is the record established by Charles II. The proclamation was made on December 23, 1675, and issued December 29, 1675. It forbade the coffee houses to operate after January 10, 1676. But so intense was the feeling aroused, that eleven days was sufficient time to convince the king that a blunder had been made. Men of all parties cried out against being deprived of their accustomed haunts. The dealers in coffee, tea, and chocolate demonstrated that the proclamation would greatly lessen his majesty's revenues. Convulsion and discontent loomed large. The king heeded the warning, and on January 8, 1676, another proclamation was issued by which the first proclamation was recalled.

In order to save the king's face, it was solemnly recited that "His Gracious Majesty," out of his "princely consideration and royal compassion" would allow the retailers of coffee liquor to keep open until the 24th of the following June. But this was clearly only a royal subterfuge, as there was no further attempt at molestation, and it is extremely doubtful if any was contemplated at the time the second proclamation was promulgated.

"Than both which proclamations nothing could argue greater guilt nor greater weakness," says Anderson. Robinson remarks, "A battle for freedom of speech was fought and won over this question at a time when Parliaments were infrequent and when the liberty of the press did not exist."

"Penny Universities"

We read in 1677 that "none dare venture into the coffee houses unless he be able to argue the question whether Parliament were dissolved or not."

All through the years remaining in the seventeenth century, and through most of the eighteenth century, the London coffee houses grew and prospered. As before stated, they were originally temperance institutions, very different from the taverns and ale houses. "Within the walls of the coffee house there was always much noise, much clatter, much bustle, but decency was never outraged."

At prices ranging from one to two pence per dish, the demand grew so great that coffee-house keepers were obliged to make the drink in pots holding eight or ten gallons.

The seventeenth-century coffee houses were sometimes referred to as the "penny universities"; because they were great schools of conversation, and the entrance fee was only a penny. Two pence was the usual price of a dish of coffee or tea, this charge also covering newspapers and lights. It was the custom for the frequenter to lay his penny on the bar, on entering or leaving. Admission to the exchange of sparkling wit and brilliant conversation was within the reach of all.

So great a Universitie
I think there ne're was any;
In which you may a Schoolar be
For spending of a Penny.

"Regular customers," we are told, "had particular seats and special attention from the fair lady at the bar, and the tea and coffee boys."

[Pg 74]

It is believed that the modern custom of tipping, and the word "tip," originated in the coffee houses, where frequently hung brass-bound boxes into which customers were expected to drop coins for the servants. The boxes were inscribed "To Insure Promptness" and from the initial letters of these words came "tip."

The National Review says, "before 1715 the number of coffee houses in London was reckoned at 2000." Dufour, who wrote in 1683, declares, upon information received from several persons who had staid in London, that there were 3000 of these places. However, 2000 is probably nearer the fact.

In that critical time in English history, when the people, tired of the misgovernment of the later Stuarts, were most in need of a forum where questions of great moment could be discussed, the coffee house became a sanctuary. Here matters of supreme political import were threshed out and decided for the good of Englishmen for all time. And because many of these questions were so well thought out then, there was no need to fight them out later. England's great struggle for political liberty was really fought and won in the coffee house.

To the end of the reign of Charles II, coffee was looked upon by the government rather as a new check upon license than an added luxury. After the revolution, the London coffee merchants were obliged to petition the House of Lords against new import duties, and it was not until the year 1692 that the government, "for the greater encouragement and advancement of trade and the greater importation of the said respective goods or merchandises," discharged one half of the obnoxious tariff.

Weird Coffee Substitutes

Shortly after the "great fire," coffee substitutes began to appear. First came a liquor made with betony, "for the sake of those who could not accustom themselves to the bitter taste of coffee." Betony is a herb belonging to the mint family, and its root was formerly employed in medicine as an emetic or purgative. In 1719, when coffee was 7s. a pound, came bocket, later known as saloop, a decoction of sassafras and sugar, that became such a favorite among those who could not afford tea or coffee, that there were many saloop stalls in the streets of London. It was also sold at Read's coffee house in Fleet Street.

The Coffee Men Overreach Themselves

The coffee-house keepers had become so powerful a force in the community in 1729 that they lost all sense of proportion; and we find them seriously proposing to usurp the functions of the newspapers. The vainglorious coffee men requested the government to hand over to them a journalistic monopoly; the argument being that the newspapers of the day were choked with advertisements, filled with foolish stories gathered by all-too enterprising newswriters, and that the only way for the government to escape "further excesses occasioned by the freedom of the press" and to rid itself of "those pests of society, the unlicensed newsvendors," was for it to intrust the coffee men, as "the chief supporters of liberty" with the publication of a Coffee House Gazette. Information for the journal was to be supplied by the habitués of the houses themselves, written down on brass slates or ivory tablets, and called for twice daily by the Gazette's representatives. All the profits were to go to the coffee men—including the expected increase of custom.

Needless to say, this amazing proposal of the coffee-house masters to have the public write its own newspapers met with the scorn and the derision it invited, and nothing ever came of it.

The increasing demand for coffee caused the government tardily to seek to stimulate interest in the cultivation of the plant in British colonial possessions. It was tried out in Jamaica in 1730. By 1732 the experiment gave such promise that Parliament, "for encouraging the growth of coffee in His Majesty's plantations in America," reduced the inland duty on coffee coming from there, "but of none other," from two shillings to one shilling six pence per pound. "It seems that the French at Martinico, Hispaniola, and at the Isle de Bourbon, near Madagascar, had somewhat the start of the English in the new product as had also the Dutch at Surinam, yet none had hitherto been found to equal coffee from Arabia, whence all the rest of the world had theirs." Thus writes Adam Anderson in 1787, somewhat ungraciously seeking to damn England's business rivals with faint praise. Java coffee was even then in the lead, and the seeds of Bourbon-Santos[Pg 75] were multiplying rapidly in Brazilian soil.

The British East India Company, however, was much more interested in tea than in coffee. Having lost out to the French and Dutch on the "little brown berry of Arabia," the company engaged in so lively a propaganda for "the cup that cheers" that, whereas the annual tea imports from 1700 to 1710 averaged 800,000 pounds, in 1721 more than 1,000,000 pounds of tea were brought in. In 1757, some 4,000,000 pounds were imported. And when the coffee house finally succumbed, tea, and not coffee, was firmly intrenched as the national drink of the English people.

A movement in 1873 to revive the coffee house in the form of a coffee "palace," designed to replace the public house as a place of resort for working men, caused the Edinburgh Castle to be opened in London. The movement attained considerable success throughout the British Isles, and even spread to the United States.

Evolution of the Club

Every profession, trade, class, and party had its favorite coffee house. "The bitter black drink called coffee," as Mr. Pepys described the beverage, brought together all sorts and conditions of men; and out of their mixed association there developed groups of patrons favoring particular houses and giving them character. It is easy to trace the transition of the group into a clique that later became a club, continuing for a time to meet at the coffee house or the chocolate house, but eventually demanding a house of its own.

Decline and Fall of the Coffee House

Starting as a forum for the commoner, "the coffee house soon became the plaything of the leisure class; and when the club was evolved, the coffee house began to retrograde to the level of the tavern. And so the eighteenth century, which saw the coffee house at the height of its power and popularity, witnessed also its decline and fall. It is said there were as many clubs at the end of the century as there were coffee houses at the beginning."

For a time, when the habit of reading newspapers descended the social ladder, the coffee house acquired a new lease of life. Sir Walter Besant observes:

They were then frequented by men who came, not to talk, but to read; the smaller tradesmen and the better class of mechanic now came to the coffee-house, called for a cup of coffee, and with it the daily paper, which they could not afford to take in. Every coffee-house took three or four papers; there seems to have been in this latter phase of the once social institution no general conversation. The coffee-house as a place of resort and conversation gradually declined; one can hardly say why, except that all human institutions do decay. Perhaps manners declined; the leaders in literature ceased to be seen there; the city clerk began to crowd in; the tavern and the club drew men from the coffee-house.

A few houses survived until the early years of the nineteenth century, but the social side had disappeared. As tea and coffee entered the homes, and the exclusive club house succeeded the democratic coffee forum, the coffee houses became taverns or chop houses, or, convinced that they had outlived their usefulness, just ceased to be.

Pen Pictures of Coffee-House Life

From the writings of Addison in the Spectator, Steele in the Tatler, Mackay in his Journey Through England, Macaulay in his history, and others, it is possible to draw a fairly accurate pen-picture of life in the old London coffee house.

In the seventeenth century the coffee room usually opened off the street. At first only tables and chairs were spread about on a sanded floor. Later, this arrangement was succeeded by the boxes, or booths, such as appear in the Rowlandson caricatures, the picture of the interior of Lloyds, etc.

The walls were decorated with handbills and posters advertising the quack medicines, pills, tinctures, salves, and electuaries of the period, all of which might be purchased at the bar near the entrance, presided over by a prototype of the modern English barmaid. There were also bills of the play, auction notices, etc., depending upon the character of the place.

Then, as now, the barmaids were made much of by patrons. Tom Brown refers to them as charming "Phillises who invite you by their amorous glances into their smoaky territories."

Messages were left and letters received at the bar for regular customers. Stella was instructed to address her letters to Swift, "under cover to Addison at the St. James's coffee house." Says Macaulay:

Foreigners remarked that it was the coffee house which specially distinguished London from all other cities; that the coffee house was the Londoner's home, and that those who wished to find a gentleman commonly asked, not whether he lived in Fleet Street or Chancery Lane, but whether he frequented the Grecian or the Rainbow.

[Pg 76]


[Pg 77]

So every man of the upper or middle classes went daily to his coffee house to learn the news and to discuss it. The better class houses were the meeting places of the most substantial men in the community. Every coffee house had its orator, who became to his admirers a kind of "fourth estate of the realm."

Macaulay gives us the following picture of the coffee house of 1685:

Nobody was excluded from these places who laid down his penny at the bar. Yet every rank and profession, and every shade of religious and political opinion had its own headquarters.

There were houses near St. James' Park, where fops congregated, their heads and shoulders covered with black or flaxen wigs, not less ample than those which are now worn by the Chancellor and by the Speaker of the House of Commons. The atmosphere was like that of a perfumer's shop. Tobacco in any form than that of richly scented snuff was held in abomination. If any clown, ignorant of the usages of the house, called for a pipe, the sneers of the whole assembly and the short answers of the waiters soon convinced him that he had better go somewhere else.

Nor, indeed, would he have far to go. For, in general, the coffee-houses reeked with tobacco like a guard room. Nowhere was the smoking more constant than at Will's. That celebrated house, situated between Covent Garden and Bow street, was sacred to polite letters. There the talk was about poetical justice and the unities of place and time. Under no roof was a greater variety of figures to be seen. There were earls in stars and garters, clergymen in cassocks and bands, pert Templars, sheepish lads from universities, translators and index makers in ragged coats of frieze. The great press was to get near the chair where John Dryden sate. In winter that chair was always in the warmest nook by the fire; in summer it stood in the balcony. To bow to the Laureate, and to hear his opinion of Racine's last tragedy, or of Bossu's treatise on epic poetry, was thought a privilege. A pinch from his snuff-box was an honour sufficient to turn the head of a young enthusiast.

There were coffee-houses where the first medical men might be consulted. Dr. John Radcliffe, who, in the year 1685, rose to the largest practice in London, came daily, at the hour when the Exchange was full, from his house in Bow street, then a fashionable part of the capital, to Garraway's, and was to be found, surrounded by surgeons and apothecaries, at a particular table.

There were Puritan coffee-houses where no oath was heard, and where lank-haired men discussed election and reprobation through their noses; Jew coffee-houses, where dark-eyed money changers from Venice and Amsterdam greeted each other; and Popish coffee-houses, where, as good Protestants believed, Jesuits planned over their cups another great fire, and cast silver bullets to shoot the King.

Ned Ward gives us this picture of the coffee house of the seventeenth century. He is describing Old Man's, Scotland Yard:

We now ascended a pair of stairs, which brought us into an old-fashioned room, where a gaudy crowd of odoriferous Tom-Essences were walking backwards and forwards, with their hats in their hands, not daring to convert them to their intended use lest it should put the foretops of their wigs into some disorder. We squeezed through till we got to the end of the room, where, at a small table, we sat down, and observed that it was as great a rarity to hear anybody call for a dish of politicians porridge, or any other liquor, as it is to hear a beau call for a pipe of tobacco; their whole exercise being to charge and discharge their nostrils and keep the curls of their periwigs in their proper order. The clashing of their snush-box lids, in opening and shutting, made more noise than their tongues. Bows and cringes of the newest mode were here exchanged 'twixt friend and friend with wonderful exactness. They made a humming like so many hornets in a country chimney, not with their talking, but with their whispering over their new Minuets and Bories, with the hands in their pockets, if only freed from their snush-box. We now began to be thoughtful of a pipe of tobacco, whereupon we ventured to call for some instruments of evaporation, which were accordingly brought us, but with such a kind of unwillingness, as if they would much rather been rid of our company; for their tables were so very neat, and shined with rubbing like the upper-leathers of an alderman's shoes, and as brown as the top of a country housewife's cupboard. The floor was as clean swept as a Sir Courtly's dining room, which made us look round to see if there were no orders hung up to impose the forfeiture of so much mop-money upon any person that should spit out of the chimney-corner. Notwithstanding we wanted an example to encourage us in our porterly rudeness, we ordered them to light the wax candle, by which we ignified our pipes and blew about our whiffs; at which several Sir Foplins drew their faces into as many peevish wrinkles as the beaux at the Bow Street Coffee-house, near Covent Garden, did when the gentleman in masquerade came in amongst them, with his oyster-barrel muff and turnip-buttons, to ridicule their foperies.

In A Brief and Merry History of Great Britain we read:

There is a prodigious number of Coffee-Houses in London, after the manner I have seen some in Constantinople. These Coffee-Houses are the constant Rendezvous for Men of Business as well as the idle People. Besides Coffee, there are many other Liquors, which People cannot well relish at first. They smoak Tobacco, game and read Papers of Intelligence; here they treat of Matters of State, make Leagues with Foreign Princes, break them again,[Pg 78] and transact Affairs of the last Consequence to the whole World. They represent these Coffee-Houses as the most agreeable things in London, and they are, in my Opinion, very proper Places to find People that a Man has Business with, or to pass away the Time a little more agreeably than he can do at home; but in other respects they are loathsome, full of smoak, like a Guard-Room, and as much crowded. I believe 'tis these Places that furnish the Inhabitants with Slander, for there one hears exact Account of everything done in Town, as if it were but a Village.

At those Coffee-Houses, near the Courts, called White's, St. James's, Williams's, the Conversation turns chiefly upon the Equipages, Essence, Horse-Matches, Tupees, Modes and Mortgages; the Cocoa-Tree upon Bribery and Corruption, Evil ministers, Errors and Mistakes in Government; the Scotch Coffee-Houses towards Charing Cross, on Places and Pensions; the Tiltyard and Young Man's on Affronts, Honour, Satisfaction, Duels and Rencounters. I was informed that the latter happen so frequently, in this part of the Town, that a Surgeon and a Sollicitor are kept constantly in waiting; the one to dress and heal such Wounds as may be given, and the other in case of Death to bring off the Survivor with a Verdict of Se Devendendo or Manslaughter. In those Coffee-Houses about the Temple the Subjects are generally on Causes, Costs, Demurrers, Rejoinders and Exceptions; Daniel's the Welch Coffee-House in Fleet Street, on Births, Pedigrees and Descents; Child's and the Chapter upon Glebes, Tithes, Advowsons, Rectories and Lectureships; North's Undue Elections, False Polling, Scrutinies, etc.; Hamlin's, Infant-Baptism, Lay-Ordination, Free-Will, Election and Reprobation; Batson's, the Prices of Pepper, Indigo and Salt-Petre; and all those about the Exchange, where the Merchants meet to transact their Affairs, are in a perpetual hurry about Stock-Jobbing, Lying, Cheating, Tricking Widows and Orphans, and committing Spoil and Rapine on the Publick.

White's and Brookes', St. James's Street White's and Brookes', St. James's Street

In the eighteenth century beer and wine were commonly sold at the coffee houses in addition to tea and chocolate. Daniel Defoe, writing of his visit to Shrewsbury in 1724, says, "I found there the most coffee houses around the Town Hall that ever I saw in any town, but when you come into them they are but ale houses, only they think that the name coffee house gives a better air."

Speaking of the coffee houses of the city, Besant says:

Rich merchants alone ventured to enter certain of the coffee houses, where they transacted business more privately and more expeditiously than on the Exchange. There were coffee houses where officers of the army alone were found; where the city shopkeeper met his chums; where actors congregated; where only divines, only lawyers, only physicians, only wits and those who came to hear them were found. In all alike the visitor put down his penny and went in, taking his own seat if he was an habitue; he called for a cup of tea or coffee and paid his twopence for it; he could call also, if he pleased, for a cordial; he was expected to talk with his neighbour whether he knew him or not. Men went to certain coffee houses in order to meet the well-known poets and writers who were to be found there, as Pope went in search of Dryden. The daily papers and the pamphlets of the day were taken in. Some of the coffee houses, but not the more respectable, allowed the use of tobacco.

Coffee House Politicians of the Seventeenth Century Coffee House Politicians of the Seventeenth Century

[Pg 79]

The Great Fair on the Frozen Thames—1683 The Great Fair on the Frozen Thames—1683

From a broadside entitled Wonders on the Deep. Figure 2 is the Duke of York's Coffee House

Mackay, in his Journey Through England (1724), says:

We rise by nine, and those that frequent great men's levees find entertainment at them till eleven, or, as in Holland, go to tea-tables; about twelve the beau monde assemble in several coffee or chocolate houses; the best of which are the Cocoatree and White's chocolate houses, St. James', the Smyrna, Mrs. Rochford's and the British coffee houses; and all these so near one another that in less than an hour you see the company of them all. We are carried to these places in chairs (or sedans), which are here very cheap, a guinea a week, or a shilling per hour, and your chairmen serve you for porters to run on errands, as your gondoliers do at Venice.

If it be fine weather we take a turn into the park till two, when we go to dinner; and if it be dirty, you are entertained at picquet or basset at White's, or you may talk politics at the Smyrna or St. James'. I must not forget to tell you that the parties have their different places, where, however, a stranger is always well received; but a Whig will no more go to the Cocoatree than a Tory will be seen at the Coffee House, St James'.

The Scots go generally to the British, and a mixture of all sorts go to the Smyrna. There are other little coffee houses much frequented in this neighborhood—Young Man's for officers; Old Man's for stock jobbers, paymasters and courtiers, and Little Man's for sharpers. I never was so confounded in my life as when I entered into this last. I saw two or three tables full at faro, and was surrounded by a set of sharp faces that I was afraid would have devoured me with their eyes. I was glad to drop two or three half crowns at faro to get off with a clear skin, and was overjoyed I so got rid of them.

At two we generally go to dinner; ordinaries are not so common here as abroad, yet the French have set up two or three good ones for the convenience of foreigners in Suffolk street, where one is tolerably well served; but the general way here is to make a party at the coffee house to go to dine at the tavern, where we sit till six, when we go to the play, except you are invited to the table of some great man, which strangers are always courted to and nobly entertained.

Mackay writes that "in all the coffee houses you have not only the foreign prints but several English ones with foreign occurrences, besides papers of morality and party disputes."

"After the play," writes Defoe, "the best company generally go to Tom's and Will's coffee houses, near adjoining, where there is playing at picquet and the best of conversation till midnight. Here you will see blue and green ribbons and stars sitting familiarly and talking with the same freedom[Pg 80] as if they had left their equality and degrees of distance at home."

The Lion's Head at Button's Coffee House The Lion's Head at Button's Coffee House

Designed by Hogarth, and put up by Addison, 1713 From a water color by T.H. Shepherd

Before entering the coffee house every one was recommended by the Tatler to prepare his body with three dishes of bohea and to purge his brains with two pinches of snuff. Men had their coffee houses as now they have their clubs—sometimes contented with one, sometimes belonging to three or four. Johnson, for instance, was connected with St. James's, the Turk's Head, the Bedford, Peele's, besides the taverns which he frequented. Addison and Steele used Button's; Swift, Button's, the Smyrna, and St. James's; Dryden, Will's; Pope, Will's and Button's; Goldsmith, the St. James's and the Chapter; Fielding, the Bedford; Hogarth, the Bedford and Slaughter's; Sheridan, the Piazza; Thurlow, Nando's.

Some Famous Coffee Houses

Among the famous English coffee houses of the seventeenth-eighteenth century period were St. James's, Will's, Garraway's, White's, Slaughter's, the Grecian, Button's, Lloyd's, Tom's, and Don Saltero's.

St. James's was a Whig house frequented by members of Parliament, with a fair sprinkling of literary stars. Garraway's catered to the gentry of the period, many of whom naturally had Tory proclivities.

One of the notable coffee houses of Queen Anne's reign was Button's. Here Addison could be found almost every afternoon and evening, along with Steele, Davenant, Carey, Philips, and other kindred minds. Pope was a member of the same coffee house club for a year, but his inborn irascibility eventually led him to drop out of it.

At Button's a lion's head, designed by Hogarth after the Lion of Venice, "a proper emblem of knowledge and action, being all head and paws," was set up to receive letters and papers for the Guardian.[82] The Tatler and the Spectator were born in the coffee house, and probably English prose would never have received the impetus given it by the essays of Addison and Steele had it not been for coffee house associations.

Pope's famous Rape of the Lock grew out of coffee-house gossip. The poem itself contains one charming passage on coffee.[83]

Another frequenter of the coffee houses of London, when he had the money to do so, was Daniel Defoe, whose Robinson Crusoe was the precursor of the English novel. Henry Fielding, one of the greatest of all English novelists, loved the life of the more bohemian coffee houses, and was, in fact, induced to write his first great novel, Joseph Andrews, through coffee-house criticisms of Richardson's Pamela.

Other frequenters of the coffee houses of the period were Thomas Gray and Richard Brinsley Sheridan. Garrick was often to be seen at Tom's in Birchin Lane, where also Chatterton might have been found on many an evening before his untimely death.

The London Pleasure Gardens

The second half of the eighteenth century was covered by the reigns of the Georges. The coffee houses were still an important factor in London life, but were influenced somewhat by the development of gardens in which were served tea, chocolate, and other drinks, as well as coffee. At the coffee houses themselves, while coffee[Pg 81] remained the favorite beverage, the proprietors, in the hope of increasing their patronage, began to serve wine, ale, and other liquors. This seems to have been the first step toward the decay of the coffee house.

A Trio of Notables at Button's in 1730 A Trio of Notables at Button's in 1730

The figure in the cloak is Count Viviani; of the figures facing the reader, the draughts player is Dr. Arbuthnot, and the figure standing is assumed to be Pope]

The coffee houses, however, continued to be the centers of intellectual life. When Samuel Johnson and David Garrick came together to London, literature was temporarily in a bad way, and the hack writers of the time dwelt in Grub Street.

It was not until after Johnson had met with some success, and had established the first of his coffee-house clubs at the Turk's Head, that literature again became a fashionable profession.

This really famous literary club met at the Turk's Head from 1763 to 1783. Among the most notable members were Johnson, the arbiter of English prose; Oliver Goldsmith; Boswell, the biographer; Burke, the orator; Garrick, the actor; and Sir Joshua Reynolds, the painter. Among the later members were Gibbon, the historian; and Adam Smith, the political economist.

Certain it is that during the sway of the English coffee house, and at least partly through its influence, England produced a better prose literature, as embodied alike in her essays, literary criticisms, and novels, than she ever had produced before.

The advent of the pleasure garden brought coffee out into the open in England; and one of the reasons why gardens, such as Ranelagh and Vauxhall, began to be more frequented than the coffee houses was that they were popular resorts for women as well as for men. All kinds of beverages were served in them; and soon the women began to favor tea as an afternoon drink. At least, the great development in the use of tea dates from this period; and many of these resorts called themselves tea gardens.

[Pg 82]

The use of coffee by this time, however, was well established in the homes as a breakfast and dinner beverage, and such consumption more than made up for any loss sustained through the gradual decadence of the coffee house. Yet signs of the change in national taste that arrived with the Georges were not wanting; for the active propaganda of the British East India Company was fairly well launched during Queen Anne's reign.

The London pleasure gardens of the eighteenth century were unique. At one time there was a "mighty maze" of them. Their season extended from April or May to August or September. At first there was no charge for admission, but Warwick Wroth[84] tells us that visitors usually purchased cheese cakes, syllabubs, tea, coffee and ale.

The four best-known London gardens were Vauxhall; Marylebone; Cuper's, where the charge for admission subsequently was fixed at not less than a shilling; and Ranelagh, where the charge of half a crown included "the Elegant Regale" of tea, coffee, and bread and butter.

The pleasure gardens provided walks, rooms for dancing, skittle grounds, bowling greens, variety entertainments, and promenade concerts; and not a few places were given over to fashionable gambling and racing.

The Vauxhall Gardens, one of the most favored resorts of pleasure-seeking Londoners, were located on the Surrey side of the Thames, a short distance east of Vauxhall Bridge. They were originally known as the New Spring Gardens (1661), to distinguish them from the old Spring Gardens at Charing Cross. They became famous in the reign of Charles II. Vauxhall was celebrated for its walks, lit with thousands of lamps, its musical and other performances, suppers, and fireworks. High and low were to be found there, and the drinking of tea and coffee in the arbors was a feature. The illustration shows the garden brightly illuminated by lanterns and lamps on some festival occasion. Coffee and tea were served in the arbors.

Vauxhall Gardens on a Gala Night Vauxhall Gardens on a Gala Night

The Ranelagh, "a place of public entertainment," erected at Chelsea in 1742, was a kind of Vauxhall under cover. The principal room, known as the Rotunda, was circular in shape, 150 feet in diameter, and[Pg 83] had an orchestra in the center and tiers of boxes all around. Promenading and taking refreshments in the boxes were the principal divertisements. Except on gala nights of masquerades and fireworks, only tea, coffee, bread and butter were to be had at Ranelagh.

The Rotunda in Ranelagh Gardens With the Company at Breakfast—1751 The Rotunda in Ranelagh Gardens With the Company at Breakfast—1751

In the group of gardens connected with mineral springs was the Dog and Duck (St. George's Spa), which became at last a tea garden and a dancing saloon of doubtful repute.

Still another division, recognized by Wroth, consisted mainly of tea gardens, among them Highbury Barn, The Canonbury House, Hornsey and Copenhagen House, Bagnigge Wells, and White Conduit House. The two last named were the classic tea gardens of the period. Both were provided with "long rooms" in case of rain, and for indoor promenades with organ music. Then there were the Adam and Eve tea gardens, with arbors for tea-drinking parties, which subsequently became the Adam and Eve Tavern and Coffee House. Well known were the Bayswater Tea Gardens and the Jews Harp House and Tea Gardens. All these were provided with neat, "genteel" boxes, let into the hedges and alcoves, for tea and coffee drinkers.

Locating the Notable Coffee Houses

Garraway's, 3 'Change Alley, Cornhill, was a place for great mercantile transactions. Thomas Garway, the original proprietor, was a tobacconist and coffee man, who claimed to be the first that sold tea in England, although not at this address. The later Garraway's was long famous as a sandwich and drinking room for sherry, pale ale, and punch, in addition to tea and coffee. It is said that the sandwich-maker was occupied two hours in cutting and arranging the sandwiches for the day's consumption. After the "great fire" of 1666 Garraway's moved into the same place in Exchange Alley where Elford had been before the fire. Here he claimed to have the oldest coffee house in London; but the ground on which Bowman's had stood was occupied later by the Virginia and the Jamaica coffee houses. The latter was damaged by the fire of 1748 which consumed Garraway's and Elford's (see map of the 1748 fire).

Will's, the predecessor of Button's, first had the title of the Red Cow, then of[Pg 84] the Rose. It was kept by William Urwin, and was on the north side of Russell Street at the corner of Bow Street. "It was Dryden who made Will's coffee house the great resort of the wits of his time." (Pope and Spence.) The room in which the poet was accustomed to sit was on the first floor; and his place was the place of honor by the fireside in the winter, and at the corner of the balcony, looking over the street, in fine weather; he called the two places his winter and his summer seat. This was called the dining-room floor. The company did not sit in boxes as subsequently, but at various tables which were dispersed through the room. Smoking was permitted in the public room; it was then so much in vogue that it does not seem to have been considered a nuisance. Here, as in other similar places of meeting, the visitors divided themselves into parties; and we are told by Ward that the young beaux and wits, who seldom approached the principal table, thought it a great honor to have a pinch out of Dryden's snuff-box. After Dryden's death Will's was transferred to a house opposite, and became Button's, "over against Thomas's in Covent Garden." Thither also Addison transferred much company from Thomas's. Here Swift first saw Addison. Hither also came "Steele, Arbuthnot and many other wits of the time." Button's continued in vogue until Addison's death and Steele's retirement into Wales, after which the coffee drinkers went to the Bedford, dinner parties to the Shakespeare. Button's was subsequently known as the Caledonien.

Garraway's Coffee House in 'Change Alley Garraway's Coffee House in 'Change Alley

Garway (or Garraway) claimed to have been first to sell Tea in England

Button's Coffee House, Great Russell Street Button's Coffee House, Great Russell Street

Afterward it became the Caledonien
From a water color by T.H. Shepherd

Slaughter's, famous as the resort of painters and sculptors in the eighteenth century, was situated at the upper end of the west side of St. Martin's Lane. Its first landlord was Thomas Slaughter, 1692. A second Slaughter's (New Slaughter's) was established in the same street in 1760, when the original Slaughter's adopted the name of Old Slaughter's. It was torn down in 1843–44. Among the notables who frequented it were Hogarth; young Gainsborough; Cipriani; Haydon; Roubiliac; Hudson, who painted the Dilettanti portraits; M'Ardell, the mezzotinto-scraper;[Pg 85] Luke Sullivan, the engraver; Gardell, the portrait painter; and Parry, the Welsh harper.

Tom's, in Birchin Lane, Cornhill, though in the main a mercantile resort, acquired some celebrity from having been frequented by Garrick. Tom's was also frequented by Chatterton, as a place "of the best resort." Then there was Tom's in Devereux Court, Strand, and Tom's at 17 Great Russell Street, Covent Garden, opposite Button's, a celebrated resort during the reign of Queen Anne and for more than a century after.

The Grecian, Devereux Court, Strand, was originally kept by one Constantine, a Greek. From this house Steele proposed to date his learned articles in the Tatler; it is mentioned in No. 1 of the Spectator, and it was much frequented by Goldsmith. The Grecian was Foote's morning lounge. In 1843 the premises became the Grecian Chambers, with a bust of Lord Devereux, earl of Essex, over the door.

Slaughter's Coffee House, St. Martin's Lane Slaughter's Coffee House, St. Martin's Lane

It was taken down in 1843
From a water color by T.H. Shepherd, 1841

Tom's Coffee House, 17 Great Russell Street Tom's Coffee House, 17 Great Russell Street

Used as a coffee house until 1804 and razed in 1865
From a water color by T.H. Shepherd

Lloyd's, Royal Exchange, celebrated for its priority of shipping intelligence and its marine insurance, originated with Edward Lloyd, who about 1688 kept a coffee house in Tower Street, later in Lombard Street corner of Abchurch Lane. It was a modest place of refreshment for seafarers and merchants. As a matter of convenience, Edward Lloyd prepared "ships' lists" for the guidance of the frequenters of the coffee house. "These lists, which were written by hand, contained," according to Andrew Scott, "an account of vessels which the underwriters who met there were likely to have offered them for insurance." Such was the beginning of two institutions that have since exercised a dominant influence on the sea-carrying trade of the whole world—the Royal Exchange Lloyd's, the greatest insurance institution in the world, and Lloyd's Register of Shipping. Lloyd's now has 1400 agents in all parts of the world. It receives as many as 100,000 telegrams a year. It records through its intelligence service the daily movements of 11,000 vessels.

In the beginning one of the apartments in the Exchange was fitted up as Lloyd's[Pg 86] coffee room. Edward Lloyd died in 1712. Subsequently the coffee house was in Pope's Head Alley, where it was called New Lloyd's coffee house, but on September 14, 1784, it was removed to the northwest corner of the Royal Exchange, where it remained until the partial destruction of that building by fire.

Lloyd's Coffee House in the Royal Exchange, Showing the Subscription Room Lloyd's Coffee House in the Royal Exchange, Showing the Subscription Room

In rebuilding the Exchange there were provided the Subscribers' or Underwriters' room, the Merchants' room, and the Captains' room. The City, second edition, 1848, contains the following description of this most famous rendezvous of eminent merchants, shipowners, underwriters, insurance, stock and exchange brokers:

Here is obtained the earliest news of the arrival and sailing of vessels, losses at sea, captures, recaptures, engagements and other shipping intelligence; and proprietors of ships and freights are insured by the underwriters. The rooms are in the Venetian style with Roman enrichments. At the entrance of the room are exhibited the Shipping Lists, received from Lloyd's agents at home and abroad, and affording particulars of departures or arrivals of vessels, wrecks, salvage, or sale of property saved, etc. To the right and left are "Lloyd's Books," two enormous ledgers. Right hand, ships "spoken with" or arrived at their destined ports; left hand, records of wrecks, fires or severe collisions, written in a fine Roman hand in "double lines." To assist the underwriters in their calculations, at the end of the room is an Anemometer, which registers the state of the wind day and night; attached is a rain gauge.

The British, Cockspur Street, "long a house of call for Scotchmen," was fortunate in its landladies. In 1759 it was kept by the sister of Bishop Douglas, so well known for his works against Lauder and Bower, which may explain its Scottish fame. At another period it was kept by Mrs. Anderson, described in Mackenzie's Life of Home as "a woman of uncommon talents and the most agreeable conversation."

Don Saltero's, 18 Cheyne Walk, Chelsea, was opened by a barber named Salter in 1695. Sir Hans Sloane contributed of his own collection some of the refuse gimcracks that were to be found in Salter's "museum." Vice-Admiral Munden, who had been long on the coast of Spain, where he had acquired a fondness for Spanish titles, named the keeper of the house Don Saltero, and his coffee house and museum Don Saltero's.

Squire's was in Fulwood's Rents, Holburn, running up to Gray's Inn. It was one of the receiving houses of the Spectator. In No. 269 the Spectator accepts Sir Roger de Coverley's invitation to "smoke a pipe with him over a dish of coffee at Squire's. As I love the old man, I take delight in[Pg 87] complying with everything that is agreeable to him, and accordingly waited on him to the coffee-house, where his venerable figure drew upon us the eyes of the whole room. He had no sooner seated himself at the upper end of the high table, but he called for a clean pipe, a paper of tobacco, a dish of coffee, a wax candle and the 'Supplement' (a periodical paper of that time), with such an air of cheerfulness and good humour, that all the boys in the coffee room (who seemed to take pleasure in serving him) were at once employed on his several errands, insomuch that nobody else could come at a dish of tea until the Knight had got all his conveniences about him." Such was the coffee room in the Spectator's day.

Interior of Dick's Coffee House Interior of Dick's Coffee House

From the frontispiece to "The Coffee House—a dramatick Piece" (see chapter XXXII)

The Cocoa-Tree was originally a coffee house on the south side of Pall Mall. When there grew up a need for "places of resort of a more elegant and refined character," chocolate houses came into vogue, and the Cocoa-Tree was the most famous of these. It was converted into a club in 1746.

The Grecian Coffee House, Devereux Court The Grecian Coffee House, Devereux Court

It was closed in 1843. From a drawing dated 1809

White's chocolate house, established by Francis White about 1693 in St. James's Street, originally open to any one as a coffee house, soon became a private club, composed of "the most fashionable exquisites of the town and court." In its coffee-house days, the entrance was sixpence, as compared with the average penny fee of the other coffee houses. Escott refers to White's as being "the one specimen of the class to which it belongs, of a place at which, beneath almost the same roof, and always bearing the same name, whether as coffee house or club, the same class of persons has congregated during more than two hundred years."

Among hundreds of other coffee houses that flourished during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries the following more notable ones are deserving of mention:

[Pg 88]

Don Saltero's Coffee House, Cheyne Walk Don Saltero's Coffee House, Cheyne Walk

From a steel engraving in the British Museum

The British Coffee House The British Coffee House in Cockspur Street

From a print published in 1770

Baker's, 58 'Change Alley, for nearly half a century noted for its chops and steaks broiled in the coffee room and eaten hot from the gridiron; the Baltic, in Threadneedle Street, the rendezvous of brokers and merchants connected with the Russian trade; the Bedford, "under the Piazza, in Covent Garden," crowded every night with men of parts and "signalized for many years as the emporium of wit, the seat of criticism and the standard of taste"; the Chapter, in Paternoster Row, frequented by Chatterton and Goldsmith; Child's, in St. Paul's Churchyard, one of the Spectator's houses, and much frequented by the clergy and fellows of the Royal Society; Dick's, in Fleet Street, frequented by Cowper, and the scene of Rousseau's comedietta, entitled The Coffee House; St. James's, in St. James's Street, frequented by Swift, Goldsmith, and Garrick; Jerusalem, in Cowper's Court, Cornhill, frequented by merchants and captains connected with the commerce of China, India, and Australia; Jonathan's, in 'Change Alley, described by the Tatler as "the general mart of stock jobbers"; the London, in Ludgate Hill, noted for its publishers' sales of stock and copyrights; Man's, in Scotland Yard, which took its name from the proprietor, Alexander Man, and was sometimes known as Old Man's, or the Royal, to distinguish it from Young Man's, Little Man's, New Man's, etc., minor establishments in the neighborhood;[85] Nando's, in Fleet Street, the favorite haunt of Lord Thurlow and many professional loungers, attracted by the fame of the punch and the charms of the landlady; New England and North and South American, in Threadneedle Street, having on its subscription list representatives of Barings, Rothschilds, and other wealthy establishments; Peele's, in Fleet Street, having a portrait of Dr. Johnson said to have been painted by Sir Joshua[Pg 89] Reynolds; the Percy, in Oxford Street, the inspiration for the Percy Anecdotes; the Piazza, in Covent Garden, where Macklin fitted up a large coffee room, or theater, for oratory, and Fielding and Foote poked fun at him; the Rainbow, in Fleet Street, the second coffee house opened in London, having its token money; the Smyrna, in Pall Mall, a "place to talk politics," and frequented by Prior and Swift; Tom King's, one of the old night houses of Covent Garden Market, "well known to all gentlemen to whom beds are unknown"; the Turk's Head, 'Change Alley, which also had its tokens; the Turk's Head, in the Strand, which was a favorite supping house for Dr. Johnson and Boswell; the Folly, a coffee house on a house-boat on the Thames, which became quite notorious during Queen Anne's reign.

The French Coffee House in London, Second Half of the Eighteenth Century The French Coffee House in London, Second Half of the Eighteenth Century

From the original water-color drawing by Thomas Rowlandson

Coffee Pot

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Started originally as a tavern, this hostelry added coffee to its cuisine and became famous in the reign of Louis XV The illustration is from an early print used to advertise the "Royal Drummer's" attractions

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Chapter XI


The introduction of coffee into Paris by Thévenot in 1657—How Soliman Aga established the custom of coffee drinking at the court of Louis XIV—Opening the first coffee houses—How the French adaptation of the Oriental coffee house first appeared in the real French café of François Procope—The important part played by the coffee houses in the development of French literature and the stage—Their association with the Revolution and the founding of the Republic—Quaint customs and patrons—Historic Parisian cafés

If we are to accept the authority of Jean La Roque, "before the year 1669 coffee had scarcely been seen in Paris, except at M. Thévenot's and at the homes of some of his friends. Nor had it been heard of except in the writings of travelers."

As noted in chapter V, Jean de Thévenot brought coffee into Paris in 1657. One account says that a decoction, supposed to have been coffee, was sold by a Levantine in the Petit Châtelet under the name of cohove or cahoue during the reign of Louis XIII, but this lacks confirmation. Louis XIV is said to have been served with coffee for the first time in 1664.

Soon after the arrival, in July, 1669, of the Turkish ambassador, Soliman Aga, it became noised abroad that he had brought with him for his own use, and that of his retinue, great quantities of coffee. He "treated several persons with it, both in the court and the city." At length "many accustomed themselves to it with sugar, and others who found benefit by it could not leave it off."

Within six months all Paris was talking of the sumptuous coffee functions of the ambassador from Mohammed IV to the court of Louis XIV.

Isaac D'Israeli best describes them in his Curiosities of Literature:

On bended knee, the black slaves of the Ambassador, arrayed in the most gorgeous Oriental costumes, served the choicest Mocha coffee in tiny cups of egg-shell porcelain, hot, strong and fragrant, poured out in saucers of gold and silver, placed on embroidered silk doylies fringed with gold bullion, to the grand dames, who fluttered their fans with many grimaces, bending their piquant faces—be-rouged, be-powdered and be-patched—over the new and steaming beverage.

It was in 1669 or 1672 that Madame de Sévigné (Marie de Rabutin-Chantal; 1626–96), the celebrated French letter-writer, is said to have made that famous prophecy, "There are two things Frenchmen will never swallow—coffee and Racine's poetry," sometimes abbreviated into, "Racine and coffee will pass." What Madame really said, according to one authority, was that Racine was writing for Champmeslé, the actress, and not for posterity; again, of coffee she said, "s'en dégoûterait comme; d'un indigne favori" (People will become disgusted with it as with an unworthy favorite).

Larousse says the double judgment was wrongly attributed to Mme. de Sévigné. The celebrated aphorism, like many others, was forged later. Mme. de Sévigné said, "Racine made his comedies for the Champmeslé—not for the ages to come." This was in 1672. Four years later, she said to[Pg 92] her daughter, "You have done well to quit coffee. Mlle. de Mere has also given it up."

Coffee Was First Sold and Served Publicly in the Fair of St.-Germain Coffee Was First Sold and Served Publicly in the Fair of St.-Germain

From a Seventeenth-Century Print

However it may have been, the amiable letter-writer was destined to live to see Frenchmen yielding at once to the lure of coffee and to the poetical artifices of the greatest dramatic craftsman of his day.

While it is recorded that coffee made slow progress with the court of Louis XIV, the next king, Louis XV, to please his mistress, du Barry, gave it a tremendous vogue. It is related that he spent $15,000 a year for coffee for his daughters.

Meanwhile, in 1672, one Pascal, an Armenian, first sold coffee publicly in Paris. Pascal, who, according to one account, was brought to Paris by Soliman Aga, offered the beverage for sale from a tent, which was also a kind of booth, in the fair of St.-Germain, supplemented by the service of Turkish waiter boys, who peddled it among the crowds from small cups on trays. The fair was held during the first two months of spring, in a large open plot just inside the walls of Paris and near the Latin Quarter. As Pascal's waiter boys circulated through the crowds on those chilly days the fragrant odor of freshly made coffee brought many ready sales of the steaming beverage; and soon visitors to the fair learned to look for the "little black" cupful of cheer, or petit noir, a name that still endures.

When the fair closed, Pascal opened a small coffee shop on the Quai de l'École, near the Pont Neuf; but his frequenters were of a type who preferred the beers and wines of the day, and coffee languished. Pascal continued, however, to send his waiter boys with their large coffee jugs, that were heated by lamps, through the streets of Paris and from door to door. Their cheery cry of "café! café!" became a welcome call to many a Parisian, who later missed his petit noir when Pascal gave up and moved on to London, where coffee drinking was then in high favor.

Street Coffee Vender of Paris—Period, 1672 to 1689—Two Sous per Dish, Sugar Included Street Coffee Vender of Paris—Period, 1672 to 1689—Two Sous per Dish, Sugar Included

Lacking favor at court, coffee's progress was slow. The French smart set clung to its light wines and beers. In 1672, Maliban,[Pg 93] another Armenian, opened a coffee house in the rue Bussy, next to the Metz tennis court near St.-Germain's abbey. He supplied tobacco also to his customers. Later he went to Holland, leaving his servant and partner, Gregory, a Persian, in charge. Gregory moved to the rue Mazarine, to be near the Comédie Française. He was succeeded in the business by Makara, another Persian, who later returned to Ispahan, leaving the coffee house to one Le Gantois, of Liége.

About this period there was a cripple boy from Candia, known as le Candiot, who began to cry "coffee!" in the streets of Paris. He carried with him a coffee pot of generous size, a chafing-dish, cups, and all other implements necessary to his trade. He sold his coffee from door to door at two sous per dish, sugar included.

Many of the Early Parisian Coffee Houses Followed Pascal's Lead and Affected Armenian Decorations Many of the Early Parisian Coffee Houses Followed Pascal's Lead and Affected Armenian Decorations

From a Seventeenth-Century Print

A Levantine named Joseph also sold coffee in the streets, and later had several coffee shops of his own. Stephen, from Aleppo, next opened a coffee house on Pont au Change, moving, when his business prospered, to more pretentious quarters in the rue St.-André, facing St.-Michael's bridge.

A Corner of the Historic Café de Procope Showing Voltaire and Diderot in Debate A Corner of the Historic Café de Procope Showing Voltaire and Diderot in Debate

From a rare water color

All these, and others, were essentially the Oriental style of coffee house of the lower order, and they appealed principally to the poorer classes and to foreigners. "Gentlemen and people of fashion" did not care to be seen in this type of public house. But when the French merchants began to set up, first at St.-Germain's fair, "spacious apartments in an elegant manner, ornamented with tapestries, large mirrors, pictures, marble tables, branches for candles, magnificent lustres, and serving coffee, tea, chocolate, and other refreshments", they were soon crowded with people of fashion and men of letters.

In this way coffee drinking in public acquired a badge of respectability. Presently there were some three hundred coffee houses in Paris. The principal coffee men, in addition to plying their trade in the city, maintained coffee rooms in St.-Germain's and St.-Laurence's fairs. These were frequented by women as well as men.

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The Progenitor of the Real Parisian Café

It was not until 1689, that there appeared in Paris a real French adaptation of the Oriental coffee house. This was the Café de Procope, opened by François Procope (Procopio Cultelli, or Cotelli) who came from Florence or Palermo. Procope was a limonadier (lemonade vender) who had a royal license to sell spices, ices, barley water, lemonade, and other such refreshments. He early added coffee to the list, and attracted a large and distinguished patronage.

Procope, a keen-witted merchant, made his appeal to a higher class of patrons than did Pascal and those who first followed him. He established his café directly opposite the newly opened Comédie Française, in the street then known as the rue des Fossés-St.-Germain, but now the rue de l'Ancienne Comédie. A writer of the period has left this description of the place: "The Café de Procope ... was also called the Antre [cavern] de Procope, because it was very dark even in full day, and ill-lighted in the evenings; and because you often saw there a set of lank, sallow poets, who had somewhat the air of apparitions."

Because of its location, the Café de Procope became the gathering place of many noted French actors, authors, dramatists, and musicians of the eighteenth century. It was a veritable literary salon. Voltaire was a constant patron; and until the close of the historic café, after an existence of more than two centuries, his marble table and chair were among the precious relics of the coffee house. His favorite drink is said to have been a mixture of coffee and chocolate. Rousseau, author and philosopher; Beaumarchais, dramatist and financier; Diderot, the encyclopedist; Ste.-Foix, the abbé of Voisenon; de Belloy, author of the Siege of Callais; Lemierre, author of Artaxerce; Crébillon; Piron; La Chaussée; Fontenelle; Condorcet; and a host of lesser lights in the French arts, were habitués of François Procope's modest coffee saloon near the Comédie Française.

Naturally, the name of Benjamin Franklin, recognized in Europe as one of the world's foremost thinkers in the days of the American Revolution, was often spoken over the coffee cups of Café de Procope; and when the distinguished American died in 1790, this French coffee house went into deep mourning "for the great friend of republicanism." The walls, inside and out, were swathed in black bunting, and the statesmanship and scientific attainments of Franklin were acclaimed by all frequenters.

The Café de Procope looms large in the annals of the French Revolution. During the turbulent days of 1789 one could find at the tables, drinking coffee or stronger beverages, and engaged in debate over the burning questions of the hour, such characters as Marat, Robespierre, Danton, Hébert, and Desmoulins. Napoleon Bonaparte, then a poor artillery officer seeking a commission, was also there. He busied himself largely in playing chess, a favorite recreation of the early Parisian coffee-house patrons. It is related that François Procope once compelled young Bonaparte to leave his hat for security while he sought money to pay his coffee score.

After the Revolution, the Café de Procope lost its literary prestige and sank to the level of an ordinary restaurant. During the last half of the nineteenth century, Paul Verlaine, bohemian, poet, and leader of the symbolists, made the Café de Procope his haunt; and for a time it regained some of its lost popularity. The Restaurant Procope still survives at 13 rue de l'Ancienne Comédie.

History records that, with the opening of the Café de Procope, coffee became firmly established in Paris. In the reign of Louis XV there were 600 cafés in Paris. At the close of the eighteenth century there were more than 800. By 1843 the number had increased to more than 3000.

The Development of the Cafés

Coffee's vogue spread rapidly, and many cabaréts and famous eating houses began to add it to their menus. Among these was the Tour d'Argent (silver tower), which had been opened on the Quai de la Tournelle in 1582, and speedily became Paris's most fashionable restaurant. It still is one of the chief attractions for the epicure, retaining the reputation for its cooking that drew a host of world leaders, from Napoleon to Edward VII, to its quaint interior.

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From an engraving by Bosredon

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Another tavern that took up coffee after Procope, was the Royal Drummer, which Jean Ramponaux established at the Courtille des Porcherons and which followed Magny's. His hostelry rightly belongs to the tavern class, although coffee had a prominent place on its menu. It became notorious for excesses and low-class vices during the reign of Louis XV, who was a frequent visitor. Low and high were to be found in Ramponaux's cellar, particularly when some especially wild revelry was in prospect. Marie Antoinette once declared she had her most enjoyable time at a wild farandole in the Royal Drummer. Ramponaux was taken to its heart by fashionable Paris; and his name was used as a trade mark on furniture, clothes, and foods.

The Cashier's Counter in a Paris Coffee House of 1782 The Cashier's Counter in a Paris Coffee House of 1782

From a drawing by Rétif de la Bretonne

The popularity of Ramponaux's Royal Drummer is attested by an inscription on an early print showing the interior of the café. Translated, it reads:

The pleasures of ease untroubled to taste,
The leisure of home to enjoy without haste,
Perhaps a few hours at Magny's to waste,
Ah, that was the old-fashioned way!
Today all our laborers, everyone knows,
Go running away ere the working hours close,
And why? They must be at Monsieur Ramponaux'!
Behold, the new style of café!

When coffee houses began to crop up rapidly in Paris, the majority centered in the Palais Royal, "that garden spot of beauty, enclosed on three sides by three tiers of galleries," which Richelieu had erected in 1636, under the name of Palais Cardinal, in the reign of Louis XIII. It became known as the Palais Royal in 1643; and soon after the opening of the Café de Procope, it began to blossom out with many attractive coffee stalls, or rooms, sprinkled among the other shops that occupied the galleries overlooking the gardens.

Life In The Early Coffee Houses

Diderot tells in 1760, in his Rameau's Nephew, of the life and frequenters of one of the Palais Royal coffee houses, the Regency (Café de la Régence):

In all weathers, wet or fine, it is my practice to go toward five o'clock in the evening to take a turn in the Palais Royal.... If the weather is too cold or too wet I take shelter in the Regency coffee house. There I amuse myself by looking on while they play chess. Nowhere in the world do they play chess as skillfully as in Paris and nowhere in Paris as they do at this coffee house; 'tis here you see Légal the profound, Philidor the subtle, Mayot the solid; here you see the most astounding moves, and listen to the sorriest talk, for if a man be at once a wit and a great chess player, like Légal, he may also be a great chess player and a sad simpleton, like Joubert and Mayot.

The beginnings of the Regency coffee house are associated with the legend that Lefévre, a Parisian, began peddling coffee in the streets of Paris about the time Procope opened his café in 1689. The story has it that Lefévre later opened a café near the Palais Royal, selling it in 1718 to one Leclerc, who named it the Café de la Régence, in honor of the regent of Orleans, a name that still endures on a broad sign over its doors. The nobility had their rendezvous there after having paid their court to the regent.

[Pg 97]


From an engraving by Bosredon

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To name the patrons of the Café de la Régence in its long career would be to outline a history of French literature for more than two centuries. There was Philidor the "greatest theoretician of the eighteenth century, better known for his chess than his music"; Robespierre, of the Revolution, who once played chess with a girl—disguised as a boy—for the life of her lover; Napoleon, who was then noted more for his chess than his empire-building propensities; and Gambetta, whose loud voice, generally raised in debate, disturbed one chess player so much that he protested because he could not follow his game. Voltaire, Alfred de Musset; Victor Hugo, Théophile Gautier, J.J. Rousseau, the Duke of Richelieu, Marshall Saxe, Buffon, Rivarol, Fontenelle, Franklin, and Henry Murger are names still associated with memories of this historic café: Marmontel and Philidor played there at their favorite game of chess. Diderot tells in his Memoirs that his wife gave him every day nine sous to get his coffee there. It was in this establishment that he worked on his Encyclopedia.

Chess is today still in favor at the Régence, although the players are not, as were the earlier patrons, obliged to pay by the hour for their tables with extra charges for candles placed by the chess-boards. The present Café de la Régence is in the rue St.-Honoré, but retains in large measure its aspect of olden days.

Michelet, the historian, has given us a rhapsodic pen picture of the Parisian cafés under the regency:

Paris became one vast café. Conversation in France was at its zenith. There were less eloquence and rhetoric than in '89. With the exception of Rousseau, there was no orator to cite. The intangible flow of wit was as spontaneous as possible. For this sparkling outburst there is no doubt that honor should be ascribed in part to the auspicious revolution of the times, to the great event which created new customs, and even modified human temperament—the advent of coffee.

Its effect was immeasurable, not being weakened and neutralized as it is today by the brutalizing influence of tobacco. They took snuff, but did not smoke. The cabarét was dethroned, the ignoble cabarét, where, during the reign of Louis XIV, the youth of the city rioted amid wine-casks in the company of light women. The night was less thronged with chariots. Fewer lords found a resting place in the gutter. The elegant shop, where conversation flowed, a salon rather than a shop, changed and ennobled its customs. The reign of coffee is that of temperance. Coffee, the beverage of sobriety, a powerful mental stimulant, which, unlike spirituous liquors, increases clearness and lucidity; coffee, which suppresses the vague, heavy fantasies of the imagination, which from the perception of reality brings forth the sparkle and sunlight of truth; coffee anti-erotic....

The three ages of coffee are those of modern thought; they mark the serious moments of the brilliant epoch of the soul.

Arabian coffee is the pioneer, even before 1700. The beautiful ladies that you see in the fashionable rooms of Bonnard, sipping from their tiny cups—they are enjoying the aroma of the finest coffee of Arabia. And of what are they chatting? Of the seraglio, of Chardin, of the Sultana's coiffure, of the Thousand and One Nights (1704). They compare the ennui of Versailles with the paradise of the Orient.

Very soon, in 1710–1720, commences the reign of Indian coffee, abundant, popular, comparatively cheap. Bourbon, our Indian island, where coffee was transplanted, suddenly realizes unheard-of happiness. This coffee of volcanic lands acts as an explosive on the Regency and the new spirit of things. This sudden cheer, this laughter of the old world, these overwhelming flashes of wit, of which the sparkling verse of Voltaire, the Persian Letters, give us a faint idea! Even the most brilliant books have not succeeded in catching on the wing this airy chatter, which comes, goes, flies elusively. This is that spirit of ethereal nature which, in the Thousand and One Nights, the enchanter confined in his bottle. But what phial would have withstood that pressure?

The lava of Bourbon, like the Arabian sand, was unequal to the demand. The Regent recognized this and had coffee transported to the fertile soil of our Antilles. The strong coffee of Santo Domingo, full, coarse, nourishing as well as stimulating, sustained the adult population of that period, the strong age of the encyclopedia. It was drunk by Buffon, Diderot, Rousseau, added its glow to glowing souls, its light to the penetrating vision of the prophets gathered in the cave of Procope, who saw at the bottom of the black beverage the future rays of '89. Danton, the terrible Danton, took several cups of coffee before mounting the tribune. 'The horse must have its oats,' he said.

The vogue of coffee popularized the use of sugar, which was then bought by the ounce at the apothecary's shop. Dufour says that in Paris they used to put so much sugar in the coffee that "it was nothing but a syrup of blackened water." The ladies were wont to have their carriages stop in front of the Paris cafés and to have their coffee served to them by the porter on saucers of silver.

Every year saw new cafés opened. When they became so numerous, and competition grew so keen, it was necessary to invent new attractions for customers. Then was born the café chantant, where songs, monologues, dances, little plays and farces (not always in the best taste), were provided to amuse the frequenters. Many of these cafés chantants were in the open air along the Champs-Elysées. In bad weather, Paris provided the pleasure-seeker with the Eldorado, Alcazar d'Hiver, Scala, Gaieté, Concert du XIXme Siécle, Folies Bobino, Rambuteau, Concert Européen, and countless other meeting places where one could be served with a cup of coffee.

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From an engraving by Bosredon

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As in London, certain cafés were noted for particular followings, like the military, students, artists, merchants. The politicians had their favorite resorts. Says Salvandy:[86]

These were senates in miniature; here mighty political questions were discussed; here peace and war were decided upon; here generals were brought to the bar of justice ... distinguished orators were victoriously refuted, ministers heckled upon their ignorance, their incapacity, their perfidy, their corruption. The café is in reality a French institution; in them we find all these agitations and movements of men, the like of which is unknown in the English tavern. No government can go against the sentiment of the cafés. The Revolution took place because they were for the Revolution. Napoleon reigned because they were for glory. The Restoration was shattered, because they understood the Charter in a different manner.

In 1700 appeared the Portefeuille Galant, containing conversations of the cafés.

The Cafés in the French Revolution

The Palais Royal coffee houses were centers of activity in the days preceding and following the Revolution. A picture of them in the July days of 1789 has been left by Arthur Young, who was visiting Paris at that time:

The coffee houses present yet more singular and astounding spectacles; they are not only crowded within, but other expectant crowds are at the doors and windows, listening à gorge déployée to certain orators who from chairs or tables harangue each his little audience; the eagerness with which they are heard, and the thunder of applause they receive for every sentiment of more than common hardiness or violence against the government, cannot easily be imagined.

The Palais Royal teemed with excited Frenchmen on the fateful Sunday of July 12, 1789. The moment was a tense one, when, coming out of the Café Foy, Camille Desmoulins, a youthful journalist, mounted a table and began the harangue that precipitated the first overt act of the French Revolution. Blazing with a white hot frenzy, he so played upon the passions of the mob that at the conclusion of his speech he and his followers "marched away from the Café on their errand of Revolution." The Bastille fell two days later.

As if abashed by its reputation as the starting point of the mob spirit of the Revolution, Café Foy became in after years a sedate gathering-place of artists and literati. Up to its close it was distinguished among other famous Parisian cafés for its exclusiveness and strictly enforced rule of "no smoking."

Even from the first the Parisian cafés catered to all classes of society; and, unlike the London coffee houses, they retained this distinctive characteristic. A number of them early added other liquid and substantial refreshments, many becoming out-and-out restaurants.

Coffee-House Customs and Patrons

Coffee's effect on Parisians is thus described by a writer of the latter part of the eighteenth century:

I think I may safely assert that it is to the establishment of so many cafés in Paris that is due the urbanity and mildness discernible upon most faces. Before they existed, nearly everybody passed his time at the cabarét, where even business matters were discussed. Since their establishment, people assemble to hear what is going on, drinking and playing only in moderation, and the consequence is that they are more civil and polite, at least in appearance.

Montesquieu's satirical pen pictured in his Persian Letters the earliest cafés as follows:

In some of these houses they talk news; in others, they play draughts. There is one where they prepare the coffee in such a manner that it inspires the drinkers of it with wit; at least, of all those who frequent it, there is not one person in four who does not think he has more wit after he has entered that house. But what offends me in these wits is that they do not make themselves useful to their country.

Montesquieu encountered a geometrician outside a coffee house on the Pont Neuf, and accompanied him inside. He describes the incident in this manner:

I observe that our geometrician was received there with the utmost officiousness, and that the coffee house boys paid him much more respect than two musqueteers who were in a corner of the room. As for him, he seemed as if he thought himself in an agreeable place; for he unwrinkled his brows a little and laughed, as if he had not the least tincture of geometrician in him.... He was offended at every start of wit, as a tender eye is by too strong a light.... At last I saw an old man enter, pale and thin, whom I knew to be a coffee house politician before he sat down; he was not one of those who are never to be intimidated by disasters, but always prophesy of victories and success; he was one of those timorous wretches who are always boding ill.

Café Momus and Café Rotonde figure conspicuously in the record of French bohemianism. The Momus stood near the right bank of the River Seine in rue des Prêtres St.-Germain, and was known as the home of the bohemians. The Rotonde stood on the left bank at the corner of the rue de l'École de Médecine and the rue Hautefeuille.

[Pg 101]


From an engraving by Bosredon

[Pg 102]

Alexandre Schanne has given us a glimpse of bohemian life in the early cafés. He lays his scene in the Café Rotonde, and tells how a number of poor students were wont to make one cup of coffee last the coterie a full evening by using it to flavor and to color the one glass of water shared in common. He says:

Every evening, the first comer at the waiter's inquiry, "What will you take, sir?" never failed to reply, "Nothing just at present, I am waiting for a friend." The friend arrived, to be assailed by the brutal question, "Have you any money?" He would make a despairing gesture in the negative, and then add, loud enough to be heard by the dame du comptoir, "By Jove, no; only fancy, I left my purse on my console-table, with gilt feet, in the purest Louis XV style. Ah! what a thing it is to be forgetful." He would sit down, and the waiter would wipe the table as if he had something to do. A third would come, who was sometimes able to reply, "Yes. I have ten sous." "Good!" we would reply; "order a cup of coffee, a glass and a water bottle; pay and give two sous to the waiter to secure his silence." This would be done. Others would come and take their places beside us, repeating to the waiter the same chorus, "We are with this gentleman." Frequently we would be eight or nine sitting at the same table, and only one customer. Whilst smoking and reading the papers we would, however, pass the glass and bottle. When the water began to run short, as on a ship in distress, one of us would have the impudence to call out, "Waiter, some water!" The master of the establishment, who understood our situation, had no doubt given orders for us to be left alone, and made his fortune without our help. He was a good fellow and an intelligent one, having subscribed to all the scientific journals of Europe, which brought him the custom of foreign students.

Another café perpetuating the best traditions of the Latin Quarter was the Vachette, which survived until the death of Jean Moréas in 1911. The Vachette is usually cited by antiquarians as a model of circumspection as compared with the scores of cafés in the Quarter that were given up to debaucheries. One writer puts it: "The Vachette traditions leaned more to scholarship than sensuality."

In the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries the Parisian café was truly a coffee house; but as many of the patrons began to while away most of their waking hours in them, the proprietors added other beverages and food to hold their patronage. Consequently, we find listed among the cafés of Paris some houses that are more accurately described as restaurants, although they may have started their careers as coffee houses.

Historic Parisian Cafés

Some of the historic cafés are still thriving in their original locations, although the majority have now passed into oblivion. Glimpses of the more famous houses are to be found in the novels, poetry, and essays written by the French literati who patronized them. These first-hand accounts give insights that are sometimes stirring, often amusing, and frequently revolting—such as the assassination of St.-Fargean in Février's low-vaulted cellar café in the Palais Royal.

There is Magny's, originally the haunt of such literary men as Gautier, Taine, Saint-Victor, Turguenieff, de Goncourt, Soulie, Renan, Edmond. In recent years the old Magny's was razed, and on its site was built the modern restaurant of the same name, but in a style that has no resemblance to its predecessor. Even the name of the street has been changed, from rue Contrescarpe to the rue Mazet.

Méot's, the Véry, Beauvilliers', Massé's, the Café Chartres, the Troi Fréres Provençaux, and the du Grand Commun, all situated in the Palais Royal, are cafés that figured conspicuously in the French Revolution, and are closely identified with the French stage and literature. Méot's and Massé's were the trysting places of the Royalists in the days preceding the outbreak, but welcomed the Revolutionists after they came in power. The Chartres was notorious as the gathering place of young aristocrats who escaped the guillotine, and, thus made bold, often called their like from adjoining cafés to partake in some of their plans for restoration of the empire. The Trois Fréres Provençaux, well known for its excellent and costly dinners, is mentioned by Balzac, Lord Lytton, and Alfred de Musset in some of their novels. The Café du Grand Commun appears in Rousseau's Confessions in connection with the play Devin du Village.

Among the most famous of the cafés on the Rue St. Honoré were Venua's, patronized by Robespierre and his companions of the Revolution, and perhaps the scene of the inhuman murder of Berthier and its revolting aftermath; the Mapinot, which has gone down in café history as the scene of the banquet to Archibald Alison, the 22-year-old[Pg 103] historian; and Voisin's café, around which still cling traditions of such literary lights as Zola, Alphonse Daudet, and Jules de Goncourt.

Interior of a Typical Parisian Café of the Early Nineteenth Century Interior of a Typical Parisian Café of the Early Nineteenth Century

Perhaps the boulevard des Italiens had, and still has, more fashionable cafés than any other section of the French capital. The Tortoni, opened in the early days of the Empire by Velloni, an Italian lemonade vender, was the most popular of the boulevard cafés, and was generally thronged with fashionables from all parts of Europe. Here Louis Blanc, historian of the Revolution, spent many hours in the early days of his fame. Talleyrand; Rossini, the musician; Alfred Stevens and Edouard Manet, artists, are some of the names still linked with the traditions of the Tortoni. Farther down the boulevard were the Café Riche, Maison Dorée, Café Anglais, and the Café de Paris. The Riche and the Dorée, standing side by side, were both high-priced and noted for their revelries. The Anglais, which came into existence after the snuffing out of the Empire, was also distinguished for its high prices, but in return gave an excellent dinner and fine wines. It is told that even during the siege of Paris the Anglais offered its patrons "such luxuries as ass, mule, peas, fried potatoes, and champagne."

Probably the Café de Paris, which came into existence in 1822, in the former home of the Russian Prince Demidoff, was the most richly equipped and elegantly conducted of any café in Paris in the nineteenth century. Alfred de Musset, a frequenter, said, "you could not open its doors for less than 15 francs."

The Café Littéraire, opened on boulevard Bonne Nouvelle late in the nineteenth century, made a direct appeal to literary men for patronage, printing this footnote on its menu: "Every customer spending a franc in this establishment is entitled to one volume of any work to be selected from our vast collection."

The names of Parisian cafés once more or less famous are legion. Some of them are:

The Café Laurent, which Rousseau was forced to leave after writing an especially bitter satire; the English café in which eccentric Lord Wharton made merry with the Whig habitués; the Dutch café, the haunt of Jacobites; Terre's, in the rue Neuve des Petits Champs, which Thackeray described in The Ballad of Bouillabaisse; Maire's, in the boulevard St.-Denis, which dates back beyond 1850; the Café Madrid, in the boulevard Montmartre, of which Carjat, the Spanish lyric poet, was an attraction; the Café de la Paix, in the[Pg 104] boulevard des Capucines, the resort of Second Empire Imperialists and their spies; the Café Durand, in the place de la Madeleine, which started on a plane with the high-priced Riche, and ended its career early in the twentieth century; the Rocher de Cancale, memorable for its feasts and high-living patrons from all over Europe; the Café Guerbois, near the rue de St. Petersburg, where Manet, the impressionist, after many vicissitudes, won fame for his paintings and held court for many years; the Chat Noir, on the rue Victor Massé at Montmartre, a blend of café and concert hall, which has since been imitated widely, both in name and feature.

Chess Has Been a Favorite Pastime at the Café de la Régence for two hundred years. Chess Has Been a Favorite Pastime at the Café de la Régence for two hundred years.

[Pg 105]

Chapter XII


Captain John Smith, founder of the Colony of Virginia, is the first to bring to North America a knowledge of coffee in 1607—The coffee grinder on the Mayflower—Coffee drinking in 1668—William Penn's coffee purchase in 1683—Coffee in colonial New England—The psychology of the Boston "tea party," and why the United States became a nation of coffee drinkers instead of tea drinkers, like England—The first coffee license to Dorothy Jones in 1670—The first coffee house in New England—Notable coffee houses of old Boston—A skyscraper coffee house

Undoubtedly the first to bring a knowledge of coffee to North America was Captain John Smith, who founded the Colony of Virginia at Jamestown in 1607. Captain Smith became familiar with coffee in his travels in Turkey.

Although the Dutch also had early knowledge of coffee, it does not appear that the Dutch West India Company brought any of it to the first permanent settlement on Manhattan Island (1624). Nor is there any record of coffee in the cargo of the Mayflower (1620), although it included a wooden mortar and pestle, later used to make "coffee powder."

In the period when New York was New Amsterdam, and under Dutch occupancy (1624–64), it is possible that coffee may have been imported from Holland, where it was being sold on the Amsterdam market as early as 1640, and where regular supplies of the green bean were being received from Mocha in 1663; but positive proof is lacking. The Dutch appear to have brought tea across the Atlantic from Holland before coffee. The English may have introduced the coffee drink into the New York colony between 1664 and 1673. The earliest reference to coffee in America is 1668[87], at which time a beverage made from the roasted beans, and flavored with sugar or honey, and cinnamon, was being drunk in New York.

Coffee first appears in the official records of the New England colony in 1670. In 1683, the year following William Penn's settlement on the Delaware, we find him buying supplies of coffee in the New York market and paying for them at the rate of eighteen shillings and nine pence per pound.[88]

Coffee houses patterned after the English and Continental prototypes were soon established in all the colonies. Those of New York and Philadelphia are described in separate chapters. The Boston houses are described at the end of this chapter.

Norfolk, Chicago, St. Louis, and New Orleans also had them. Conrad Leonhard's coffee house at 320 Market Street. St. Louis, was famous for its coffee and coffee cake, from 1844 to 1905, when it became a bakery and lunch room, removing in 1919 to Eighth and Pine Streets.

In the pioneer days of the great west, coffee and tea were hard to get; and, instead of them, teas were often made from garden herbs, spicewood, sassafras-roots,[Pg 106] and other shrubs, taken from the thickets[89]. In 1839, in the city of Chicago, one of the minor taverns was known as the Lake Street coffee house. It was situated at the corner of Lake and Wells Streets. A number of hotels, which in the English sense might more appropriately be called inns, met a demand for modest accommodation[90]. Two coffee houses were listed in the Chicago directories for 1843 and 1845, the Washington coffee house, 83 Lake Street; and the Exchange coffee house, Clarke Street between La Salle and South Water Streets.

Types of Colonial Coffee Roasters Types of Colonial Coffee Roasters

The cylinder at the top of the picture was revolved by hand in the fireplace; the skillets were set in the smouldering ashes

The old-time coffee houses of New Orleans were situated within the original area of the city, the section bounded by the river, Canal Street, Esplanade Avenue and Rampart Street. In the early days most of the big business of the city was transacted in the coffee houses. The brûleau, coffee with orange juice, orange peel, and sugar, with cognac burned and mixed in it, originated in the New Orleans coffee house, and led to its gradual evolution into the saloon.

How the United States Became a Nation of Coffee Drinkers

Coffee, tea, and chocolate were introduced into North America almost simultaneously in the latter part of the seventeenth century. In the first half of the eighteenth century, tea had made such progress in England, thanks to the propaganda of the British East India Company, that, being moved to extend its use in the colonies, the directors turned their eyes first in the direction of North America. Here, however, King George spoiled their well-laid plans by his unfortunate stamp act of 1765, which caused the colonists to raise the cry of "no taxation without representation."

Although the act was repealed in 1766, the right to tax was asserted, and in 1767 was again used, duties being laid on paints, oils, lead, glass, and tea. Once more the colonists resisted; and, by refusing to import any goods of English make, so distressed the English manufacturers that Parliament repealed every tax save that on tea. Despite the growing fondness for the beverage in America, the colonists preferred to get their tea elsewhere to sacrificing their principles and buying it from England. A brisk trade in smuggling tea from Holland was started.

In a panic at the loss of the most promising of its colonial markets, the British East India Company appealed to Parliament for aid, and was permitted to export tea, a privilege it had never before enjoyed. Cargoes were sent on consignment to selected commissioners in Boston, New York, Philadelphia, and Charleston. The story of the subsequent happenings properly belongs in a book on tea. It is sufficient here to refer to the climax of the agitation against the fateful tea tax, because it is undoubtedly responsible for our becoming a nation of coffee drinkers instead of one of tea drinkers, like England.

An Early Family Coffee Roaster An Early Family Coffee Roaster

This machine, known in Holland as a "Coffee Burner," was used late in the 18th century in New England. It hung in the fireplace or stood in the embers

The Boston "tea party" of 1773, when citizens of Boston, disguised as Indians, boarded the English ships lying in Boston harbor and threw their tea cargoes into the[Pg 107] bay, cast the die for coffee; for there and then originated a subtle prejudice against "the cup that cheers", which one hundred and fifty years have failed entirely to overcome. Meanwhile, the change wrought in our social customs by this act, and those of like nature following it, in the New York, Pennsylvania, and Charleston colonies, caused coffee to be crowned "king of the American breakfast table", and the sovereign drink of the American people.

Historical Relics Associated With the Early Days of Coffee in New England Historical Relics Associated With the Early Days of Coffee in New England

These exhibits are in the Museum of the Maine Historical Society at Portland. On the left is Kenrick's Patent coffee mill. In the center is a Britannia urn with an iron bar for heating the liquid. The bar was encased in a tin receptacle that hung inside the cover. On the right is a wall type of coffee or spice grinder

Coffee in Colonial New England

The history of coffee in colonial New England is so closely interwoven with the story of the inns and taverns that it is difficult to distinguish the genuine coffee house, as it was known in England, from the public house where lodgings and liquors were to be had. The coffee drink had strong competition from the heady wines, the liquors, and imported teas, and consequently it did not attain the vogue among the colonial New Englanders that it did among Londoners of the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries.

Although New England had its coffee houses, these were actually taverns where coffee was only one of the beverages served to patrons. "They were", says Robinson, "generally meeting places of those who were conservative in their views regarding church and state, being friends of the ruling administration. Such persons were terms 'Courtiers' by their adversaries, the Dissenters and Republicans."

Most of the coffee houses were established in Boston, the metropolis of the Massachusetts Colony, and the social center of New England. While Plymouth, Salem, Chelsea, and Providence had taverns that served coffee, they did not achieve the name and fame of some of the more celebrated coffee houses in Boston.

It is not definitely known when the first coffee was brought in; but it is reasonable to suppose that it came as part of the household supplies of some settler (probably between 1660 and 1670), who had become acquainted with it before leaving England. Or it may have been introduced by some British officer, who in London had made the rounds of the more celebrated coffee houses of the latter half of the seventeenth century.

The First Coffee License

According to early town records of Boston, Dorothy Jones was the first to be licensed to sell "coffee and cuchaletto," the latter being the seventeenth-century spelling for chocolate or cocoa. This license is dated 1670, and is said to be the first written reference to coffee in the Massachusetts Colony. It is not stated whether Dorothy Jones was a vender of the coffee drink or of "coffee powder," as ground coffee was known in the early days.

[Pg 108]

The Mayflower "Coffee Grinder" The Mayflower "Coffee Grinder"

Mortar and pestle for "braying" coffee to make coffee powder, brought over in the Mayflower by the parents of Peregrine White

There is some question as to whether Dorothy Jones was the first to sell coffee as a beverage in Boston. Londoners had known and drunk coffee for eighteen years before Dorothy Jones got her coffee license. British government officials were frequently taking ship from London to the Massachusetts Colony, and it is likely that they brought tidings and samples of the coffee the English gentry had lately taken up. No doubt they also told about the new-style coffee houses that were becoming popular in all parts of London. And it may be assumed that their tales caused the landlords of the inns and taverns of colonial Boston to add coffee to their lists of beverages.

New England's First Coffee House

The name coffee house did not come into use in New England until late in the seventeenth century. Early colonial records do not make it clear whether the London coffee house or the Gutteridge coffee house was the first to be opened in Boston with that distinctive title. In all likelihood the London is entitled to the honor, for Samuel Gardner Drake in his History and Antiquities of the City of Boston, published in 1854, says that "Benj. Harris sold books there in 1689." Drake seems to be the only historian of early Boston to mention the London coffee house.

Granting that the London coffee house was the first in Boston, then the Gutteridge coffee house was the second. The latter stood on the north side of State Street, between Exchange and Washington Streets, and was named after Robert Gutteridge, who took out an innkeeper's license in 1691. Twenty-seven years later, his widow, Mary Gutteridge, petitioned the town for a renewal of her late husband's permit to keep a public coffee house.

The British coffee house, which became the American coffee house when the crown officers and all things British became obnoxious to the colonists, also began its career about the time Gutteridge took out his license. It stood on the site that is now 66 State Street, and became one of the most widely known coffee houses in colonial New England.

Of course, there were several inns and taverns in existence in Boston long before coffee and coffee houses came to the New England metropolis. Some of these taverns took up coffee when it became fashionable in the colony, and served it to those patrons who did not care for the stronger drinks.

The Crown Coffee House, Boston The Crown Coffee House, Boston

One of the first in New England to bear the distinctive name of coffee house; opened in 1711 and burned down in 1780

The earliest known inn was set up by Samuel Cole in Washington Street, midway between Faneuil Hall and State Street. Cole was licensed as a "comfit maker" in 1634, four years after the founding of Boston; and two years later, his inn was the[Pg 109] temporary abiding place of the Indian chief Miantonomoh and his red warriors, who came to visit Governor Vane. In the following year, the Earl of Marlborough found that Cole's inn was so "exceedingly well governed," and afforded so desirable privacy, that he refused the hospitality of Governor Winthrop at the governor's mansion.

Coffee Making and Serving Devices Used in the Massachusetts Colony Coffee Making and Serving Devices Used in the Massachusetts Colony

These exhibits are in the Museum of the Essex Institute at Salem, Mass. Top row, left and right, Britannia serving pots; center, Britannia table urn; bottom row, left end, tin coffee making pot; center, Britannia serving pots; right end, tin French drip pot

Another popular inn of the day was the Red Lyon, which was opened in 1637 by Nicholas Upshall, the Quaker, who later was hanged for trying to bribe a jailer to pass some food into the jail to two Quakeresses who were starving within.

Ship tavern, erected in 1650, at the corner of North and Clark Streets, then on the waterfront, was a haunt of British government officials. The father of Governor Hutchinson was the first landlord, to be succeeded in 1663 by John Vyal. Here lived the four commissioners who were sent to these shores by King Charles II to settle the disputes then beginning between the colonies and England.

Another lodging and eating place for the gentlemen of quality in the first days of Boston was the Blue Anchor, in Cornhill, which was conducted in 1664 by Robert Turner. Here gathered members of the government, visiting officials, jurists, and the clergy, summoned into synod by the Massachusetts General Court. It is assumed that the clergy confined their drinking to coffee and other moderate beverages, leaving the wines and liquors to their confrères.

Some Notable Boston Coffee Houses

In the last quarter of the seventeenth century quite a number of taverns and inns sprang up. Among the most notable that have obtained recognition in Boston's historical records were the King's Head, at the corner of Fleet and North Streets; the Indian Queen, on a passageway leading from Washington Street to Hawley Street; the Sun, in Faneuil Hall Square, and the Green Dragon, which became one of the most celebrated coffee-house taverns.

The King's Head, opened in 1691, early became a rendezvous of crown officers and the citizens in the higher strata of colonial society.

The Indian Queen also became a favorite resort of the crown officers from Province House. Started by Nathaniel Bishop about 1673, it stood for more than 145 years as[Pg 110] the Indian Queen, and then was replaced by the Washington coffee house, which became noted throughout New England as the starting place for the Roxbury "hourlies," the stage coaches that ran every hour from Boston to nearby Roxbury.

Coffee Devices that Figured in the Pioneering of the Great West Coffee Devices that Figured in the Pioneering of the Great West

Photographed for this work in the Museum of the State Historical Society of Wisconsin. Left to right, English decorated tin pot; coffee and spice mill from Lexington, Mass.; Globe roaster built by Rays & Wilcox Co., Berlin, Conn., under Wood's patent; sheet brass coffee mill from Lexington, Mass.; John Luther's coffee mill, Warren, R.I.; cast-iron hopper mill

The Sun tavern lived a longer life than any other Boston inn. Started in 1690 in Faneuil Hall Square, it was still standing in 1902, according to Henry R. Blaney; but has since been razed to make way for a modern skyscraper.

Metal and China Coffee Pots Used in New England's Colonial Days Metal and China Coffee Pots Used in New England's Colonial Days

From the collection in the Museum of the Pocumtuck Valley Memorial Association, Deerfield, Mass.

New England's Most Famous Coffee House

The Green Dragon, the last of the inns that were popular at the close of the seventeenth century, was the most celebrated of Boston's coffee-house taverns. It stood on Union Street, in the heart of the town's business center, for 135 years, from 1697 to 1832, and figured in practically all the important local and national events during its long career. Red-coated British soldiers, colonial governors, bewigged crown officers, earls and dukes, citizens of high estate, plotting revolutionists of lesser degree, conspirators in the Boston Tea Party, patriots and generals of the Revolution—all these were wont to gather at the Green Dragon to discuss their various interests over their cups of coffee, and stronger drinks. In the words of Daniel Webster, this famous coffee-house tavern was the "headquarters of the Revolution." It was here that Warren, John Adams, James Otis, and Paul Revere met as a "ways and means committee" to secure freedom for the American colonies. Here, too, came members of the Grand Lodge of Masons to hold their meetings under the guidance of Warren, who was the first grand master of the first Masonic lodge in Boston. The site of the old tavern, now occupied by a business block, is still the property of the St. Andrew's[Pg 111] Lodge of Free Masons. The old tavern was a two-storied brick structure with a sharply pitched roof. Over its entrance hung a sign bearing the figure of a green dragon.

The Green Dragon, the Center of Social and Political Life in Boston for 135 Years The Green Dragon, the Center of Social and Political Life in Boston for 135 Years

This tavern figured in practically all the important national affairs from 1697 to 1832, and, according to Daniel Webster, was the "headquarters of the Revolution"

Patrons of the Green Dragon and the British coffee house were decidedly opposed in their views on the questions of the day. While the Green Dragon was the gathering place of the patriotic colonials, the British was the rendezvous of the loyalists, and frequent were the encounters between the patrons of these two celebrated taverns. It was in the British coffee house that James Otis was so badly pummeled, after being lured there by political enemies, that he never regained his former brilliancy as an orator.

It was there, in 1750, that some British red coats staged the first theatrical entertainment given in Boston, playing Otway's Orphan. There, the first organization of citizens to take the name of a club formed the Merchants' Club in 1751. The membership included officers of the king, colonial governors and lesser officials, military and naval leaders, and members of the bar, with a sprinkling of high-ranking citizens who were staunch friends of the crown. However, the British became so generally disliked that as soon as the king's troops evacuated Boston in the Revolution, the name of the coffee house was changed to the American.

The Bunch of Grapes, that Francis Holmes presided over as early as 1712, was another hot-bed of politicians. Like the Green Dragon over the way, its patrons included unconditional freedom seekers, many coming from the British coffee house when things became too hot for them in that Tory atmosphere. The Bunch of Grapes became the center of a stirring celebration in 1776, when a delegate from Philadelphia read the Declaration of Independence from the balcony of the inn to the crowd assembled in the street below. So enthusiastic did the Bostonians become that, in the excitement that followed, the inn was nearly destroyed when one enthusiast built a bonfire too close to its walls. Another anecdote told of the Bunch of Grapes concerns Sir William Phipps, governor of Massachusetts from 1692–94, who was noted for his irascibility. He had his favorite chair and window in the inn, and in the accounts of the period it is written that on any fine afternoon his glowering countenance could be seen at the window by the passers-by on State Street.

[Pg 112]

After the beginning of the eighteenth century the title of coffee house was applied to a number of hostelries opened in Boston. One of these was the Crown, which was opened in the "first house on Long Wharf" in 1711 by Jonathan Belcher, who later became governor of Massachusetts, and still later of New Jersey. The first landlord of the Crown was Thomas Selby, who by trade was a periwig maker, but probably found the selling of strong drink and coffee more profitable. Selby's coffee house was also used as an auction room. The Crown stood until 1780, when it was destroyed in a fire that swept the Long Wharf. On its site now stands the Fidelity Trust Company at 148 State Street.

Another early Boston coffee house on State Street was the Royal Exchange. How long it had been standing before it was first mentioned in colonial records in 1711 is unknown. It occupied an ancient two-story building, and was kept in 1711 by Benjamin Johns. This coffee house became the starting place for stage coaches running between Boston and New York, the first one leaving September 7, 1772. In the Columbian Centinel of January 1, 1800, appeared an advertisement in which it was said: "New York and Providence Mail Stage leaves Major Hatches' Royal Exchange Coffee House in State Street every morning at 8 o'clock."

In the latter half of the eighteenth century the North-End coffee house was celebrated as the highest-class coffee house in Boston. It occupied the three-storied brick mansion which had been built about 1740 by Edward Hutchinson, brother of the noted governor. It stood on the west side of North Street, between Sun Court and Fleet Street, and was one of the most pretentious of its kind. An eighteenth century writer, in describing this coffee-house mansion, made much of the fact that it had forty-five windows and was valued at $4,500, a large sum for those days. During the Revolution, Captain David Porter, father of Admiral David D. Porter, was the landlord, and under him it became celebrated throughout the city as a high-grade eating place. The advertisements of the North-End coffee house featured its "dinners and suppers—small and retired rooms for small company—oyster suppers in the nicest manner."

Metal Coffee Pots Used in the New York Colony Metal Coffee Pots Used in the New York Colony

Left, tin coffee pot, dark brown, with "love apple" decoration in red, New Jersey Historical Society, Newark; right, weighted bottom tin pot with rose decoration, private owner

A "Skyscraper" Coffee House

The Boston coffee-house period reached its height in 1808, when the doors of the Exchange coffee house were thrown open after three years of building. This structure,[Pg 113] situated on Congress Street near State Street, was the skyscraper of its day, and probably was the most ambitious coffee-house project the world has known. Built of stone, marble, and brick, it stood seven stories high, and cost a half-million dollars. Charles Bulfinch, America's most noted architect of that period, was the designer.

Exchange Coffee House, Boston, 1808, Probably the Largest and Most Costly in the World Exchange Coffee House, Boston, 1808, Probably the Largest and Most Costly in the World

Built of stone, marble and brick, it stood seven stories high and cost $500,000. It was patterned after Lloyd's of London, and was the center of marine intelligence in Boston

Like Lloyd's coffee house in London, the Exchange was the center of marine intelligence, and its public rooms were thronged all day and evening with mariners, naval officers, ship and insurance brokers, who had come to talk shop or to consult the records of ship arrivals and departures, manifests, charters, and other marine papers. The first floor of the Exchange was devoted to trading. On the next floor was the large dining room, where many sumptuous banquets were given, notably the one to President Monroe in July, 1817, which was attended by former President John Adams, and by many generals, commodores, governors, and judges. The other floors were given over to living and sleeping rooms, of which there were more than 200. The Exchange coffee house was destroyed by fire in 1818; and on its site was erected another, bearing the same name, but having slight resemblance to its predecessor.

Coffee Pot

[Pg 114]


The reception took place April 23, 1789, one week before his inauguration. From a painting by Charles P. Gruppe, owned by the author

[Pg 115]

Chapter XIII


The burghers of New Amsterdam begin to substitute coffee for "must," or beer, at breakfast in 1668—William Penn makes his first purchase of coffee in the green bean from New York merchants in 1683—The King's Arms, the first coffee house—The historic Merchants, sometimes called the "Birthplace of our Union"—The coffee house as a civic forum—The Exchange, Whitehall, Burns, Tontine, and other celebrated coffee houses—The Vauxhall and Ranelagh pleasure gardens

The Dutch founders of New York seem to have introduced tea into New Amsterdam before they brought in coffee. This was somewhere about the middle of the seventeenth century. We find it recorded that about 1668 the burghers succumbed to coffee[91]. Coffee made its way slowly, first in the homes, where it replaced the "must", or beer, at breakfast. Chocolate came about the same time, but was more of a luxury than tea or coffee.

After the surrender of New York to the British in 1674, English manners and customs were rapidly introduced. First tea, and later coffee, were favorite beverages in the homes. By 1683 New York had become so central a market for the green bean, that William Penn, as soon as he found himself comfortably settled in the Pennsylvania Colony, sent over to New York for his coffee supplies[92]. It was not long before a social need arose that only the London style of coffee house could fill.

The coffee houses of early New York, like their prototypes in London, Paris, and other old world capitals, were the centers of the business, political and, to some extent, of the social life of the city. But they never became the forcing-beds of literature that the French and English houses were, principally because the colonists had no professional writers of note.

There is one outstanding feature of the early American coffee houses, particularly of those opened in New York, that is not distinctive of the European houses. The colonists sometimes held court trials in the long, or assembly, room of the early coffee houses; and often held their general assembly and council meetings there.

The Coffee House as a Civic Forum

The early coffee house was an important factor in New York life. What the perpetuation of this public gathering place meant to the citizens is shown by a complaint (evidently designed to revive the declining fortunes of the historic Merchants coffee house) in the New York Journal of October 19, 1775, which, in part, said:

To the Inhabitants of New York:

It gives me concern, in this time of public difficulty and danger, to find we have in this city no place of daily general meeting, where we might hear and communicate intelligence from every quarter and freely confer with one another on every matter that concerns us. Such a place of general meeting is of very great advantage in many respects, especially at such a time as this, besides the satisfaction it affords and the sociable disposition it has a tendency to keep up among us, which was never more wanted than at this time. To answer all these and many other good and useful purposes, coffee houses[Pg 116] have been universally deemed the most convenient places of resort, because, at a small expense of time or money, persons wanted may be found and spoke with, appointments may be made, current news heard, and whatever it most concerns us to know. In all cities, therefore, and large towns that I have seen in the British dominions, sufficient encouragement has been given to support one or more coffee houses in a genteel manner. How comes it then that New York, the most central, and one of the largest and most prosperous cities in British America, cannot support one coffee house? It is a scandal to the city and its inhabitants to be destitute of such a convenience for want of due encouragement. A coffee house, indeed, there is, a very good and comfortable one, extremely well tended and accommodated, but it is frequented but by an inconsiderable number of people; and I have observed with surprise, that but a small part of those who do frequent it, contribute anything at all to the expense of it, but come in and go out without calling for or paying anything to the house. In all the coffee houses in London, it is customary for every one that comes in to call for at least a dish of coffee, or leave the value of one, which is but reasonable, because when the keepers of these houses have been at the expense of setting them up and providing all necessaries for the accommodation of company, every one that comes to receive the benefit of these conveniences ought to contribute something towards the expense of them.

A Friend to the City.

New York's First Coffee House

Some chroniclers of New York's early days are confident that the first coffee house in America was opened in New York; but the earliest authenticated record they have presented is that on November 1, 1696, John Hutchins bought a lot on Broadway, between Trinity churchyard and what is now Cedar Street, and there built a house, naming it the King's Arms. Against this record, Boston can present the statement in Samuel Gardner Drake's History and Antiquities of the City of Boston that Benj. Harris sold books at the "London Coffee House" in 1689.

New York's Pioneer Coffee House, The King's Arms, Opened in 1696 New York's Pioneer Coffee House, The King's Arms, Opened in 1696

This view shows the garden side of the historic old house as it was conducted by John Hutchins, near Trinity Church, on Broadway. The observatory may have been added later

The King's Arms was built of wood, and had a front of yellow brick, said to have been brought from Holland. The building was two stories high, and on the roof was an "observatory," arranged with seats, and[Pg 117] commanding a fine view of the bay, the river, and the city. Here the coffee-house visitors frequently sat in the afternoons. It is not shown in the illustration.

Burns Coffee House as It Appeared About the Middle of the Nineteenth Century Burns Coffee House as It Appeared About the Middle of the Nineteenth Century

It stood for many years on Broadway, opposite Bowling Green, in the old De Lancey House, becoming known in 1763 as the King's Arms, and later the Atlantic Garden House

The sides of the main room on the lower floor were lined with booths, which, for the sake of greater privacy, were screened with green curtains. There a patron could sip his coffee, or a more stimulating drink, and look over his mail in the same exclusiveness affected by the Londoner of the time.

The rooms on the second floor were used for special meetings of merchants, colonial magistrates and overseers, or similar public and private business.

The meeting room, as above described, seems to have been one of the chief features distinguishing a coffee house from a tavern. Although both types of houses had rooms for guests, and served meals, the coffee house was used for business purposes by permanent customers, while the tavern was patronized more by transients. Men met at the coffee house daily to carry on business, and went to the tavern for convivial purposes or lodgings. Before the front door hung the sign of "the lion and the unicorn fighting for the crown."

For many years the King's Arms was the only coffee house in the city; or at least no other seems of sufficient importance to have been mentioned in colonial records. For this reason it was more frequently designated as "the" coffee house than the King's Arms. Contemporary records of the arrest of John Hutchins of the King's Arms, and of Roger Baker, for speaking disrespectfully of King George, mention the King's Head, of which Baker was proprietor. But it is generally believed that this public house was a tavern and not rightfully to be considered as a coffee house. The White Lion, mentioned about 1700, was also a tavern, or inn.

The New Coffee House

Under date of September 22, 1709, the Journal of the General Assembly of the Colony of New York refers to a conference held in the "New Coffee House." About this date the business section of the city had begun to drift eastward from Broadway to the waterfront; and from this[Pg 118] fact it is assumed that the name "New Coffee House" indicates that the King's Arms had been removed from its original location near Cedar Street, or that it may have lost favor and have been superseded in popularity by a newer coffee house. The Journal does not give the location of the "New" coffee house. Whatever the case may be, the name of the King's Arms does not again appear in the records until 1763, and then it had more the character of a tavern, or roadhouse.

The public records from 1709 up to 1729 are silent in regard to coffee houses in New York. In 1725 the pioneer newspaper in the city, the New York Gazette, came into existence; and four years later, 1729, there appeared in it an advertisement stating that "a competent bookkeeper may be heard of" at the "Coffee House." In 1730 another advertisement in the same journal tells of a sale of land by public vendue (auction) to be held at the Exchange coffee house.

The Exchange Coffee House

By reason of its name, the Exchange Coffee House is thought to have been located at the foot of Broad Street, abutting the sea-wall and near the Long Bridge of that day. At that time this section was the business center of the city, and here was a trading exchange.

That the Exchange coffee house was the only one of its kind in New York in 1732 is inferred from the announcement in that year of a meeting of the conference committee of the Council and Assembly "at the Coffee House." In seeming confirmation of this conclusion, is the advertisement in 1733 in the New York Gazette requesting the return of "lost sleeve buttons to Mr. Todd, next door to the Coffee House." The records of the day show that a Robert Todd kept the famous Black Horse tavern which was located in this part of the city.

Again we hear of the Exchange coffee house in 1737, and apparently in the same location, where it is mentioned in an account of the "Negro plot" as being next door to the Fighting Cocks tavern by the Long Bridge, at the foot of Broad Street. Also in this same year it is named as the place of public vendue of land situated on Broadway.

By this time the Exchange coffee house had virtually become the city's official auction room, as well as the place to buy and to drink coffee. Commodities of many kinds were also bought and sold there, both within the house and on the sidewalk before it.

The Merchants Coffee House

In the year 1750, the Exchange coffee house had begun to lose its long-held prestige, and its name was changed to the Gentlemen's Exchange coffee house and tavern. A year later it had migrated to Broadway under the name of the Gentlemens' coffee house and tavern. In 1753 it was moved again, to Hunter's Quay, which was situated on what is now Front Street, somewhere between the present Old Slip and Wall Street. The famous old coffee house seems to have gone out of existence about this time, its passing hastened, no doubt, by the newer enterprise, the Merchants coffee house, which was to become the most celebrated in New York, and, according to some writers, the most historic in America.

It is not certain just when the Merchants coffee house was first opened. As near as can be determined, Daniel Bloom, a mariner, in 1737 bought the Jamaica Pilot Boat tavern from John Dunks and named it the Merchants coffee house. The building was situated on the northwest corner of the present Wall Street and Water (then Queen) Street; and Bloom was its landlord until his death, soon after the year 1750. He was succeeded by Captain James Ackland, who shortly sold it to Luke Roome. The latter disposed of the building in 1758 to Dr. Charles Arding. The doctor leased it to Mrs. Mary Ferrari, who continued as its proprietor until she moved, in 1772, to the newer building diagonally across the street, built by William Brownejohn, on the southeast corner of Wall and Water Streets. Mrs. Ferrari took with her the patronage and the name of the Merchants coffee house, and the old building was not used again as a coffee house.

The building housing the original Merchants coffee house was a two-story structure, with a balcony on the roof, which was typical of the middle eighteenth century architecture in New York. On the first floor were the coffee bar and booths described in connection with the King's Arms coffee house. The second floor had the typical long room for public assembly.

During Bloom's proprietorship the Merchants coffee house had a long, hard struggle[Pg 119] to win the patronage away from the Exchange coffee house, which was flourishing at that time. But, being located near the Meal Market, where the merchants were wont to gather for trading purposes, it gradually became the meeting place of the city, at the expense of the Exchange coffee house, farther down the waterfront.

Merchants Coffee House (at the Right) as It Appeared from 1772 to 1804 Merchants Coffee House (at the Right) as It Appeared from 1772 to 1804

The original coffee house of this name was opened on the northwest corner of Wall and Water Streets about 1737, the business being moved to the southeast corner in 1772

Widow Ferrari presided over the original Merchants coffee house for fourteen years, until she moved across the street. She was a keen business woman. Just before she was ready to open the new coffee house she announced to her old patrons that she would give a house-warming, at which arrack, punch, wine, cold ham, tongue, and other delicacies of the day would be served. The event was duly noted in the newspapers, one stating that "the agreeable situation and the elegance of the new house had occasioned a great resort of company to it."

Mrs. Ferrari continued in charge until May 1, 1776, when Cornelius Bradford became proprietor and sought to build up the patronage, that had dwindled somewhat during the stirring days immediately preceding the Revolution. In his announcement of the change of ownership, he said, "Interesting intelligence will be carefully collected and the greatest attention will be given to the arrival of vessels, when trade and navigation shall resume their former channels." He referred to the complete embargo of trade to Europe which the colonists were enduring. When the American troops withdrew from the city during the Revolution, Bradford went also, to Rhinebeck on the Hudson.

During the British occupation, the Merchants coffee house was a place of great activity. As before, it was the center of trading, and under the British régime it became also the place where the prize ships were sold. The Chamber of Commerce resumed its sessions in the upper long room in 1779, having been suspended since 1775. The Chamber paid fifty pounds rent per annum for the use of the room to Mrs. Smith, the landlady at the time.

In 1781 John Stachan, then proprietor of the Queen's Head tavern, became landlord of the Merchants coffee house, and he promised in a public announcement "to pay attention not only as a Coffee House, but as a tavern, in the truest; and to distinguish the same as the City Tavern and Coffee House, with constant and best attendance. Breakfast from seven to eleven; soups and relishes from eleven to half-past[Pg 120] one. Tea, coffee, etc., in the afternoon, as in England." But when he began charging sixpence for receiving and dispatching letters by man-o'-war to England, he brought a storm about his ears, and was forced to give up the practise. He continued in charge until peace came, and Cornelius Bradford came with it to resume proprietorship of the coffee house.

Bradford changed the name to the New York coffee house, but the public continued to call it by its original name, and the landlord soon gave in. He kept a marine list, giving the names of vessels arriving and departing, recording their ports of sailing. He also opened a register of returning citizens, "where any gentleman now resident in the city," his advertisement stated, "may insert their names and place of residence." This seems to have been the first attempt at a city directory. By his energy Bradford soon made the Merchants coffee house again the business center of the city. When he died, in 1786, he was mourned as one of the leading citizens. His funeral was held at the coffee house over which he had presided so well.

The Merchants coffee house continued to be the principal public gathering place until it was destroyed by fire in 1804. During its existence it had figured prominently in many of the local and national historic events, too numerous to record here in detail.

Some of the famous events were: The reading of the order to the citizens, in 1765, warning them to stop rioting against the Stamp Act; the debates on the subject of not accepting consignments of goods from Great Britain; the demonstration by the Sons of Liberty, sometimes called the "Liberty Boys," made before Captain Lockyer of the tea ship Nancy which had been turned away from Boston and sought to land its cargo in New York in 1774; the general meeting of citizens on May 19, 1774, to discuss a means of communicating with the Massachusetts colony to obtain co-ordinated effort in resisting England's oppression, out of which came the letter suggesting a congress of deputies from the colonies and calling for a "virtuous and spirited Union;" the mass meeting of citizens in the days immediately following the battles at Concord and Lexington in Massachusetts; and the forming of the Committee of One Hundred to administer the public business, making the Merchants coffee house virtually the seat of government.

When the American Army held the city in 1776, the coffee house became the resort of army and navy officers. Its culminating glory came on April 23, 1789, when Washington, the recently elected first president of the United States, was officially greeted at the coffee house by the governor of the State, the mayor of the city, and the lesser municipal officers.

As a meeting place for societies and lodges the Merchants coffee house was long distinguished. In addition to the purely commercial organizations that gathered in its long room, these bodies regularly met there in their early days: The Society of Arts, Agriculture and Economy; Knights of Corsica; New York Committee of Correspondence; New York Marine Society; Chamber of Commerce of the State of New York; Lodge 169, Free and Accepted Masons; Whig Society; Society of the New York Hospital; St. Andrew's Society; Society of the Cincinnati; Society of the Sons of St. Patrick; Society for Promoting the Manumission of Slaves; Society for the Relief of Distressed Debtors; Black Friars Society; Independent Rangers; and Federal Republicans.

Here also came the men who, in 1784, formed the Bank of New York, the first financial institution in the city; and here was held, in 1790, the first public sale of stocks by sworn brokers. Here, too, was held the organization meeting of subscribers to the Tontine coffee house, which in a few years was to prove a worthy rival.

Some Lesser Known Coffee Houses

Before taking up the story of the famous Tontine coffee house it should be noted that the Merchants coffee house had some prior measure of competition. For four years the Exchange coffee room sought to cater to the wants of the merchants around the foot of Broad Street. It was located in the Royal Exchange, which had been erected in 1752 in place of the old Exchange, and until 1754 had been used as a store. Then William Keen and Alexander Lightfoot got control and started their coffee room, with a ball room attached. The partnership split up in 1756, Lightfoot continuing operations until he died the next year, when his widow tried to[Pg 121] carry it on. In 1758 it had reverted into its original character of a mercantile establishment.

The Tontine Coffee House (Second Building at the Left), Opened in 1792 The Tontine Coffee House (Second Building at the Left), Opened in 1792

This is the original structure, northwest corner of Wall and Water Streets, which was succeeded about 1850 by a five-story building (see page 122) that in turn was replaced by a modern office building

Then there was the Whitehall coffee house, which two men, named Rogers and Humphreys, opened in 1762, with the announcement that "a correspondence is settled in London and Bristol to remit by every opportunity all the public prints and pamphlets as soon as published; and there will be a weekly supply of New York, Boston and other American newspapers." This enterprise had a short life.

The early records of the city infrequently mention the Burns coffee house, sometimes calling it a tavern. It is likely that the place was more an inn than a coffee house. It was kept for a number of years by George Burns, near the Battery, and was located in the historic old De Lancey house, which afterward became the City hotel.

Burns remained the proprietor until 1762, when it was taken over by a Mrs. Steele, who gave it the name of the King's Arms. Edward Barden became the landlord in 1768. In later years it became known as the Atlantic Garden house. Traitor Benedict Arnold is said to have lodged in the old tavern after deserting to the enemy.

The Bank coffee house belonged to a later generation, and had few of the characteristics of the earlier coffee houses. It was opened in 1814 by William Niblo, of Niblo's Garden fame, and stood at the corner of William and Pine Streets, at the rear of the Bank of New York. The coffee house endured for probably ten years, and became the gathering place of a coterie of prominent merchants, who formed a sort of club. The Bank coffee house became celebrated for its dinners and dinner parties.

Fraunces' tavern, best known as the place where Washington bade farewell to his army officers, was, as its name states, a tavern, and can not be properly classed as a coffee house. While coffee was served, and there was a long room for gatherings, little, if any, business was done there by merchants. It was largely a meeting place for citizens bent on a "good time."

Then there was the New England and Quebec coffee house, which was also a tavern.

[Pg 122]

The Tontine Building of 1850 The Tontine Building of 1850

Northwest corner of Wall and Water Streets; an omnibus of the Broadway-Wall-Street Ferry line is passing

The Tontine Coffee House

The last of the celebrated coffee houses of New York bore the name, Tontine coffee house. For several years after the burning of the Merchants coffee house, in 1804, it was the only one of note in the city.

Feeling that they should have a more commodious coffee house for carrying on their various business enterprises, some 150 merchants organized, in 1791, the Tontine coffee house. This enterprise was based on the plan introduced into France in 1653 by Lorenzo Tonti, with slight variations. According to the New York Tontine plan, each holder's share reverted automatically to the surviving shareholders in the association, instead of to his heirs. There were 157 original shareholders, and 203 shares of stock valued at £200 each.

Niblo's Garden, Broadway and Prince Street, 1828 Niblo's Garden, Broadway and Prince Street, 1828

The directors bought the house and lot on the northwest corner of Wall and Water Streets, where the original Merchants coffee house stood, paying £1,970. They next acquired the adjoining lots on Wall and Water Streets, paying £2,510 for the former, and £1,000 for the latter.

The cornerstone of the new coffee house was laid June 5, 1792; and a year later to the day, 120 gentlemen sat down to a banquet in the completed coffee house to celebrate the event of the year before. John Hyde was the first landlord. The house had cost $43,000.

Coffee Relics of Dutch New York Coffee Relics of Dutch New York

Spice-grinder boat, coffee roaster, and coffee pots at the Van Cortlandt Museum

A contemporary account of how the Tontine coffee house looked in 1794 is supplied by an Englishman visiting New York at the time:

The Tontine tavern and coffee house is a handsome large brick building; you ascend six or eight steps under a portico, into a large public room, which is the Stock Exchange of New York, where all bargains are made. Here are two books kept, as at Lloyd's [in London] of every ship's arrival and clearance. This house was built for the accommodation of the merchants by Tontine shares of two hundred pounds each. It is kept by Mr. Hyde, formerly a woolen[Pg 123] draper in London. You can lodge and board there at a common table, and you pay ten shillings currency a day, whether you dine out or not.

New York's Vauxhall Garden of 1803 New York's Vauxhall Garden of 1803

From an old print

The stock market made its headquarters in the Tontine coffee house in 1817, and the early organization was elaborated and became the New York Stock and Exchange Board. It was removed in 1827 to the Merchants Exchange Building, where it remained until that place was destroyed by fire in 1835.

It was stipulated in the original articles of the Tontine Association that the house was to be kept and used as a coffee house, and this agreement was adhered to up to the year 1834, when, by permission of the Court of Chancery, the premises were let for general business-office purposes. This change was due to the competition offered by the Merchants Exchange, a short distance up Wall Street, which had been opened soon after the completion of the Tontine coffee house building.

As the city grew, the business-office quarters of the original Tontine coffee house became inadequate; and about the year 1850 a new five-story building, costing some $60,000, succeeded it. By this time the building had lost its old coffee-house characteristics. This new Tontine structure is said to have been the first real office building in New York City. Today the site is occupied by a large modern office building, which still retains the name of Tontine. It was owned by John B. and Charles A. O'Donohue, well known New York coffee merchants, until 1920, when it was sold for $1,000,000 to the Federal Sugar Refining Company.

The Tontine coffee house did not figure so prominently in the historic events of the nation and city as did its neighbor, the Merchants coffee house. However, it became the Mecca for visitors from all parts of the country, who did not consider their sojourn in the city complete until they had at least inspected what was then one of the most pretentious buildings in New York. Chroniclers of the Tontine coffee house always say that most of the leaders of the nation, together with distinguished visitors from abroad, had foregathered in the large room of the old coffee house at some time during their careers.

It was on the walls of the Tontine coffee house that bulletins were posted on Hamilton's struggle for life after the fatal duel forced on him by Aaron Burr.

The changing of the Tontine coffee house into a purely mercantile building marked the end of the coffee-house era in New[Pg 124] York. Exchanges and office buildings had come into existence to take the place of the business features of the coffee houses; clubs were organized to take care of the social functions; and restaurants and hotels had sprung up to cater to the needs for beverages and food.

New York's Pleasure Gardens

There was a fairly successful attempt made to introduce the London pleasure-garden idea into New York. First, tea gardens were added to several of the taverns already provided with ball rooms. Then, on the outskirts of the city, were opened the Vauxhall and the Ranelagh gardens, so named after their famous London prototypes. The first Vauxhall garden (there were three of this name) was on Greenwich Street, between Warren and Chambers Streets. It fronted on the North River, affording a beautiful view up the Hudson. Starting as the Bowling Green garden, it changed to Vauxhall in 1750.

Ranelagh was on Broadway, between Duane and Worth Streets, on the site where later the New York Hospital was erected. From advertisements of the period (1765–69) we learn that there were band concerts twice a week at the Ranelagh. The gardens were "for breakfasting as well as the evening entertainment of ladies and gentlemen." There was a commodious hall in the garden for dancing. Ranelagh lasted twenty years. Coffee, tea, and hot rolls could be had in the pleasure gardens at any hour of the day. Fireworks were featured at both Ranelagh and Vauxhall gardens. The second Vauxhall was near the intersection of the present Mulberry and Grand Streets, in 1798; the third was on Bowery Road, near Astor Place, in 1803. The Astor library was built upon its site in 1853.

William Niblo, previously proprietor of the Bank coffee house in Pine Street, opened, in 1828, a pleasure garden, that he named Sans Souci, on the site of a circus building called the Stadium at Broadway and Prince Street. In the center of the garden remained the stadium, which was devoted to theatrical performances of "a gay and attractive character." Later, he built a more pretentious theater that fronted on Broadway. The interior of the garden was "spacious, and adorned with shrubbery and walks, lighted with festoons of lamps." It was generally known as Niblo's garden.

Among other well known pleasure gardens of old New York were Contoit's, later the New York garden, and Cherry gardens, on old Cherry Hill.

Tavern and Grocers' Signs Used in Old New York Tavern and Grocers' Signs Used in Old New York

Left, Smith Richards, grocer and confectioner, "at the sign of the tea canister and two sugar loaves" (1773); center, the King's Arms, originally Burns coffee house (1767); right, George Webster, Grocer, "at the sign of the three sugar loaves"

[Pg 125]

Chapter XIV


Ye Coffee House, Philadelphia's first coffee house, opened about 1700—The two London coffee houses—The City tavern, or Merchants coffee house—How these, and other celebrated resorts, dominated the social, political, and business life of the Quaker City in the eighteenth century

William Penn is generally credited with the introduction of coffee into the Quaker colony which he founded on the Delaware in 1682. He also brought to the "city of brotherly love" that other great drink of human brotherhood, tea. At first (1700), "like tea, coffee was only a drink for the well-to-do, except in sips."[93] As was the case in the other English colonies, coffee languished for a time while tea rose in favor, more especially in the home.

Following the stamp act of 1765, and the tea tax of 1767, the Pennsylvania Colony joined hands with the others in a general tea boycott; and coffee received the same impetus as elsewhere in the colonies that became the thirteen original states.

The coffee houses of early Philadelphia loom large in the history of the city and the republic. Picturesque in themselves, with their distinctive colonial architecture, their associations also were romantic. Many a civic, sociological, and industrial reform came into existence in the low-ceilinged, sanded-floor main rooms of the city's early coffee houses.

For many years, Ye coffee house, the two London coffee houses, and the City tavern (also known as the Merchants coffee house) each in its turn dominated the official and social life of Philadelphia. The earlier houses were the regular meeting places of Quaker municipal officers, ship captains, and merchants who came to transact public and private business. As the outbreak of the Revolution drew near, fiery colonials, many in Quaker garb, congregated there to argue against British oppression of the colonies. After the Revolution, the leading citizens resorted to the coffee house to dine and sup and to hold their social functions.

When the city was founded in 1682, coffee cost too much to admit of its being retailed to the general public at coffee houses. William Penn wrote in his Accounts that in 1683 coffee in the berry was sometimes procured in New York at a cost of eighteen shillings nine pence the pound, equal to about $4.68. He told also that meals were served in the ordinaries at six pence (equal to twelve cents), to wit: "We have seven ordinaries for the entertainment of strangers and for workmen that are not housekeepers, and a good meal is to be had there for six pence sterling." With green coffee costing $4.68 a pound, making the price of a cup about seventeen cents, it is not likely that coffee was on the menus of the ordinaries serving meals at twelve cents each. Ale was the common meal-time beverage.

There were four classes of public houses—inns, taverns, ordinaries, and coffee houses. The inn was a modest hotel that supplied lodgings, food, and drink, the beverages consisting mostly of ale, port, Jamaica rum, and Madeira wine. The tavern,[Pg 126] though accommodating guests with bed and board, was more of a drinking place than a lodging house. The ordinary combined the characteristics of a restaurant and a boarding house. The coffee house was a pretentious tavern, dispensing, in most cases, intoxicating drinks as well as coffee.

Philadelphia's First Coffee House

The first house of public resort opened in Philadelphia bore the name of the Blue Anchor tavern, and was probably established in 1683 or 1684; colonial records do not state definitely. As its name indicates, this was a tavern. The first coffee house came into existence about the year 1700. Watson, in one place in his Annals of the city, says 1700, but in another 1702. The earlier date is thought to be correct, and is seemingly substantiated by the co-authors Scharf and Westcott in their History of the city, in which they say, "The first public house designated as a coffee house was built in Penn's time [1682–1701] by Samuel Carpenter, on the east side of Front Street, probably above Walnut Street. That it was the first of its kind—the only one in fact for some years—seems to be established beyond doubt. It was always referred to in old times as 'Ye Coffee House.'"

Carpenter owned also the Globe inn, which was separated from Ye coffee house by a public stairway running down from Front Street to Water Street, and, it is supposed, to Carpenter's Wharf. The exact location of the old house was recently established from the title to the original patentee, Samuel Carpenter, by a Philadelphia real-estate title-guarantee company, as being between Walnut and Chestnut Streets, and occupying six and a half feet of what is now No. 137 South Front Street and the whole of No. 139.

How long Ye coffee house endured is uncertain. It was last mentioned in colonial records in a real estate conveyance from Carpenter to Samuel Finney, dated April 26, 1703. In that document it is described as "That brick Messuage, or Tenement, called Ye Coffee House, in the possession of Henry Flower, and situate, lying and being upon or before the bank of the Delaware River, containing in length about thirty feet and in breadth about twenty-four."

The Henry Flower mentioned as the proprietor of Philadelphia's first coffee house, was postmaster of the province for a number of years, and it is believed that Ye coffee house also did duty as the post-office for a time. Benjamin Franklin's Pennsylvania Gazette, in an issue published in 1734, has this advertisement:

All persons who are indebted to Henry Flower, late postmaster of Pennsylvania, for Postage of Letters or otherwise, are desir'd to pay the same to him at the old Coffee House in Philadelphia.

Flower's advertisement would indicate that Ye coffee house, then venerable enough to be designated as old, was still in existence, and that Flower was to be found there. Franklin also seems to have been in the coffee business, for in several issues of the Gazette around the year 1740 he advertised: "Very good coffee sold by the Printer."

The First London Coffee House

Philadelphia's second coffee house bore the name of the London coffee house, which title was later used for the resort William Bradford opened in 1754. The first house of this name was built in 1702, but there seems to be some doubt about its location. Writing in the American Historical Register, Charles H. Browning says: "William Rodney came to Philadelphia with Penn in 1682, and resided in Kent County, where he died in 1708; he built the old London coffee house at Front and Market Streets in 1702." Another chronicler gives its location as "above Walnut Street, either on the east side of Water Street, or on Delaware Avenue, or, as the streets are very close together, it may have been on both. John Shewbert, its proprietor, was a parishioner of Christ Church, and his establishment was largely patronized by Church of England people." It was also the gathering place of the followers of Penn and the Proprietary party, while their opponents, the political cohorts of Colonel Quarry, frequented Ye coffee house.

The first London coffee house resembled a fashionable club house in its later years, suitable for the "genteel" entertainments of the well-to-do Philadelphians. Ye coffee house was more of a commercial or public exchange. Evidence of the gentility of the London is given by John William Wallace:

The appointments of the London Coffee House, if we may infer what they were from the will of Mrs. Shubert [Shewbert] dated November 27, 1751, were genteel. By that instrument she[Pg 127] makes bequest of two silver quart tankards; a silver cup; a silver porringer; a silver pepper pot; two sets of silver castors; a silver soup spoon; a silver sauce spoon, and numerous silver tablespoons and tea spoons, with a silver tea-pot.

The Second London Coffee House, Opened in 1754 by William Bradford, the Printer The Second London Coffee House, Opened in 1754 by William Bradford, the Printer

Up to the outbreak of the American Revolution, it was more frequented than any other tavern in the Quaker city as a place of resort and entertainment, and was famous throughout the colonies

One of the many historic incidents connected with this old house was the visit there by William Penn's eldest son, John, in 1733, when he entertained the General Assembly of the province on one day and on the next feasted the City Corporation.

Roberts' Coffee House

Another house with some fame in the middle of the eighteenth century was Roberts' coffee house, which stood in Front Street near the first London house. Though its opening date is unknown, it is believed to have come into existence about 1740. In 1744 a British army officer recruiting troops for service in Jamaica advertised in the newspaper of the day that he could be seen at the Widow Roberts' coffee house. During the French and Indian War, when Philadelphia was in grave danger of attack by French and Spanish privateers, the citizens felt so great relief when the British ship Otter came to the rescue, that they proposed a public banquet in honor of the Otter's captain to be held at Roberts' coffee house. For some unrecorded reason the entertainment was not given; probably because the house was too small to accommodate all the citizens desiring to attend. Widow Roberts retired in 1754.

The James Coffee House

Contemporary with Roberts' coffee house was the resort run first by Widow James, and later by her son, James James. It was established in 1744, and occupied a large wooden building on the northwest corner of Front and Walnut Streets. It was patronized by Governor Thomas and many of his political followers, and its name frequently appeared in the news and advertising columns of the Pennsylvania Gazette.

The Second London Coffee House

Probably the most celebrated coffee house in Penn's city was the one established by William Bradford, printer of the Pennsylvania Journal. It was on the southwest corner of Second and Market Streets, and was named the London coffee house, the second house in Philadelphia to bear that title. The building had stood since 1702, when Charles Reed, later mayor of the city, put it up on land which he bought[Pg 128] from Letitia Penn, daughter of William Penn, the founder. Bradford was the first to use the structure for coffee-house purposes, and he tells his reason for entering upon the business in his petition to the governor for a license: "Having been advised to keep a Coffee House for the benefit of merchants and traders, and as some people may at times be desirous to be furnished with other liquors besides coffee, your petitioner apprehends it is necessary to have the Governor's license." This would indicate that in that day coffee was drunk as a refreshment between meals, as were spirituous liquors for so many years before, and thereafter up to 1920.

Selling Slaves at the Old London Coffee House Selling Slaves at the Old London Coffee House

Bradford's London coffee house seems to have been a joint-stock enterprise, for in his Journal of April 11, 1754, appeared this notice: "Subscribers to a public coffee house are invited to meet at the Courthouse on Friday, the 19th instant, at 3 o'clock, to choose trustees agreeably to the plan of subscription."

The building was a three-story wooden structure, with an attic that some historians count as the fourth story. There was a wooden awning one-story high extending out to cover the sidewalk before the coffee house. The entrance was on Market (then known as High) Street.

The London coffee house was "the pulsating heart of excitement, enterprise, and patriotism" of the early city. The most active citizens congregated there—merchants, shipmasters, travelers from other colonies and countries, crown and provincial officers. The governor and persons of equal note went there at certain hours "to sip their coffee from the hissing urn, and some of those stately visitors had their own stalls." It had also the character of a mercantile exchange—carriages, horses, foodstuffs, and the like being sold there at auction. It is further related that the early slave-holding Philadelphians sold negro men, women, and children at vendue, exhibiting the slaves on a platform set up in the street before the coffee house.

The resort was the barometer of public sentiment. It was in the street before this house that a newspaper published in Barbados, bearing a stamp in accordance with the provisions of the stamp act, was publicly burned in 1765, amid the cheers of bystanders. It was here that Captain Wise of the brig Minerva, from Pool, England, who brought news of the repeal of the act, was enthusiastically greeted by the crowd in May, 1766. Here, too, for several years the fishermen set up May poles.

Bradford gave up the coffee house when he joined the newly formed Revolutionary army as major, later becoming a colonel. When the British entered the city in September, 1777, the officers resorted to the London coffee house, which was much frequented by Tory sympathizers. After the British had evacuated the city, Colonel Bradford resumed proprietorship; but he found a change in the public's attitude toward the old resort, and thereafter its fortunes began to decline, probably hastened by the keen competition offered by the City tavern, which had been opened a few years before.

Bradford gave up the lease in 1780, transferring the property to John Pemberton, who leased it to Gifford Dally. Pemberton was a Friend, and his scruples about gambling and other sins are well exhibited in the terms of the lease in which said Dally "covenants and agrees and promises that he will exert his endeavors as a Christian to preserve decency and order in said house, and to discourage the profanation of the sacred name of God Almighty by cursing, swearing, etc., and that the house[Pg 129] on the first day of the week shall always be kept closed from public use." It is further covenanted that "under a penalty of £100 he will not allow or suffer any person to use, or play at, or divert themselves with cards, dice, backgammon, or any other unlawful game."

The City Tavern, Built in 1773, and Known as the Merchants Coffee House The City Tavern, Built in 1773, and Known as the Merchants Coffee House

The tavern (at the left) was regarded as the largest inn of the colonies and stood next to the Bank of Pennsylvania (center). From a print made from a rare Birch engraving

It would seem from the terms of the lease that what Pemberton thought were ungodly things, were countenanced in other coffee houses of the day. Perhaps the regulations were too strict; for a few years later the house had passed into the hands of John Stokes, who used it as dwelling and a store.

City Tavern or Merchants Coffee House

The last of the celebrated coffee houses in Philadelphia was built in 1773 under the name of the City tavern, which later became known as the Merchants coffee house, possibly after the house of the same name that was then famous in New York. It stood in Second Street near Walnut Street, and in some respects was even more noted than Bradford's London coffee house, with which it had to compete in its early days.

The City tavern was patterned after the best London coffee houses; and when opened, it was looked upon as the finest and largest of its kind in America. It was three stories high, built of brick, and had several large club rooms, two of which were connected by a wide doorway that, when open, made a large dining room fifty feet long.

Daniel Smith was the first proprietor, and he opened it to the public early in 1774. Before the Revolution, Smith had a hard struggle trying to win patronage from Bradford's London coffee house, standing only a few blocks away. But during and after the war, the City tavern gradually took the lead, and for more than a quarter of a century was the principal gathering place of the city. At first, the house had various names in the public mind, some calling it by its proper title, the City tavern, others attaching the name of the proprietor and designating it as Smith's tavern, while still others used the title, the New tavern.

The gentlefolk of the city resorted to the City tavern after the Revolution as they had to Bradford's coffee house before. However, before reaching this high estate, it once was near destruction at the hands of the Tories, who threatened to tear it[Pg 130] down. That was when it was proposed to hold a banquet there in honor of Mrs. George Washington, who had stopped in the city in 1776 while on the way to meet her distinguished husband, then at Cambridge in Massachusetts, taking over command of the American army. Trouble was averted by Mrs. Washington tactfully declining to appear at the tavern.

After peace came, the house was the scene of many of the fashionable entertainments of the period. Here met the City Dancing Assembly, and here was held the brilliant fête given by M. Gerard, first accredited representative from France to the United States, in honor of Louis XVI's birthday. Washington, Jefferson, Hamilton, and other leaders of public thought were more or less frequent visitors when in Philadelphia.

The exact date when the City tavern became the Merchants coffee house is unknown. When James Kitchen became proprietor, at the beginning of the nineteenth century, it was so called. In 1806 Kitchen turned the house into a bourse, or mercantile exchange. By that time clubs and hotels had come into fashion, and the coffee-house idea was losing caste with the élite of the city.

In the year 1806 William Renshaw planned to open the Exchange coffee house in the Bingham mansion on Third Street. He even solicited subscriptions to the enterprise, saying that he proposed to keep a marine diary and a registry of vessels for sale, to receive and to forward ships' letter bags, and to have accommodations for holding auctions. But he was persuaded from the idea, partly by the fact that the Merchants coffee house seemed to be satisfactorily filling that particular niche in the city life, and partly because the hotel business offered better inducements. He abandoned the plan, and opened the Mansion House hotel in the Bingham residence in 1807.

Exchange Coffee House Scene in "Hamilton" Exchange Coffee House Scene in "Hamilton"

In this setting for the first act of the play by Mary P. Hamlin and George Arliss, produced in 1918, the scenic artist aimed to give a true historical background, and combined the features of several inns and coffee houses in Philadelphia, Virginia, and New England as they existed in Washington's first administration

[Pg 131]

Chapter XV


Its complete classification by class, sub-class, order, family, genus, and species—How the Coffea arabica grows, flowers, and bears—Other species and hybrids described—Natural caffein-free coffee—Fungoid diseases of coffee

The coffee tree, scientifically known as Coffea arabica, is native to Abyssinia and Ethiopia, but grows well in Java, Sumatra, and other islands of the Dutch East Indies; in India, Arabia, equatorial Africa, the islands of the Pacific, in Mexico, Central and South America, and the West Indies. The plant belongs to the large sub-kingdom of plants known scientifically as the Angiosperms, or Angiospermæ, which means that the plant reproduces by seeds which are enclosed in a box-like compartment, known as the ovary, at the base of the flower. The word Angiosperm is derived from two Greek words, sperma, a seed, and aggeion, pronounced angeion, a box, the box referred to being the ovary.

This large sub-kingdom is subdivided into two classes. The basis for this division is the number of leaves in the little plant which develops from the seed. The coffee plant, as it develops from the seed, has two little leaves, and therefore belongs to the class Dicotyledoneæ. This word dicotyledoneæ is made up of the two Greek words, di(s), two, and kotyledon, cavity or socket. It is not necessary to see the young plant that develops from the seed in order to know that it had two seed leaves; because the mature plant always shows certain characteristics that accompany this condition of the seed.

In every plant having two seed leaves, the mature leaves are netted-veined, which is a condition easily recognized even by the layman; also the parts of the flowers are in circles containing two or five parts, but never in threes or sixes. The stems of plants of this class always increase in thickness by means of a layer of cells known as a cambium, which is a tissue that continues to divide throughout its whole existence. The fact that this cambium divides as long as it lives, gives rise to a peculiar appearance in woody stems by which we can, on looking at the stem of a tree of this type when it has been sawed across, tell the age of the tree.

In the spring the cambium produces large open cells through which large quantities of sap can run; in the fall it produces very thick-walled cells, as there is not so much sap to be carried. Because these thin-walled open cells of one spring are next to the thick-walled cells of the last autumn, it is very easy to distinguish one year's growth from the next; the marks so produced are called annual rings.

We have now classified coffee as far as the class; and so far we could go if we had only the leaves and stem of the coffee plant. In order to proceed farther, we must have the flowers of the plant, as botanical classification goes from this point on the basis of the flowers. The class Dicotyledoneæ is separated into sub-classes according to whether the flower's corolla (the showy part of the flower which ordinarily gives it its color) is all in one piece, or is divided into a number of parts. The coffee flower is arranged with its corolla all in one piece, forming a tube-shaped arrangement, and accordingly the coffee plant[Pg 132] belongs to the sub-class Sympetalæ, or Metachlamydeæ, which means that its petals are united.

The Coffee Tree, Showing Details of Flowers and Fruit The Coffee Tree, Showing Details of Flowers and Fruit

From a drawing by Ch. Emonts in Jardin's Le Caféier et Le Café

The next step in classification is to place the plant in the proper division under the sub-class, which is the order. Plants are separated into orders according to their varied characteristics. The coffee plant belongs to an order known as Rubiales. These orders are again divided into families. Coffee is placed in the family Rubiaceæ, or Madder Family, in which we find herbs, shrubs or trees, represented by a few American plants, such as bluets, or Quaker ladies, small blue spring flowers, common to open meadows in northern United States; and partridge berries (Mitchella repens).

The Madder Family has more foreign representatives than native genera, among which are Coffea, Cinchona, and Ipecacuanha (Uragoga), all of which are of economic importance. The members of this family are noted for their action on the nervous system. Coffee, as is well known, contains an active principle known as caffein which acts as a stimulant to the nervous system and in small quantities is very beneficial. Cinchona supplies us with quinine, while Ipecacuanha produces ipecac, which is an emetic and purgative.

The families are divided into smaller sections known as genera, and to the genus Coffea belongs the coffee plant. Under this genus Coffea are several sub-genera, and to the sub-genus Eucoffea belongs our common coffee, Coffea arabica. Coffea arabica is the original or common Java coffee of commerce. The term "common" coffee may seem unnecessary, but there are many other species of coffee besides arabica. These species have not been described very frequently; because their native haunts are the tropics, and the tropics do not always offer favorable conditions for the study of their plants.

All botanists do not agree in their classification of the species and varieties of the coffea genus. M.E. de Wildman, curator of the royal botanical gardens at Brussels, in his Les Plantes Tropicales de Grande Culture, says the systematic division of this interesting genus is far from finished; in fact, it may be said hardly to be begun.

Coffea arabica we know best because of the important rôle it plays in commerce.

Complete Classification of Coffee
Kingdom Vegetable
Sub-Kingdom Angiospermæ
Class Dicotyledoneæ
Sub-class Sympetalæ or Metachlamydeæ
Order Rubiales
Family Rubiaceæ
Genus Coffea
Sub-genus Eucoffea
Species C. arabica

[Pg 133]

The coffee plant most cultivated for its berries is, as already stated, Coffea arabica, which is found in tropical regions, although it can grow in temperate climates. Unlike most plants that grow best in the tropics, it can stand low temperatures. It requires shade when it grows in hot, low-lying districts; but when it grows on elevated land, it thrives without such protection. Freeman[94] says there are about eight recognized species of coffea.

Details of the Germination of the Coffee Plant Details of the Germination of the Coffee Plant

From a drawing by Ch. Emonts in Jardin's Le Caféier et Le Café

Coffea Arabica

Coffea arabica is a shrub with evergreen leaves, and reaches a height of fourteen to twenty feet when fully grown. The shrub produces dimorphic branches, i.e., branches of two forms, known as uprights and laterals. When young, the plants have a main stem, the upright, which, however, eventually sends out side shoots, the laterals. The laterals may send out other laterals, known as secondary laterals; but no lateral can ever produce an upright. The laterals are produced in pairs and are opposite, the pairs being borne in whorls around the stem. The laterals are produced only while the joint of the upright, to which they are attached, is young; and if they are broken off at that point, the upright has no power to reproduce them. The upright can produce new uprights also; but if an upright is cut off, the laterals at that position tend to thicken up. This is very desirable, as the laterals produce the flowers, which seldom appear on the uprights. This fact is utilized in pruning the coffee tree, the uprights being cut back, the laterals then becoming more productive. Planters generally keep their trees pruned down to about six feet.

The leaves are lanceolate, or lance-shaped, being borne in pairs opposite each other. They are three to six inches in length, with an acuminate apex, somewhat attenuate at the base, with very short petioles which are united with the short interpetiolar stipules at the base. The coffee leaves are thin, but of firm texture, slightly coriaceous. They are very dark green on the upper surface, but much lighter underneath. The margin of the leaf is entire and wavy. In some tropical countries the natives brew a coffee tea from the leaves of the coffee tree.

[Pg 134]


[Pg 135]

The coffee flowers are small, white, and very fragrant, having a delicate characteristic odor. They are borne in the axils of the leaves in clusters, and several crops are produced in one season, depending on the conditions of heat and moisture that prevail in the particular season. The different blossomings are classed as main blossoming and smaller blossomings. In semi-dry high districts, as in Costa Rica or Guatemala, there is one blossoming season, about March, and flowers and fruit are not found together, as a rule, on the trees. But in lowland plantations where rain is perennial, blooming and fruiting continue practically all the year; and ripe fruits, green fruits, open flowers, and flower buds are to be found at the same time on the same branchlet, not mixed together, but in the order indicated.

Coffea Arabica—Porto Rico Coffea Arabica—Porto Rico

The flowers are also tubular, the tube of the corolla dividing into five white segments. Dr. P.J.S. Cramer, chief of the division of plant breeding, Department of Agriculture, Netherlands India, says the number of petals is not at all constant, not even for flowers of the same tree. The corolla segments are about one-half inch in length, while the tube itself is about three-eighths of an inch long. The anthers of the stamens, which are five in number, protrude from the top of the corolla tube, together with the top of the two-cleft pistil. The calyx, which is so small as to escape notice unless one is aware of its existence, is annular, with small, tooth-like indentations.

While the usual color of the coffee flower is white, the fresh stamens and pistils may have a greenish tinge, and in some cultivated species the corolla is pale pink.

The size and condition of the flowers are entirely dependent on the weather. The flowers are sometimes very small, very fragrant, and very numerous; while at other times, when the weather is not hot and dry, they are very large, but not so numerous. Both sets of flowers mentioned above "set fruit," as it is called; but at times, especially in a very dry season, they bear flowers that are few in number, small, and imperfectly formed, the petals frequently being green instead of white. These flowers do not set fruit. The flowers that open on a dry sunny day show a greater yield of fruit than those that open on a wet day, as the first mentioned have a better chance of being pollinated by the insects and the wind. The beauty of a coffee estate in flower is of a very fleeting character. One day it is a snowy expanse of fragrant white blossoms for miles and miles, as far as the eye can see, and two days later it reminds one of the lines from Villon's Des Dames du Temps Jadis.

Where are the snows of yesterday?
The winter winds have blown them all away.

Coffea Arabica, Flower and Fruit—Costa Rica Coffea Arabica, Flower and Fruit—Costa Rica

But here, the winter winds are not to blame: the soft, gentle breezes of the perpetual summer have wrought the havoc, leaving, however, a not unpleasing picture of dark, cool, mossy green foliage.

The flowers are beautiful, but the eye of the planter sees in them not alone beauty and fragrance. He looks far beyond, and in his mind's eye he sees bags and bags[Pg 136] of green coffee, representing to him the goal and reward of all his toil. After the flowers droop, there appear what are commercially known as the coffee berries. Botanically speaking, "berry" is a misnomer. These little fruits are not berries, such as are well represented by the grape; but are drupes, which are better exemplified by the cherry and the peach. In the course of six or seven months, these coffee drupes develop into little red balls about the size of an ordinary cherry; but, instead of being round, they are somewhat ellipsoidal, having at the outer end a small umbilicus. The drupe of the coffee usually has two locules, each containing a little "stone" (the seed and its parchment covering) from which the coffee bean (seed) is obtained. Some few drupes contain three, while others, at the outer ends of the branches, contain only one round bean, known as the peaberry. The number of pickings corresponds to the different blossomings in the same season; and one tree of the species arabica may yield from one to twelve pounds a year.

Young Coffea Arabica Tree at Kona, Hawaii Young Coffea Arabica Tree at Kona, Hawaii

In countries like India and Africa, the birds and monkeys eat the ripe coffee berries. The so-called "monkey coffee" of India, according to Arnold, is the undigested coffee beans passed through the alimentary canal of the animal.

Survivors of the First Liberian Coffee Trees Introduced into Java in 1876 Survivors of the First Liberian Coffee Trees Introduced into Java in 1876

The pulp surrounding the coffee beans is at present of no commercial importance. Although efforts have been made at various times by natives to use it as a food, its flavor has not gained any great popularity, and the birds are permitted a monopoly of the pulp as a food. From the human standpoint the pulp, or sarcocarp, as it is scientifically called, is rather an annoyance, as it must be removed in order to procure the beans. This is done in one of two ways. The first is known as the dry method, in which the entire fruit is allowed to dry, and is then cracked open. The second way is called the wet method; the sarcocarp is removed by machine, and two wet, slimy seed packets are obtained. These packets, which look for all the world like seeds, are allowed to dry in such a way that fermentation takes place. This rids them of all the slime; and, after they are thoroughly dry, the endocarp, the so-called parchment covering, is easily cracked open and removed. At the same time that the parchment is removed, a thin silvery membrane, the silver skin, beneath the parchment, comes off, too. There are always small fragments of this silver skin to be found in the groove of the coffee bean contained within the parchment packet.

[Pg 137]


From a photograph made at Dramaga, Preanger, Java, in 1907

[Pg 138]

Liberian Coffee Tree at Lamoa, P.I. Liberian Coffee Tree at Lamoa, P.I.

We have said that the coffee tree yields from one to twelve pounds a year, but of course this varies with the individual tree and also with the region. In some countries the whole year's yield is less than 200 pounds per acre, while there is on record a patch in Brazil which yields about seventeen pounds to the tree, bringing the yield per acre much higher.

The beans do not retain their vitality for planting for any considerable length of time; and, if they are thoroughly dried, or are kept for longer than three or four months, they are useless for that purpose. It takes the seed about six weeks to germinate and to appear above ground. Trees raised from seed begin to blossom in about three years; but a good crop can not be expected of them for the first five or six years. Their usefulness, save in exceptional cases, is ended in about thirty years.

The coffee tree can be propagated in a way other than by seeds. The upright branches can be used as slips, which, after taking root, will produce seed-bearing laterals. The laterals themselves can not be used as slips. In Central America the natives sometimes use coffee uprights for fences and it is no uncommon sight to see the fence posts "growing."

The wood of the coffee tree is used also for cabinet work, as it is much stronger than many of the native woods, weighing about forty-three pounds to the cubic foot, having a crushing strength of 5,800 pounds per square inch, and a breaking strength of 10,900 pounds per square inch.

The propagation of the coffee plant by cutting has two distinct advantages over propagation by seed, in that it spares the expense of seed production, which is enormous, and it gives also a method of hybridization, which, if used, might lead not only to very interesting but also to very profitable results.

Two-and-One-Half-Year-Old C. Congensis Two-and-One-Half-Year-Old C. Congensis

The hybridization of the coffee plant was taken up in a thoroughly scientific manner by the Dutch government at the experimental garden established at Bangelan, Java, in 1900. In his studies, twelve varieties of Coffea arabica are recognized by Dr. P.J.S. Cramer[95], namely:

Laurina, a hybrid of Coffea arabica with C. mauritiana, having small narrow leaves, stiff, dense branches, young leaves almost white, berry long and narrow, and beans narrow and oblong.

Murta, having small leaves, dense branches, beans as in the typical Coffea arabica, and the plant able to stand bitter cold.

Menosperma, a distinct type, with narrow leaves and bent-down branches resembling a willow, the berries seldom containing more than one seed.

[Pg 139]


This is a comparatively new species, discovered in the Tchad Lake district of West Africa in 1905. It is a small-beaned variety of Coffea liberica

[Pg 140]

Branches of Coffea Excelsa Grown at the Lamao Experiment Station, P.I. Branches of Coffea Excelsa Grown at the Lamao Experiment Station, P.I.

Mokka (Coffea Mokkæ), having small leaves, dense foliage, small round berries, small round beans resembling split peas, and possessed of a stronger flavor than Coffea arabica.

Purpurescens, a red-leaved variety, comparable with the red-leaved hazel and copper beech, a little less productive than the Coffea arabica.

Variegata, having variegated leaves striped and spotted with white.

Amarella, having yellow berries, comparable with the white-fruited variety of the strawberry, raspberry, etc.

Bullata, having broad, curled leaves; stiff, thick, fragile branches, and round, fleshy berries containing a high percentage of empty beans.

Angustifolia, a narrow-leaved variety, with berries somewhat more oblong and, like the foregoing, a poor producer.

Erecta, a variety that is sturdier than the typical arabica, better suited to windy places, and having a production as in the common arabica.

Maragogipe, a well-defined variety with light green leaves having colored edges: berries large, broad, sometimes narrower in the middle; a light bearer, the whole crop sometimes being reduced to a couple of berries per tree.[96]

C. Stenophylla, From Which Is Obtained the Highland Coffee of Sierra Leone C. Stenophylla, From Which Is Obtained the Highland Coffee of Sierra Leone

Columnaris, a vigorous variety, sometimes reaching a height of 25 feet, having leaves rounded at the base and rather broad, but a shy bearer, recommended for dry climates.

Coffea Stenophylla

Coffea arabica has a formidable rival in the species stenophylla. The flavor of this variety is pronounced by some as surpassing that of arabica. The great disadvantage of this plant is the fact that it requires so long a time before a yield of any value can be secured. Although the time required for the maturing of the crop is so long, when once the plantation begins to yield, the crop is as large as that of Coffea arabica, and occasionally somewhat larger. The leaves are smaller than any of the species described, and the flowers bear their parts in numbers varying from six to nine. The tree is a native of Sierra Leone, where it grows wild.

[Pg 141]


Copyright, 1909, by The Tea and Coffee Trade Journal


[Pg 142]

Coffea Liberica

The bean of Coffea arabica, although the principal bean used in commerce, is not the only one; and it may not be out of place here to describe briefly some of the other varieties that are produced commercially. Coffea liberica is one of these plants. The quality of the beverage made from its berries is inferior to that of Coffea arabica, but the plant itself offers distinct advantages in its hardy growing qualities. This makes it attractive for hybridization.

Wild "Caffein-Free" Coffee Tree Wild "Caffein-Free" Coffee Tree

Mantsaka or Café Sauvage—Madagascar

The Coffea liberica tree is much larger and sturdier than the Coffea arabica, and in its native haunts it reaches a height of 30 feet. It will grow in a much more torrid climate and can stand exposure to strong sunlight. The leaves are about twice as long as those of arabica, being six to twelve inches in length, and are very thick, tough, and leathery. The apex of the leaf is acute. The flowers are larger than those of arabica, and are borne in dense clusters. At any time during the season, the same tree may bear flowers, white or pinkish, and fragrant, or even green, together with fruits, some green, some ripe and of a brilliant red. The corolla has been known to have seven segments, though as a rule it has five. The fruits are large, round, and dull red; the pulps are not juicy, and are somewhat bitter. Unlike Coffea arabica, the ripened drupes do not fall from the trees, and so the picking can be delayed at the planter's convenience.

Differentiating Characteristics of Coffee Beans, in Cross-section Differentiating Characteristics of Coffee Beans, in Cross-section

Col. I. Mature bean. Col. II. Embryo.
A. Coffea arabica, R. Coffea robusta, L. Coffea liberica

Among the allied Liberian species Dr. Cramer recognizes:

Abeokutæ, having small leaves of a bright green, flower buds often pink just before opening (in Liberian coffee never), fruit smaller with sharply striped red and yellow shiny skin, and producing somewhat smaller beans than Liberian coffee, but beans whose flavor and taste are praised by brokers;

Dewevrei, having curled edged leaves, stiff branches, thick-skinned berries, sometimes pink flowers, beans generally smaller than in C. liberica, but of little interest to the trade;

Arnoldiana, a species near to Coffea Abeokutæ having darker foliage and the even colored small berries;

Laurentii Gillet, a species not to be confused with the C. Laurentii belonging to the robusta coffee, but standing near to C. liberica, characterized by oblong rather than thin-skinned berries;

Excelsa, a vigorous, disease-resisting species discovered in 1905 by Aug. Chevalier in West Africa, in the region of the Chari River, not far from Lake Tchad. The broad, dark-green leaves have an under side of light green with a bluish tinge; the flowers are large and white, borne in axillary clusters of one to five; the berries are short and broad, in color crimson, the bean smaller than robusta, very like Mocha, but in color a bright yellow like liberica. The caffein content of the coffee is high, and the aroma is very pronounced;

Dybowskii, another disease-resisting variety similar to excelsa, but having different leaf and fruit characteristics;

Lamboray, having bent gutter-like leaves, and soft-skinned, oblong fruit;

Wanni Rukula, having large leaves, a vigorous growth, and small berries;

Coffea aruwimensis, being a mixture of different types.

[Pg 143]


[Pg 144]

The last three types were received by Dr. Cramer at Bangelan from Frère Gillet in the Belgian Congo, and were still under trial in Java in 1919.

Coffea Robusta

Emil Laurent, in 1898, discovered a species of coffee growing wild in Congo. This was taken up by a horticultural firm of Brussels, and cultivated for the market. This firm gave to the coffee the name Coffea robusta, although it had already been given the name of the discoverer, being known as Coffea Laurentii. The plant differs widely from both arabica and liberica, being considerably larger than either. The tree is umbrella-shaped, due to the fact that its branches are very long and bend toward the ground.

The leaves of robusta are much thinner than those of liberica, though not as thin as those of arabica. The tree, as a whole, is a very hardy variety and even bears blossoms when it is less than a year old. It blossoms throughout the entire year, the flowers having six-parted corollas. The drupes are smaller than those of liberica; but are much thinner skinned, so that the coffee bean is actually not any smaller. The drupes mature in ten months. Although the plants bear as early as the first year, the yield for the first two years is of no account; but by the fourth year the crop is large.

Robusta Coffee in Flower, Preanger, Java Robusta Coffee in Flower, Preanger, Java

Coffee Estate in the Luquillo Mountains, Porto Rico Coffee Estate in the Luquillo Mountains, Porto Rico
Japanese Laborers Picking Coffee on Kona Side, Island of Hawaii Japanese Laborers Picking Coffee on Kona Side, Island of Hawaii


[Pg 145]

Arno Viehoever, pharmacognosist in charge of the pharmacognosy laboratory of the Bureau of Chemistry, United States Department of Agriculture, has recently announced findings confirming Hartwich which appear to permit of differentiation between robusta, arabica, and liberica.[97] These are mainly the peculiar folding of the endosperm, showing quite generally a distinct hook in the case of the robusta coffee bean. The size of the embryo, and especially the relation of the rootlet to hypercotyl, will be found useful in the differentiation of the species Coffea arabica, liberica, and robusta (see cut, page 142).

One-Year-Old Robusta Estate, on Sumatra's West Coast One-Year-Old Robusta Estate, on Sumatra's West Coast

Viehoever and Lepper carried on a series of cup tests of robusta, the results as to taste and flavor being distinctly favorable. They summarized their studies and tests as follows:

The time when coffee could be limited to beans obtained from plants of Coffea arabica and Coffea liberica has passed. Other species, with qualities which make them desirable, even in preference to the well reputed named ones, have been discovered and cultivated. Among them, the species or group of Coffea robusta has attained a great economic significance, and is grown in increasing amounts. While it has, as reports seem to indicate, not as yet been possible to obtain a strain that would be as desirable in flavor as the old "standard" Coffea arabica, well known as Java or "Fancy Java" coffee, its merits have been established.

The botanical origin is not quite cleared up, and the classification of the varieties belonging to the robusta group deserves further study. Anatomical means of differentiating robusta coffee from other species or groups, may be applied as distinctly helpful....

As is usual in most of the coffee species, caffein is present. The amount appears to be, on an average, somewhat larger (even exceeding 2.0 percent) than in the South American coffee species. In no instance, however, did the amount exceed the maximum limits observed in coffee in general....

Due to its rapid growth, early and prolific yield, resistance to coffee blight, and many other desirable qualities, Coffea robusta has established "its own". In the writers' judgment, robusta coffee deserves consideration and recognition.

Among the robusta varieties, Coffea canephora is a distinct species, well characterized by growth, leaves, and berries. The branches are slender and thinner than robusta; the leaves are dark green and narrower; the flowers are often tinged with red; the unripe berries are purple, the ripe berries bright red and oblong. The produce is like robusta, only the shape of the bean, somewhat narrower and more oblong, makes it look more attractive. Coffea canephora,[Pg 146] like C. robusta, seems better fitted to higher altitudes.

Other canephora varieties include:

Madagascar, having small, slightly striped, bright red berries and small round beans;

Quillouensis, having dark green foliage and reddish brown young leaves; and,

Stenophylla Paris, with purplish young berries.

These last two named were under test at the Bangelan gardens in 1919.

Among other allied robusta species are:

Ugandæ:, whose produce is said to possess a better flavor than robusta;

Bukobensis, different from Ugandæ in the color of its berries, which are a dark red; and

Quillou, having bright red fruit, a copper-colored silver skin, three pounds of fruit producing one pound of market coffee. Some people prefer Quillou to robusta because of the difference in the taste of the roasted bean.

Some Interesting Hybrids

The most popular hybrid belongs to a crossing of liberica and arabica. Cramer states that the beans of this hybrid make an excellent coffee combining the strong taste of the liberica with the fine flavor of the old Government Java (arabica), adding:

The hybrids are not only of value to the roaster, but also to the planter. They are vigorous trees, practically free from leaf disease; they stand drought well and also heavy rains; they are not particular in regard to shade and upkeep; never fail to give a fair and often a rather heavy crop. The fruit ripens all the year around, and does not fall so easily as in the case of arabica.

Among other hybrids (many were still under trial in 1919) may be mentioned: Coffea excelsia x liberica; C. Abeokutæ x liberica; C. Dybowskii x excelsa; C. stenophylla x Abeokutæ; C. congensis x Ugandæ; C. Ugandæ x congensis; and C. robusta x Maragogipe.

There are many species of Coffea that stand quite apart from the main groups, arabica, robusta and liberica; but while some are of commercial value, most of them are interesting only from the scientific point of view. Among the latter may be mentioned: Coffea bengalensis, C. Perieri, C. mauritiana, C. macrocarpa, C. madagascariensis, and C. schumanniana.

Coffea Quillou Flowers in Full Bloom Coffea Quillou Flowers in Full Bloom

M. Teyssonnier, of the experimental garden at Camayenne, French Guinea, West Africa, has produced a promising species of coffee known as affinis. It is a hybrid of C. stenophylla with a species of liberica.

[Pg 147]

Among other promising species recognized by Dr. Cramer are:

Coffea congensis, whose berry resembles that of C. arabica, when well prepared for the market being green or bluish; and

Coffea congensis var. Chalotii, probably a hybrid of C. congensis with C. canephora.

Caffein-free Coffee

Certain trees growing wild in the Comoro Islands and Madagascar are known as caffein-free coffee trees. Just whether they are entitled to this classification or not is a question. Some of the French and German investigators have reported coffee from these regions that was absolutely devoid of caffein. It was thought at first that they must represent an entirely new genus; but upon investigation, it was found that they belonged to the genus Coffea, to which all our common coffees belong. Professor Dubard, of the French National Museum and Colonial Garden, studied these trees botanically and classified them as C. Gallienii, C. Bonnieri, C. Mogeneti, and C. Augagneuri. The beans of berries from these trees were analyzed by Professor Bertrand and pronounced caffein-free; but Labroy, in writing of the same coffee, states that, while the bean is caffein-free, it contains a very bitter substance, cafamarine, which makes the infusion unfit for use. Dr. O.W. Willcox[98], in examining some specimens of wild coffee from Madagascar, found that the bean was not caffein-free; and though the caffein content was low, it was no lower than in some of the Porto Rican varieties.

Hartwich[99] reports that Hanausek found no caffein in C. mauritiana, C. humboltiana, C. Gallienii, C. Bonnerii, and C. Mogeneti.

Fungoid Disease of Coffee

The coffee tree, like every other living thing, has specific diseases and enemies, the most common of which are certain fungoid diseases where the mycelium of the fungus grows into the tissue and spots the leaves, eventually causing them to fall, thus robbing the plant of its only means of elaborating food. Its most deadly enemy in the insect world is a small insect of the lepidopterous variety, which is known as the coffee-leaf miner. It is closely related to the clothes moth and, like the moth, bores in its larval stage, feeding on the mesophyl of the leaves. This gives the leaves an appearance of being shriveled or dried by heat.

An Eighteen-Months'-Old Coffea Quillou Tree in Blossom An Eighteen-Months'-Old Coffea Quillou Tree in Blossom

There are three principal diseases, due to fungi, from which the coffee plants[Pg 148] suffer. The most common is known as the leaf-blight fungus, Pellicularia tokeroga, which is a slow-spreading disease, but one that causes great loss. Although the fungus does not produce spores, the leaves die and dry, and are blown away, carrying with them the dried mycelium of the fungus. This mycelium will start to grow as soon as it is supplied with a new moist coffee leaf to nourish it. The method of getting rid of this disease is to spray the trees in seasons of drought.

It was a fungoid disease known as the Hemileia vastatrix that attacked Ceylon's coffee industry in 1869, and eventually destroyed it. It is a microscopic fungus whose spores, carried by the wind, adhere to and germinate upon the leaves of the coffee tree[100].

Another common disease is known as the root disease, which eventually kills the tree by girdling it below the soil. It spreads slowly, but seems to be favored by collections of decaying matter around the base of the tree. Sometimes the digging of ditches around the roots is sufficient to protect it. The other common disease is due to Stilbium flavidum, and is found only in regions of great humidity. It affects both the leaf and the fruit and is known as the spot of leaf and fruit.

Coffea Ugandæ Bent Over by a Heavy Crop Coffea Ugandæ Bent Over by a Heavy Crop

[Pg 149]

Chapter XVI


How the beans may be examined under the microscope, and what is revealed—Structure of the berry, the green, and the roasted bean—The coffee leaf disease under the microscope—Value of microscopic analysis in detecting adulteration

The microscopy of coffee is, on the whole, more important to the planter than to the consumer and the dealer; while, on the other hand, the microscopy is of paramount importance to the consumer and the dealer as furnishing the best means of determining whether the product offered is adulterated or not. Also, from this standpoint, the microscopy of the plant is less important than that of the bean.

Fig. 331. Coffee (Coffea arabica).

Fig. 331. Coffee (Coffea arabica). I—Cross-section of berry, natural size; Pk, outer pericarp; Mk, endocarp; Ek, spermoderm; Sa, hard endosperm; Sp, soft endosperm. II—Longitudinal section of berry, natural size; Dis, bordered disk; Se, remains of sepals; Em, embryo. III—Embryo, enlarged; cot, cotyledon; rad, radicle. (Tschirch and Oesterle.)

The Fruit and the Bean

The fruit, as stated in chapter XV, consists of two parts, each one containing a single seed, or bean. These beans are flattened laterally, so as to fit together, except in the following instances: in the peaberry, where one of the ovules never develops, the single ovule, having no pressure upon it, is spherical; in the rare instances where three seeds are found, the grains are angular.

The coffee bean with which the consumer is familiar is only a small part of the fruit. The fruit, which is the size of a small cherry, has, like the cherry, an outer fleshy portion called the pericarp. Beneath this is a part like tissue paper, spoken of technically as the parchment, but known scientifically as the endocarp. Next in position to this, and covering the seed, is the so-called spermoderm, which means the seed skin, referred to in the trade as the silver skin. Small portions of this silver skin are always to be found in the cleft of the coffee bean.

The coffee bean is the embryo and its food supply; the embryo is that part of the seed which, when supplied with food and moisture, develops into a new plant. The[Pg 150] embryo of the coffee is very minute (Fig. 331, II, Em)[101]; and the greater part of the seed is taken up by the food supply, consisting of hard and soft endosperm (Fig. 331, I and II, Sa, Sp). The minute embryo consists of two small thick leaves, the cotyledons (Fig. 331, III, cot), a short stem, invisible in the undissected embryo, and a small root, the radicle (Fig. 331, III, rad).

Fig. 332. Coffee. Cross section of bean

Fig. 332. Coffee. Cross section of beanshowing folded endosperm with hard and soft tissues. x6. (Moeller)

Fruit Structure

In order to examine the structure of these layers of the fruit under the microscope, it is necessary to use the pericarp dry, as it is not easily obtainable in its natural condition. If desired, an alcoholic specimen may be used, but it has been found that the dry method gives more satisfactory results. The dried pericarp is about 0.5 mm thick. Great difficulty is experienced in cutting microtome sections of pericarp when the specimen is embedded in paraffin, because the outer layers are soft and the endocarp is hard, and the two parts of the section separate at this point. To overcome this, the sections might also be embedded in celloidin. When the sections are satisfactory, they may be stained with any of the double stains ordinarily used in the study of plant histology.

Fig. 333. Coffee. Cross section of hull and bean.

Fig. 333. Coffee. Cross section of hull and bean. Pericarp consists of: 1, epicarp; 2–3, layers of mesocarp, with 4, fibro-vascular bundle; 5, palisade layer; and 6, endocarp; ss, spermoderm, consists of 8, sclerenchyma, and 9, parenchyma; End, endosperm (Tschirch and Oesterle)

A section cut crosswise through the entire fruit would present the appearance shown in Fig. 333. The cells of the epicarp are broad and polygonal, sometimes regularly four-sided, about 15–35 µ broad. At intervals along the surface of the epicarp are stomata, or breathing pores, surrounded by guard cells. The next layer of the pericarp is the mesocarp (Figs. 333, 334, 335), the cells of which are larger and more regular in outline than the epicarp. The cells of the mesocarp become as large as 100 µ broad, but in the inner parts of the layer they become very much flattened. Fibrovascular bundles are scattered through the compressed cells of the mesocarp. The cell walls are thick; and large, amorphous, brown masses are found within the cell; occasionally, large crystals are found in the outer part of the layer. The fibro-vascular bundles consist mainly of bast and wood fibers and vessels. The bast fibers are as large as 1 mm long and 25 µ broad, with[Pg 151] thick walls and very small lumina. Spiral and pitted vessels are also present.

Fig. 334. Coffee. Surface view of ep, epicarp,

Fig. 334. Coffee. Surface view of ep, epicarp, and p, outer parenchyma of mesocarp. x160. (Moeller)

The layer next to this is a soft tissue, parenchyma (Fig. 333, 5; Fig. 334, p). The parenchyma, or palisade cells as they are called, is a thin-walled tissue in which the cells are elongated, from which fact they receive their name. The walls of these cells, though very thin, are mucilaginous, and capable of taking up large amounts of water. They stain well with the aniline stains.

The endocarp (Fig. 336) is closely connected with the palisade layer and has thin-walled cells that closely resemble, in all respects, the endocarp of the apple. The outer layer consists of thick-walled fibers, which are remarkably porous (Fig. 333, 6; Fig. 336) while the fibers of the inner layer are thin-walled and run in the transverse direction.

The Bean Structure

Spermoderm, or silver skin, is not difficult to secure for microscopic analysis; because shreds of it remain in the groove of the berry, and these shreds are ample for examination. It can readily be removed without tearing, if soaked in water for a few hours. The spermoderm is thin enough not to need sectioning. It consists of two elements—sclerenchyma and parenchyma cells. (Figs. 333, 337, st, p).

Fig. 335. Coffee. Elements of pericarp in surface view.

Fig. 335. Coffee. Elements of pericarp in surface view. p, parenchyma; bp, parenchyma of fibro-vascular bundle; b, bast fiber; sp, spiral vessel. x160. (Moeller)

Sclerenchyma forms an uninterrupted covering in the early stages of the seed; but as the seed develops, surrounding tissues grow more rapidly than the sclerenchyma, and the cells are pushed apart and scattered. The cells occurring in the cleft of the berry are straight, narrow, and long, becoming as long as 1 mm, and resemble bast fibers somewhat. On the surface of the berry, and sometimes in the cleft, there are found smaller, thicker cells, which are irregular in outline, club-shaped and vermiform types predominating.

Parenchyma cells form the remainder of the spermoderm; and these are partially obliterated, so that the structure is not easily seen, appearing almost like a solid membrane. The raphe runs through the parenchyma found in the cleft of the berry.

The endosperm (Figs. 333; 338) consist of small cells in the outer part, and large cells, frequently as thick as 100 µ, in the inner part. The cell walls are thickened and knotted. Certain of the inner cells have mucilaginous walls which when treated with water disappear, leaving only the middle lamellae, which gives the section a peculiar appearance. The cells contain no starch, the reserve food supply being stored cellulose, protein, and aleurone grains. Various investigators report the presence of sugar, tannin, iron, salts, and caffein.

The embryo (Fig. 331, III) may be obtained by soaking the bean in water for several hours, cutting through the cleft and carefully breaking apart the endosperm. If[Pg 152] it is now soaked in diluted alkali, the embryo protrudes through the lower end of the endosperm. It is then cleared in alkali, or in chloral hydrate. The cotyledons shown have three pairs of veins, which are slightly netted. The radicle is blunt and is about 34 mm in length, while the cotyledons are 12 mm long.

Fig. 336. Coffee. Sclerenchyma fibers of endocarp. x160. (Moeller)

Fig. 336. Coffee. Sclerenchyma fibers of endocarp. x160. (Moeller)

The Coffee-Leaf Disease

The coffee tree has many pests and diseases; but the disease most feared by planters is that generally referred to as the coffee-leaf disease, and by this is meant the fungoid Hemileia vastatrix, which as told in chapter XV, destroyed Ceylon's once prosperous coffee industry. As it has since been found in nearly all coffee-producing countries, it has become a nightmare in the dreams of all coffee planters. The microscope shows how the spores of this dreaded fungus, carried by the winds upon a leaf of the coffee tree, proceed to germinate at the expense of the leaf; robbing it of its nourishment, and causing it to droop and to die. A mixture of powdered lime and sulphur has been found to be an effective germicide, if used in time and diligently applied.

Fig. 337. Coffee. Spermoderm in surface view. st. sclerenchyma; p, compressed parenchyma. x160. (Moeller)

Fig. 337. Coffee. Spermoderm in surface view. st. sclerenchyma; p, compressed parenchyma. x160. (Moeller)

Fig. 338. Coffee. Cross-section of outer layers of endosperm, showing knotty thickenings of cell walls. x160. (Moeller)

Fig. 338. Coffee. Cross-section of outer layers of endosperm, showing knotty thickenings of cell walls. x160. (Moeller)

Fig. 339. Coffee. Tissues of embryo in section. x160. (Moeller)

Fig. 339. Coffee. Tissues of embryo in section. x160. (Moeller)

Value of Microscopic Analysis

The value of the microscopic analysis of coffee may not be apparent at first sight; but when one realizes that in many cases the microscopic examination is the only way to detect adulteration in coffee, its importance at once becomes apparent. In many instances the chemical analysis fails to get at the root of the trouble, and then the only method to which the tester has recourse is the examination of the suspected material under the scope. The mixing of chicory[Pg 153] with coffee has in the past been one of the commonest forms of adulteration. The microscopic examination in this connection is the most reliable. The coffee grain will have the appearance already described. Microscopically, chicory shows numerous thin-walled parenchymatous cells, lactiferous vessels, and sieve tubes with transverse plates. There are also present large vessels with huge, well-defined pits.

Coffee Leaf Disease (Hemileia vastatrix) Coffee Leaf Disease (Hemileia vastatrix)

1. under surface of affected leaf, x 12; 2, section through same showing mycelium, haustoria, and a spore-cluster; 3, a spore-cluster seen from below; 4, a uredospore; 5, germinating uredospore; 6, appressorial swellings at tips of germ-tubes; 7, infection through stoma of leaf; 8, teleutospores; 9, teleutospore germinating with promycelium and sporidia; 10, sporidia and their germination (2 after Zimmermann, 3 after Delacroix, 4–10 after Ward)

Roasted date stones have been used as adulterants, and these can be detected quite readily with the aid of the microscope, as they have a very characteristic microscopic appearance. The epidermal cells are almost oblong, while the parenchymatous cells are large, irregular and contain large quantities of tannin.

Adulteration and adulterants are considered more fully in chapter XVII.

Green Bean

Green bean, showing the size and form of the cells as well as the drops of oil contained within their cavities. Drawn with the camera lucida, and magnified 140 diameters.

Roasted Coffee

A fragment of roasted coffee under the microscope. Drawn with the camera lucida, and magnified 140 diameters.


Green and Roasted Coffee Under the Microscope

[Pg 154]

Bogota, Green Bogota, Green

Longitudinal—Magnified 200 diameters

Bogota, Green Bogota, Green

Cross Section—Magnified 200 diameters

Bogota, Green Bogota, Green

Tangential—Magnified 200 diameters

Bogota, Roasted Bogota, Roasted

Tangential—Magnified 200 diameters


These pictures serve to demonstrate that the coffee bean is made up of minute cells that are not broken down to any extent by the roasting process. Note that the oil globules are more prominent in the green than in the roasted product

[Pg 155]

Chapter XVII


Chemistry of the preparation and treatment of the green bean—Artificial aging—Renovating damaged coffees—Extracts—"Caffetannic acid"—Caffein, caffein-free coffee—Caffeol—Fats and oils—Carbohydrates—Roasting—Scientific aspects of grinding and packaging—The coffee brew—Soluble coffee—Adulterants and substitutes—Official methods of analysis

By Charles W. Trigg

Industrial Fellow of the Mellon Institute of Industrial Research, Pittsburgh, 1916–1920

When the vast extent of the coffee business is considered, together with the intimate connection which coffee has with the daily life of the average human, the relatively small amount of accurate knowledge which we possess regarding the chemical constituents and the physiological action of coffee is productive of amazement.

True, a painstaking compilation of all the scientific and semi-scientific work done upon coffee furnishes quite a compendium of data, the value of which is not commensurate with its quantity, because of the spasmodic nature of the investigations and the non-conclusive character of the results so far obtained. The following general survey of the field argues in favor of the promulgation of well-ordered and systematic research, of the type now in progress at several places in the United States, into the chemical behavior of coffee throughout the various processes to which it is subjected in the course of its preparation for human consumption.

Green Coffee

One of the few chemical investigations of the growing tree is the examination by Graf of flowers from 20-year-old coffee trees, in which he found 0.9 percent caffein, a reducing sugar, caffetannic acid, and phytosterol. Power and Chestnut[102] found 0.82 percent caffein in air-dried coffee leaves, but only 0.087 percent of the alkaloid in the stems of the plant separated from the leaves. In the course of a study[103] instituted for the purpose of determining the best fertilizers for coffee trees, it developed that the cherries in different stages of growth show a preponderance of potash throughout, while the proportion of P2O5 attains a maximum in the fourth month and then steadily declines.

Experiments are still in progress to ascertain the precise mineral requirements of the crop as well as the most suitable stage at which to apply them. During the first five months the moisture content undergoes a steady decrease, from 87.13 percent to 65.77 percent, but during the final ripening stage in the last month there is a rise of nearly 1 percent. This may explain the premature falling and failure to ripen of the crop on certain soils, especially in years of low rainfall. Malnutrition of the trees may result also in the production of oily beans.[104]

[Pg 156]

The coffee berry comprises about 68 percent pulp, 6 percent parchment, and 26 percent clean coffee beans. The pulp is easily removed by mechanical means; but in order to separate the soft, glutinous, saccharine parchment, it is necessary to resort to fermentation, which loosens the skin so that it may be removed easily, after which the coffee is properly dried and aged. There is first a yeast fermentation producing alcohol; and then a bacterial action giving mainly inactive lactic acid, which is the main factor in loosening the parchment. For the production of the best coffee, acetic acid fermentation (which changes the color of the bean) and temperature above 60° should be avoided, as these inhibit subsequent enzymatic action.[105]

Various schemes have been proposed for utilizing the large amount of pulp so obtained in preparing coffee for market. Most of these depend upon using the pulp as fertilizer, since fresh pulp contains 2.61 percent nitrogen, 0.81 percent P2O5, 2.38 percent potassium, and 0.57 percent calcium. One procedure[106] in particular is to mix pulp with sawdust, urine, and a little lime, and then to leave this mixture covered in a pit for a year before using. In addition to these mineral matters, the pulp also contains about 0.88 percent of caffein and 18 to 37 percent sugars. Accordingly, it has been proposed[107] to extract the caffein with chloroform, and the sugars with acidulated water. The aqueous solution so obtained is then fermented to alcohol. The insoluble portion left after extraction can be used as fuel, and the resulting ash as fertilizer.

The pulp has been dried and roasted for use in place of the berry, and has been imported to England for this purpose. It is stated that the Arabs in the vicinity of Jiddah discard the kernel of the coffee berries and make an infusion of the husk.[108]

Quality of green coffee is largely dependent upon the methods used and the care taken in curing it, and upon the conditions obtaining in shipment and storage. True, the soil and climatic conditions play a determinative rôle in the creation of the characteristics of coffee, but these do not offer any greater opportunity for constructive research and remunerative improvement than does the development of methods and control in the processes employed in the preparation of green coffee for the market.

Cross-Section of the Endosperm or Hard Structure of the Green Bean Cross-Section of the Endosperm or Hard Structure of the Green Bean

Storage prior and subsequent to shipment, and circumstances existing during transportation, are not to be disregarded as factors contributory to the final quality of the coffee. The sweating of mules carrying bags of poorly packed coffee, and the absorption of strong foreign aromas and flavors from odoriferous substances stored in too close proximity to the coffee beans, are classic examples of damage that bear iterative mention. Damage by sea water, due more to the excessive moisture than to the salt, is not so common an occurrence now as heretofore. However, a cheap and thoroughly effective means of ethically renovating coffee which has been damaged in this manner would not go begging for commercial application.

That green coffee improves with age, is a tenet generally accepted by the trade. Shipments long in transit, subjected to the effects of tropical heat under closely battened hatches in poorly ventilated holds, have developed into much-prized yellow matured coffee. Were it not for the large capital required and the attendant prohibitive carrying charges, many roasters would permit their coffees to age more thoroughly before roasting. In fact, some roasters do indulge this desire in regard to a portion of their stock. But were it feasible to treat[Pg 157] and hold coffees long enough to develop their attributes to a maximum, still the exact conditions which would favor such development are not definitely known. What are the optimum temperature and the correct humidity to maintain, and should the green coffee be well ventilated or not while in storage? How long should coffee be stored under the most favorable conditions best to develop it? Aging for too long a period will develop flavor at the expense of body; and the general cup efficiency of some coffees will suffer if they be kept too long.

Portion of the Investing Membrane, Showing Its Structure Portion of the Investing Membrane, Showing Its Structure

Drawn with the camera lucida, and magnified 140 diameters

The exact reason for improvement upon aging is in no wise certain, but it is highly probable that the changes ensuing are somewhat analogous to those occurring in the aging of grain. Primarily an undefined enzymatic and mold action most likely occurs, the nature of the enzymes and molds being largely dependent upon the previous treatment of the coffee. Along with this are a loss of moisture and an oxidation, all three actions having more evident effects with the passage of time.

Artificial Aging

In consideration of the higher prices which aged products demand, attempts have naturally been made to shorten by artificial means the time necessary for their natural production. Some of these methods depend upon obtaining the most favorable conditions for acceleration of the enzyme action; others, upon the effects of micro-organisms; and still others, upon direct chemical reaction or physical alteration of the green bean.

One of the first efforts toward artificial maturing was that of Ashcroft[109], who argued from the improved nature of coffee which had experienced a delayed voyage. His method consisted of inclosing the coffee in sweat-boxes having perforated bottoms and subjecting it to the sweating action of steam, the boxes being enclosed in an oven or room maintained at the temperature of steam.

Structure of the Green Bean Structure of the Green Bean

Showing thick-walled cells enclosing drops of oil

Timby[110] claimed to remove dusts, foreign odors, and impurities, while attaining in a few hours or days a ripening effect normally secured only in several seasons. In this process, the bagged coffee is placed in autoclaves and subjected to the action of air at a pressure of 2 to 3 atmospheres and a temperature of 40° to 100° F. The temperature should seldom be allowed to rise above 150° F. The pressure is then allowed to escape and a partial vacuum created in the apparatus. This alteration of pressure and vacuum is continued until the desired maturation is obtained. Desvignes[111] employs a similar procedure, although he accomplishes seasoning by[Pg 158] treating the coffee also with oxygen or ozone.[112] First the coffee is rendered porous by storage in a hot chamber, which is then exhausted prior to admission of the oxygen. The oxygen can be ozonized in the closed vessel while in contact with the coffee. Complete aging in a few days is claimed.

Weitzmann[113] adopts a novel operation, by exposing bags of raw coffee to the action of a powerful magnetic field, obtained with two adjustable electro-magnets. The claim that a maturation naturally produced in several years is thus obtained in 12 to 2 hours is open to considerable doubt. A process that is probably attended with more commercial success is that of Gram[114] in which the coffee is treated with gaseous nitrogen dioxid.

By far the most notable progress in this field, both scientifically and commercially, has been made by Robison[115] with his "culturing" method. Here the green coffee is washed with water, and then inoculated with selected strains of micro-organisms, such as Ochraeceus or Aspergillus Wintii. Incubation is then conducted for 6 to 7 days at 90° F. and 85 percent relative humidity. Subsequent to this incubation, the coffee is stored in bins for about ten days; after which it is tumbled and scoured. With this process it is possible to improve the cupping qualities of a coffee to a surprising degree.

Renovating Damaged Coffees

Sophistication has often been resorted to in order ostensibly to improve damaged or cheap coffee. Glazing, coloring, and polishing of the green beans was openly and covertly practised until restricted by law. The steps employed did not actually improve the coffee by any means, but merely put it into condition for more ready sale. An apparently sincere endeavor to renovate damaged coffee was made by Evans[116] when he treated it with an aqueous solution of sulphuric acid having a density of 10.5° Baumé. After agitation in this solution, the beans were washed free from acid and dried. In this manner discolorations and impurities were removed and the beans given a fuller appearance.

The addition of glucose, sucrose, lactose, or dextrin to green coffees is practised by von Niessen[117] and by Winter[118], with the object of giving a mild taste and strong aroma to "hard" coffees. The addition is accomplished by impregnating, with or without the aid of vacuum, the beans with a moderately concentrated solution of the sugar, the liquid being of insufficient quantity to effect extraction. When the solution has completely disseminated through the kernels, they are removed and dried. Upon subsequent roasting, a decided amelioration of flavor is secured.

Another method developed by von Niessen[119] comprises the softening of the outer layers of the beans by steam, cold or warm water, or brine, and then surrounding them with an absorbent paste or powder, such as china clay, to which a neutralizing agent such as magnesium oxid may be added. After drying, the clay can be removed by brushing or by causing the beans to travel between oppositely reciprocated wet cloths. In the development of this process, von Niessen evidently argued that the so-called "caffetannic acid" is the "harmful" substance in coffee, and that it is concentrated in the outer layers of the coffee beans. If these be his precepts, the question of their correctness and of the efficiency of his process becomes a moot one.

A procedure which aims at cleaning and refining raw coffee, and which has been the subject of much polemical discussion, is that of Thum[120]. It entails the placing of the green beans in a perforated drum; just covering them with water, or a solution of sodium chloride or sodium carbonate, at 65° to 70° C.; and subjecting them to a vigorous brushing for from 1 to 5 minutes, according to the grade of coffee being treated. The value of this method is somewhat doubtful, as it would not seem to accomplish any more than simple washing. In fact, if anything, the process is undesirable; as some of the extractive matters present in the coffee, and particularly caffein, will be lost. Both Freund[121] and Harnack[122] hold briefs for the product produced by this method, and the latter endeavors analytically to prove its merits; but as his experimental data are questionable, his conclusions do not carry much weight.

[Pg 159]

The Acids of Coffee

The study of the acids of coffee has been productive of much controversy and many contradictory results, few of which possess any value. The acid of coffee is generally spoken of as "caffetannic acid." Quite a few attempts have been made to determine the composition and structure of this compound and to assign it a formula. Among them may be noted those of Allen,[123] who gives it the empirical formula C14H16O7; Hlasiwetz,[124] who represents it as C15H18O8; Richter, as C30H18O16; Griebel,[125] as C18H24O10, and Cazeneuve and Haddon,[126] as C21H28O14. It is variously supposed to exist in coffee as the potassium, calcium, or magnesium salt. In regard to the physical appearance of the isolated substance there is also some doubt, Thorpe[127] describing it as an amorphous powder, and Howard[128] as a brownish, syrup-like mass, having a slight acid and astringent taste.

The chemical reactions of "caffetannic acid" are generally agreed upon. A dark green coloration is given with ferric chloride; and upon boiling it with alkalies or dilute acids, caffeic acid and glucose are formed. Fusion with alkali produces protocatechuic acid.

K. Gorter[129] has made an extensive and accurate investigation into the matter, and in reporting upon the same has made some very pertinent observations. His claim is that the name "caffetannic acid" is a misnomer and should be abandoned. The so-called "caffetannic acid" is really a mixture which has among its constituents chlorogenic acid (C32H38O19), which is not a tannic acid, and coffalic acid. Tatlock and Thompson[130] have expressed the opinion that roasted coffee contains no tannin, and that the lead precipitate contains mostly coloring matter. They found only 4.5 percent of tannin (precipitable by gelatin or alkaloids) in raw coffee.

Hanausek[131] demonstrated the presence of oxalic acid in unripe beans, and citric acid has been isolated from Liberian coffee. It also has been claimed that viridic acid, C14H20O11, is present in coffee. In addition to these, the fat of coffee contains a certain percentage of free fatty acids.

It is thus apparent that even in green coffee there is no definite compound "caffetannic acid," and there is even less likelihood of its being present in roasted coffee. The conditions, high heat and oxidation, to which coffee is subjected in roasting would suffice to decompose this hypothetical acid if it were present.

In the method of analysis for caffetannic acid (No. 24) given at the end of this chapter, there are many chances of error, although this procedure is the best yet devised. Lead acetate forms three different compounds with "caffetannic acid," so that this reagent must be added with extreme care in order to precipitate the compound desired. The precipitate, upon forming, mechanically carries down with it any fats which may be present, and which are removed from it only with difficulty. The majority of the mineral salts in the solution will come down simultaneously. All of the above-mentioned organic acids form insoluble salts with lead acetate, and there will also be a tendency toward precipitation of certain of the components of caramel, the acidic polymerization products of acrolein, glycerol, etc., and of the proteins and their decomposition products.

In view of this condition of uncertainty in composition, necessity for great care in manipulation, and ever-present danger of contamination, the significance of "caffetannic acid analysis" fades. It is highly desirable that the nomenclature relevant to this analytical procedure be changed to one, such as "lead number," which will be more truly indicative of its significance.

The Alkaloids of Coffee

In addition to caffein, the main alkaloid of coffee, trigonellin—the methylbetaine of nicotinic acid—sometimes known as caffearine, has been isolated from coffee.[132] This alkaloid, having the formula C14H16O4N2, is also found in fenugreek, Trigonella fœnum-græcum, in various leguminous plants, and in the seeds of strophanthus. When pure it forms colorless needles melting at 140° C., and, as with all alkaloids, gives a weak basic reaction. It is very soluble in water, slightly soluble in alcohol, and only very slightly soluble in[Pg 160] ether, chloroform or benzol, so that it does not contaminate the caffein in the determination of the latter. Its effects on the body have not been studied, but they are probably not very great, as Polstorff obtained only 0.23 percent from the coffee which he examined.

Caffein, thein, trimethylxanthin, or C5H(CH3)3N4O2, in addition to being in the coffee bean is also found in guarana leaves, the kola nut, maté, or Paraguay tea, and, in small quantities, in cocoa. It is also found in other parts of these plants besides those commonly used for food purposes.

A neat test for detecting the presence of caffein is that of A. Viehoever,[133] in which the caffein is sublimed directly from the plant tissue in a special apparatus. The presence of caffein in the sublimate is verified by observing its melting point, determined on a special heating stage used in connection with a microscope.

The chief commercial source of this alkaloid is waste and damaged tea, from which it is prepared by extraction with boiling water, the tannin precipitated from the solution with litharge, and the solution then concentrated to crystallize out the caffein. It is further purified by sublimation or recrystallization from water. Coffee chaff and roaster-flue dust have been proposed as sources for medicinal caffein, but the extraction of the alkaloid from the former has not proven to be a commercial success. Several manufacturers of pharmaceuticals are now extracting caffein from roaster-flue dust, probably by an adaptation of the Faunce[134] process. The recovery of caffein from roaster-flue gases may be facilitated and increased by the use of a condenser such as proposed Ewé.[135]

Pure caffein forms long, white, silky, flexible needles, which readily felt together to form light, fleecy masses. It melts at 235–7° C. and sublimes completely at 178° C., though the sublimation starts at 120°. Salts of an unstable nature are formed with caffein by most acids. The solubility of caffein as determined by Seidell[136] is given in Table I.

Table I—The Solubility of Caffein
Solvent Sp. Gr. of
of Solution
Grm. Caffein
per 100
Grm. of
Sp. Gr. of
Water 0.997 25 2.14 ——
Ether 0.716 25 0.27 ——
Chloroform 1.476 25 11.0 ——
Acetone 0.809 30–1 2.18 0.832
Benzene 0.872 30–1 1.22 0.875
Benzaldehyde 1.055 30–1 11.62 1.087
Amylacetate 0.860 30–1 0.72 0.862
Aniline 1.02 30–1 22.89 1.080
Amyl alcohol 0.814 25 0.49 0.810
Acetic acid 1.055 21.5 2.44 ——
Xylene 0.847 32.5 1.11 0.847
Toluene 0.862 25 0.57 0.861

The similarity between caffein and theobromin (the chief alkaloid of cocoa), xanthin (one of the constituents of meat), and uric acid, is shown by the accompanying structural formulæ.

These formulæ show merely the relative position occupied by caffein in the purin group, and do not in any wise indicate, because of its similarity of structure to the other compounds, that it has the same physiological action. The presence and position of the methyl groups (CH3) in caffein is probably the controlling factor which makes its action differ from the behavior of other members of the series. The structure of these compounds was established, and their syntheses accomplished, in the course of various classic researches by Emil Fischer.[137]

Formula for Caffein, Showing Its Relation to the Purin Group Formula for Caffein, Showing Its Relation to the Purin Group

Gorter states that caffein exists in coffee in combination with chlorogenic acid as a potassium chlorogenate, C32H36O19, K2(C8H10O2N4)2·2H2O, which he isolated in colorless prisms. This compound is water-soluble, but caffein can not be extracted from the crystals with anhydrous solvents. To this behavior can probably be attributed the difficulty experienced in extracting caffein from coffee with dry organic solvents. However, the fact that a small percentage can be extracted from the green bean in this manner indicates that some of the caffein content exists therein in a free state. This acid compound of caffein will be largely decomposed during the process of torrefaction, so that in roasted coffee a larger percentage will be present in the free state. Microscopical examination of the roasted bean lends verisimilitude to this contention.

Planter's Bungalow with Coffee Trees in Flower, Mysore Planter's Bungalow with Coffee Trees in Flower, Mysore
Coolies Bagging Coffee on the Drying Grounds Coolies Bagging Coffee on the Drying Grounds

[Pg 161]

Table II—Coffee Analyses
Moisture April 20th 8.75 3.75 8.78 2.72 9.59 3.40 9.06 3.36
Moisture September 20th 8.12 6.45 8.05 6.03 8.68 6.92 8.15 7.10
Ash 4.41 4.49 4.23 4.70 3.93 4.48 4.20 4.43
Oil 12.96 13.76 12.28 13.33 12.42 13.07 14.04 14.18
Caffein 1.87 1.81 1.56 1.47 1.26 1.22 1.31 1.28
Caffein, dry basis 2.03 —— 1.69 —— 1.39 —— 1.44 ——
Crude fiber 20.70 14.75 21.92 14.95 22.23 15.23 22.46 15.41
Protein 9.50 12.93 12.62 14.75 10.43 11.69 8.56 9.57
Protein, dry basis 10.41 —— 13.68 —— 11.53 —— 9.41 ——
Water extract 31.11 30.30 30.83 30.21 31.04 30.47 31.27 30.44
Specific gravity, 10 percent extract  1.0109  1.0101  1.0107  1.0104  1.0105  1.0404  1.0108  1.0108
Bushelweight 47.0 28.2 45.2 27.8 52.2 27.2 48.8 30.2
1,000 kernel weight 103.60 120.20 167.30 151.35 189.20 165.80 119.52 100.00
1,000 kernel weight, dry basis 119.1 115.7 154.1 147.2 171.0 160.1 108.6 96.6
Dextrose —— 0.72 —— 0.81 —— 0.54 —— 0.46
Caffetannic acid .58 17.44 15.37 16.93 16.27 17.13 15.61 16.89
Acidity by titration apparent 1.50 2.08 1.47 2.00 1.39 2.13 1.11 1.87

As may be seen in Table II,[138] the caffein content of coffee varies with the different kinds, a fair average of the caffein content being about 1.5 percent for C. arabica, to which class most of our coffees belong. However, aside from these may be mentioned C. canephora, which yields 1.97 percent caffein; C. mauritiana, which contains 0.07 percent of the alkaloid (less than the average "caffein-free coffee"); and C. humboltiana, which contains no caffein, but a bitter principle, cafemarin. Neither do the berries of C. Gallienii, C. Bonnieri, or C. Mogeneti contain any caffein; and there has also been reported[139] a "Congo coffee" which contained no crystallizable alkaloid whatever.

Apparently the variation in caffein content is largely due to the genus of the tree from which the berry comes, but it is also quite probable that the nature of the soil and climatic conditions play an important part. In the light of what has been accomplished in the field of agricultural research, it does not seem improbable that a man of Burbank's ability and foresight could successfully develop a series of coffees possessed of all the cup qualities inherent in those now used, but totally devoid of caffein. Whether this is desirable or not is a question to be considered in an entirely different light from the possibility of its accomplishment.

Table III—Caffein in Different Roasts
  Rio Santos Guatemala
Green 1.68% 1.85% 1.82%
Cinnamon 1.70 1.72 1.80
Medium 1.66 1.66 1.56
City 1.36 1.66 1.46

The variation in the caffein content of coffee at different intensities of roasting, as shown in Table III[140] is, of course, primarily dependent upon the original content of the green. A considerable portion of the caffein is sublimed off during roasting, thus decreasing the amount in the bean. The higher the roast is carried, the greater the shrinkage; but, as the analyses in the above table show, the loss of caffein proceeds out of proportion to the shrinkage, for the percentage of caffein constantly decreases with the increase in color. If the roast be carried almost to the point of carbonization, as in the case of the "Italian roast," the caffein content will be almost nil. This is not a suitable coffee for one desiring an almost caffein-free drink, for the empyreumatic products produced by this excessive roasting will be more toxic by far than the caffein itself would have been.

Caffein-free Coffee

The demand for a caffein-free coffee may be attributed to two causes, namely: the objectionable effect which caffein has upon neurasthenics; and the questionable advertising of the "coffee-substitute" dealers, who have by this means persuaded many normal persons into believing that they are decidedly sub-normal. As a result of this demand, a variety of decaffeinated coffees[Pg 162] have been placed on the market. Just why the coffee men have not taken advantage of naturally caffein-free coffees, or of the possibility of obtaining coffees low in caffein content by chemical selection from the lines now used, is a difficult question to answer.

In the endeavor to develop a commercial decaffeinated coffee the first method of procedure was to extract the caffein from roasted coffee. This method had its advantages and its disadvantages, of which the latter predominated. The caffein in the roasted coffee is not as tightly bound chemically as in the green coffee, and is, therefore, more easily extracted. Also, the structure of the roasted bean renders it more readily penetrable by solvents than does that of the green bean. However, the great objection to this method arises from the fact that at the same time as the caffein is extracted, the volatile aromatic and flavoring constituents of the coffee are removed also. These substances, which are essential for the maintenance of quality by the coffee, though readily separated from the caffein, can not be returned to the roasted bean with any degree of certainty. This virtually insurmountable obstacle forced the abandonment of this mode of attack.

In order to avoid this action, the attention of investigators was directed to extraction of the alkaloid in question from the green bean. Because of the difficulty of causing the solvent to penetrate the bean, recourse to grinding resulted. This greatly facilitated the desired extraction, but a difficulty was encountered when the subsequent roasting was attempted. The irregular and broken character of the ground green beans resisted all attempts to produce practically a uniformly roasted, highly aromatic product from the ground material.

Avoidance of this lack of uniformity in the product, and the great desirability to duplicate the normal bean as far as possible, necessitated the development of a method of extraction of the caffein from the whole raw bean without a permanent alteration of the shape thereof. The close structure of the green bean, and its consequent resistance to penetration by solvents, and the existence of the caffein in the bean as an acid salt, which is not easily soluble, offered resistance to successful extraction.

As a means of overcoming the difficulty of structure, the beans were allowed to stand in water in order to swell, or the cells were expanded by treatment with steam, or the beans were subjected to the action of some "cellulose-softening acids," such as acetic acid or sulphur dioxid. As a method of facilitating the mechanical side of extraction without deleterious effects, the treatment of the coffee with steam under pressure, as utilized in the patented process of Myer, Roselius, and Wimmer,[141] is probably the safest.

Many ingenious methods have been devised for the ready removal of the caffein from this point on. Several processes employ an alkali, such as ammonium hydroxid, to free the caffein from the acid; or an acid, such as acetic, hydrochloric, or sulphurous, is used to form a more soluble salt of caffein. Other procedures effect the dissociation of the caffein-acid salt by dampening or immersion in a liquid and subjecting the mass to the action of an electric current.

The caffein is usually extracted from the beans by benzol or chloroform, but a variety of solvents may be employed, such as petrolic ether, water, alcohol, carbon tetrachloride, ethylene chloride, acetone, ethyl ether, or mixtures or emulsions of these. After extraction, the beans may be steam distilled to remove and to recover any residual traces of solvent, and then dried and roasted. It is said[142] that by heating the beans before bringing them into contact with steam, not only is an economy of steam effected, but the quality of the resultant product is improved.

One clever but expensive method[143] of preparing caffein-free coffee consists in heating the beans under pressure, with some substance, such as sodium salicylate, with the resultant formation of a more soluble and more easily steam-distillable compound of caffein. The beans are then steam distilled to remove the caffein, dried, and roasted.

Another process of peculiar interest is that of Hubner,[144] in which the coffee beans are well washed and then spread in layers and kept covered with water at 15° C. until limited germination has taken place, whereupon the beans are removed and the caffein extracted with water at 50° C. It is claimed by the inventor that sprouting serves to remove some of the caffein, but it is quite probable that the process does nothing[Pg 163] more than accomplish simple aqueous extraction.

In the majority of these processes the flavor of the resultant product should be very similar to natural roasted coffee. However, in the cases where aqueous extraction is employed, other substances besides caffein are removed that are replaced in the bean only with difficulty. The resultant product accordingly is very likely to have a flavor not entirely natural. On the other hand, beans from which the caffein is extracted with volatile solvents, if the operation be conducted carefully, should give a natural-tasting roast. Any residual traces of the solvent left in the bean are volatilized upon roasting.

Some of the caffein-free coffees on the market show upon analysis almost as much caffein as the natural bean. Those manufactured by reliable concerns, however, are virtually caffein-free, their content of the alkaloid varying from 0.3 to 0.07 percent as opposed to 1.5 percent in the untreated coffee. Thus, although actually only caffein-poor, in order to get the reaction of one cup of ordinary coffee one would have to drink an unusual amount of the brew made from these coffees.

The Aromatic Principles of Coffee

To ascertain just what substance or substances give the pleasing and characteristic aroma to coffee has long been the great desire of both practical and scientific men interested in the coffee business. This elusive material has been variously called caffeol, caffeone, "the essential oil of coffee," etc., the terms having acquired an ambiguous and incorrect significance. It is now generally agreed that the aromatic constituent of coffee is not an essential oil, but a complex of compounds which usage has caused to be collectively called "caffeol."

These substances are not present in the green bean, but are produced during the process of roasting. Attempts at identification and location of origin have been numerous; and although not conclusive, still have not proven entirely futile. One of the first observations along this line was that of Benjamin Thompson in 1812. "This fragrance of coffee is certainly owing to the escape of a volatile aromatic substance which did not originally exist as such in the grain, but which is formed in the process of roasting it." Later, Graham, Stenhouse, and Campbell started on the way to the identification of this aroma by noting that "in common with all the valuable constituents of coffee, caffeone is found to come from the soluble portion of the roasted seed."[145]

Comparison of the aroma given off by coffee during the roasting process with that of fresh-ground roasted coffee shows that the two aromas, although somewhat different, may be attributed to the same substances present in different proportions in the two cases. Recovery and identification of the aromatic principles escaping from the roaster would go far toward answering the question regarding the nature of the aroma. Bernheimer[146] reported water, caffein, caffeol, acetic acid, quinol, methylamin, acetone, fatty acids and pyrrol in the distillate coming from roasting coffee. The caffeol obtained by Bernheimer in this work was believed by him to be a methyl derivative of saligenin. Jaeckle[147] examined a similar product and found considerable quantities of caffein, furfurol, and acetic acid, together with small amounts of acetone, ammonia, trimethylamin, and formic acid. The caffeol of Bernheimer could not be detected. Another substance was separated also, but in too small a quantity to permit complete identification. This substance consisted of colorless crystals, which readily sublimed, melted at 115° to 117° C., and contained sulphur. The crystals were insoluble in water, almost insoluble in alcohol, but readily soluble in ether.

By distilling roasted coffee with superheated steam, Erdmann[148] obtained an oil consisting of an indifferent portion of 58 percent and an acid portion of 42 percent, consisting mainly of a valeric acid, probably alphamethylbutyric acid. The indifferent portion was found to contain about 50 percent furfuryl alcohol, together with a number of phenols. The fraction containing the characteristic odorous constituent of coffee boiled at 93° C. under 13 mm. pressure. The yield of this latter principle was extremely small, only about 0.89 gram being procured from 65 kilos of coffee.

Pyridin was also shown to be present in coffee by Betrand and Weisweiller[149] and by Sayre.[150] As high as 200 to 500 milligrams[Pg 164] of this toxic compound have been obtained from 1 kilogram of freshly roasted coffee.

As stated above, the empyreumatic volatile aromatic constituents of the coffee are without question formed during and by the roasting process. According to Thorpe,[151] the most favorable temperature for development of coffee odor and flavor is about 200° C. Erdmann claimed to have produced caffeol by gently heating together caffetannic acid, caffein, and cane sugar. Other investigators have been unable to duplicate this work. Another authority,[152] giving it the empirical formula C8H10O2, states that it is produced during roasting, probably at the expense of a portion of the caffein. These conceptions are in the main incomplete and inaccurate.

By means of careful work, Grafe[153] came closer to ascertaining the origin of the fugacious aromatic materials. His work with normal, caffein-free coffee and with Thum's purified coffee led him to state that a part of these substances was derived from the crude fiber, probably from the hemi-cellulose of the thick endosperm cells. Sayre[154] makes the most plausible proposal regarding the origin of caffeol. He considers the roasting of coffee as a destructive distillation process, summarizing the results, briefly, as the production of furfuraldehyde from the carbohydrates, acrolein from the fats, catechol and pyrogallol from the tannins, and ammonia, amins, and pyrrols from the proteins. The products of roasting inter-react to produce many compounds of varying degrees of complexity and toxicity.

The great difficulty which arises in the attempt to identify the aromatic constituents of coffee is that the caffeols of no two coffees may be said to be the same. The reason for this is apparent; for the green coffees themselves vary in composition, and those of the same constitution are not roasted under identical conditions. Therefore, it is not to be expected that the decomposition products formed by the action of the different greens would be the same. Also, these volatile products occur in the roasted coffee in such a small amount that the ascertaining of their percentage relationship and the recognition of all that are present are not possible with the methods of analysis at present at our disposal. Until better analytical procedures have been developed we can not hope to establish a chemical basis for the grading of coffees from this standpoint.

Coffee Oil and Fat

It is well to distinguish between the "coffee oils," as they are termed by the trade, and true coffee oil. In speaking of the qualities of coffee, connoisseurs frequently use erroneous terms, particularly when they designate certain of the flavoring and aromatic constituents of coffee as "oils" or "essential oils." Coffee does not contain any essential oils, the aromatic constituent corresponding to essential oil in coffee being caffeol, a complex which is water-soluble, a property not possessed by any true oil. True, the oil when isolated from roasted coffee does possess, before purification, considerable of the aromatic and flavoring constituents of coffee. They are, however, no part of the coffee fat, but are held in it no doubt by an enfleurage action in much the same way that perfumes of roses, etc., are absorbed and retained by fats and oils in the commercial preparation of pomades and perfumes. This affinity of the coffee oil for caffeol assists in the retention of aromatic substances by the whole roasted bean. However, upon extraction of ground roasted coffee with water, the caffeol shows a preferential solubility in water, and is dissolved out from the oil, going into the brew.

The true oil of coffee has been investigated to a fair degree and has been found to be inodorous when purified. Analysis of green and roasted coffees shows them to possess between 12 percent and 20 percent fat. Warnier[155] extracted ground unroasted coffee with petroleum ether, washed the extract with water, and distilled off the solvent, obtaining a yellow-brownish oil possessing a sharp taste. From his examination of this oil he reported these constants: d24–5, 0.942; refraction at 25°, 81.5; solidifying point, 6° to 5°; melting point, 8° to 9°; saponification number, 177.5; esterification number, 166.7; acid number, 6.2; acetyl number, 0; iodin number, 84.5 to 86.3. Meyer and Eckert[156] carefully purified coffee oil and saponified it with Li2O in alcohol. In the saponifiable portion, glycerol was the only alcohol present, the acids being carnaubic, 10 percent; daturinic acid, 1 to 1.5 percent; palmitic[Pg 165] acid, 25 to 28 percent; capric acid, 0.5 percent; oleic acid, 2 percent, and linoleic acid, 50 percent. The unsaponifiable wax amounted to 21.2 percent, was nitrogen-free, gave a phytostearin reaction, and saponification and oxidation indicated that it was probably a tannol carnaubate. Von-Bitto[157] examined the fat extracted from the inner husk of the coffee berry and found it to be faint yellow in color, and to solidify only gradually after melting. Upon analysis, it showed: saponification value, 141.2; palmitic acid, 37.84 percent, and glycerids as tripalmitin, 28.03 percent.

Carbohydrates of the Coffee Berry

There has been considerable diversity of opinion regarding the sugar of coffee. Bell believed the sugar to be of a peculiar species allied to melezitose, but Ewell,[158] G.L. Spencer, and others definitely proved the presence of sucrose in coffee. In fat-free coffee 6 percent of sucrose was found extractable by 70 percent alcohol. Baker[159] claimed that manno-arabinose, or manno-xylose, formed one of the most important constituents of the coffee-berry substance and yielded mannose on hydrolysis. Schultze and Maxwell state that raw coffee contains galactan, mannan, and pentosans, the latter present to the extent of 5 percent in raw and 3 percent in roasted coffee. By distilling coffee with hydrochloric acid Ewell obtained furfurol equivalent to 9 percent pentose. He also obtained a gummy substance which, on hydrolysis, gave rise to a reducing sugar; and as it gave mucic acid and furfurol on oxidation, he concluded that it was a compound of pentose and galactose. In undressed Mysore coffee Commaille[160] found 2.6 percent of glucose and no dextrin. This claim of the presence of glucose in coffee was substantiated by the work of Hlasiwetz,[161] who resolved a caffetannic acid, which he had isolated, into glucose and a peculiar crystallizable acid, C8H8O4, which he named caffeic acid.

The starch content of coffee is very low. Cereals may readily be detected and identified in coffee mixtures by the presence and characteristics of their starch, in view of the fact that coffee (chicory, too) is practically free from starch. On this score it is inadvisable for diabetics to use any of the many cereal substitutes for coffee. It is pertinent to note in this connection that persons suffering from diabetes may sweeten their coffee with saccharin (12 to 1 grain per cup) or glycerol, thus obtaining perfect satisfaction without endangering their health.

The cellulose in coffee is of a very hard and horny character in the green bean, but it is made softer and more brittle during the process of roasting. It is rather difficult to define under the microscope, particularly after roasting, even though the chief characteristics of the cellular tissue are more or less retained. Coffee cellulose gives a blue color with sulphuric acid and iodin, and is dissolved by an ammoniacal solution of copper oxid. Even after roasting, remnants of the silver skin are always present, the structure of which, a thin membrane with adherent, thick-walled, spindle-shaped, hollow cells, is peculiar to coffee.

The Chemistry of Roasting

The effect of the heat in the roasting of coffee is largely evidenced as a destructive distillation and also as a partial dehydration. At the same time, oxidizing and reducing reactions probably occur within the bean, as well as some polymerization and inter-reactions.

A loss of water is to be expected as the natural outcome of the application of heat; and analyses show that the moisture content of raw coffee varies from 8 to 14 percent, while after roasting it rarely exceeds 3 percent, and frequently falls as low as 0.5 percent. The loss of the original water content of the green bean is not the only moisture loss; for many of the constituents of coffee, notably the carbohydrates, are decomposed upon heating to give off water, so that analysis before and after roasting is no direct indication of the exact amount of water driven off in the process. If it be desired to ascertain this quantity accurately, catching of the products which are driven off and determination of their water content becomes necessary.

The carbohydrates both dehydrate and decompose. The result of the dehydration is the formation of caramel and related products, which comprise the principal coloring matters in coffee infusion. That portion of the carbohydrates known as pentosans gives rise to furfuraldehyde, one of the important components of caffeol.

The effect of roasting upon the fat content of the beans is to reduce its actual[Pg 166] weight, but not to change appreciably the percentage present, since the decrease in quantity keeps pace fairly well with the shrinkage. Some of the more volatile fatty acids are driven off, and the fats break down to give a larger percentage of free fatty acids, some light esters, acrolein, and formic acid. If the roast be a very heavy one, or is brought up too rapidly, the fat will come to the surface, through breaking of the fat cells, with a decided alteration in the chemical nature of the fat and with pronounced expansion and cracking.

Decomposition of the caffein acid-salt and considerable sublimation of the caffein also occur. The majority of the caffein undergoes this volatilization unchanged, but a portion of it is probably oxidized with the formation of ammonia, methylamin, di-methylparabanic acid, and carbon dioxid. This reaction partly explains why the amount of caffein recovered from the roaster flues is not commensurate with the amount lost from the roasting coffee; although incomplete condensation is also an important factor. Microscopic examination of the roasted beans will show occasional small crystals of caffein in the indentations on the surface, where they have been deposited during the cooling process.

The compound, or compounds, known as "caffetannic acid" are probably the source of catechol, as the proteins are of ammonia, amins, and pyrrols. The crude fiber and other unnamed constituents of the raw beans react analogously to similar compounds in the destructive distillation of wood, giving rise to acetone, various fatty acids, carbon dioxid and other uncondensable gases, and many compounds of unknown identity.

During the course of roasting and subsequent cooling these decomposition products probably interact and polymerize to form aromatic tar-like materials and other complexes which play an important rôle among the delicate flavors of coffee. In fact, it is not unlikely that these reactions continue throughout the storage time after roasting, and that upon them the deterioration of roasted coffee is largely dependent. Speculation upon what complex compounds are thus formed offers much attraction. A notable one by Sayre[162] postulates the reaction between acrolein and ammonia to give methyl pyridin, which in turn with furfurol forms furfurol vinyl pyridin. This upon reduction would produce the alkaloid, conin, traces of which have been found in coffee.

Although furfuraldehyde is the natural decomposition product of pentosans, furfuryl alcohol is the main furane body of coffee aroma. This would indicate that active reducing conditions prevail within the bean during roasting; and the further fact that carbon monoxid is given off during roasting makes this seem quite probable. If one admits that caffetannic acid exists in the green bean; that upon oxidation it gives viridic acid; and that it is concentrated in the outer layers of the bean, as certain investigators have claimed, then there is chemical proof of the existence of oxidizing conditions about the exterior of the bean. In any event, however, the fact that oxidizing conditions predominate on the external portion of the bean is obvious. Accordingly, our meager knowledge of the chemistry of roasting indicates that while the external layers of the roasting beans are subjected to oxidizing conditions, reducing ones exist in the interior. Future experimentation will, no doubt, prove this to be the case.

Attempts have been made to retain in the beans the volatile products, which normally escape, both by coating previous to roasting[163] and by conducting the process under pressure.[164] However, the results so obtained were not practical, since the cup values were decreased in the majority of cases, and the physiological effects produced were undesirable. In cases where the quality was improved, the gain was not sufficient to recompense the roaster for the additional expense and difficulty of operation.

Various persons have essayed to control the roasting process automatically; but the extreme variance in composition of different coffees, the effect of changing atmospheric conditions, and the lack of constancy in the calorific power of fuels have conspired to defeat the automatic roasting machine.[165] It is even doubtful whether De Mattia's[166] process for roasting until the vapors evolved produce a violet color when passed into a solution of fuchsin decolorized with sulphur dioxid is commercially reliable.

[Pg 167]

Many patents have been granted for the treatment of coffees immediately prior to or during roasting with the object of thus improving the product. The majority of these depend upon adding solutions of sugar,[167] calcium saccharate,[168] or other carbohydrates,[169] and in the case of Eckhardt,[170] of small percentages of tannic acid and fat. In direct opposition to this latter practise, Jurgens and Westphal[171] apply alkali, ostensibly to lessen the "tannic acid" content. Brougier[172] sprays a solution containing caffein upon the roasting berries; and Potter[173] roasts the coffee together with chicory, effecting a separation at the end.

Ground Coffee Under the Microscope Ground Coffee Under the Microscope

The exact effect which roasting with sugars has upon the flavor is not well understood; but it is known that it causes the beans to absorb more moisture, due to the hygroscopicity of the caramel formed. For instance, berries roasted with the addition of glucose syrup hold an additional 7 percent of water and give a darker infusion than normally roasted coffee. When the green coffee is glazed with cane sugar prior to roasting, the losses during the process are much higher than ordinarily, on account of the higher temperature required to attain the desired results. Losses for ordinary coffee taken to a 16-percent roast are 9.7 percent of the original fat and 21.1 percent of the original caffein; while for "sugar glazed" coffee the losses were 18.3 percent of the original fat and 44.3 percent of the original caffein, using 8 to 9 percent sugar with Java coffee.

Grinding and Packaging

It is a curious fact that green coffee improves upon aging, whereas after roasting it deteriorates with time. Even when packed in the best containers, age shows to a disadvantage on the roasted bean. This is due to a number of causes, among which are oxidation, volatilization of the aroma, absorption of moisture and consequent hydrolysis, and alteration in the character of the aromatic principles. Doolittle and Wright[174] in the course of some extensive experiments found that roasted coffee showed a continual gain in weight throughout 60 weeks, this gain being mostly due to moisture absorption. An investigation by Gould[175] also demonstrated that roasted coffee gives off carbon dioxid and carbon monoxid upon standing. The latter, apparently produced during roasting and retained by the cellular structure of the bean, diffuses therefrom; whereas the former comes from an ante-roasting decomposition of unstable compounds present.[176]

The surface of the whole bean forms a natural protection against atmospheric influences, and as soon as this is broken, deterioration sets in. On this account, coffee should be ground immediately before extraction if maximum efficiency is to be obtained. The cells of the beans tend to retain the fugacious aromatic principles to a certain extent; so that the more of these which are broken in grinding, the greater will be the initial loss and the more rapid the vitiation of the coffee. It might, therefore, seem desirable to grind coarsely in order to avoid this as much as possible. However, the coarser the grind, the slower and more incomplete will be the extraction. A patent[177] has been granted for a grind which contains about 90 percent fine coffee and 10 percent coarse, the patentee's claim being that in his "irregular grind" the coarse coffee retains enough of the volatile constituents to flavor the beverage, while the fine coffee gives a very high extraction,[Pg 168] thus giving an efficient brew without sacrificing individuality.

In packaging roasted coffee the whole bean is naturally the best form to employ, but if the coffee is ground first, King[178] found that deterioration is most rapid with the coarse ground coffee, the speed decreasing with the size of the ground particles. He explains this on the ground of "ventilation"—the finer the grind, the closer the particles pack together, the less the circulation of air through the mass, and the smaller the amount of aroma which is carried away. He also found that glass makes the best container for coffee, with the tin can, and the foil-lined bag with an inner lining of glassine, not greatly inferior.

Considerable publicity has been given recently to the method of packing coffee in a sealed tin under reduced pressure. While thus packing in a partial vacuum undoubtedly retards oxidation and precludes escape of aroma from the original package, it would seem likely to hasten the initial volatilizing of the aroma. Also, it would appear from Gould's[179] work that roasted coffee evolves carbon dioxid until a certain positive pressure is attained, regardless of the initial pressure in the container. Accordingly, vacuum-packing apparently enhances decomposition of certain constituents of coffee. Whether this result is beneficial or otherwise is not quite clear.


The old-time boiling method of making coffee has gone out of style, because the average consumer is becoming aware of the fact that it does not give a drink of maximum efficiency. Boiling the ground coffee with water results in a large loss of aromatic principles by steam distillation, a partial hydrolysis of insoluble portions of the grounds, and a subsequent extraction of the products thus formed, which give a bitter flavor to the beverage. Also, the maintenance of a high temperature by the direct application of heat has a deleterious effect upon the substances in solution. This is also true in the case of the pumping percolator, and any other device wherein the solution is caused to pass directly into steam at the point where heat is applied. Warm and cold water extract about the same amount of material from coffee; but with different rates of speed, an increase in temperature decreasing the time necessary to effect the desired result.

It is a well known fact that re-warming a coffee brew has an undesirable effect upon it. This is very probably due to the precipitation of some of the water-soluble proteins when the solution cools, and their subsequent decomposition when heat is applied directly to them in reheating the solution. The absorption of air by the solution upon cooling, with attendant oxidation, which is accentuated by the application of heat in re-warming, must also be considered. It is likewise probable that when an extract of coffee cools upon standing, some of the aromatic principles separate out and are lost by volatilization.

The method of extracting coffee which gives the most satisfaction is practised by using a grind just coarse enough to retain the individualistic flavoring components, retaining the ground coffee in a fine cloth bag, as in the urn system, or on a filter paper, as in the Tricolator, and pouring water at boiling temperature over the coffee. During the extraction, a top should be kept on the device to minimize volatilization, and the temperature of the extract should be maintained constant at about 200° F. after being made. Whether a repouring is necessary or not is dependent upon the speed with which the water passes through the coffee, which in turn is controlled by the fineness of the grind and of the filtering medium.

The Water Extract

Although many analyses of the whole coffee bean are available, but little work has been reported upon the aqueous extracts. The total water extract of roasted coffee varies from 20 to 31 percent in different kinds of coffee. The following analysis of the extract from a Santos coffee may be taken as a fair average example of the water-soluble material.[180]

Table IV—Analysis of Santos Coffee Extract
(Dry Basis)
Ether extract, fixed 1.06%
Total nitrogen 1.06%
Caffein 1.06%
Crude fiber 1.06%
Total ash 1.06%
Reducing sugar 1.06%
Caffetannic acid 1.06%
Protein 1.06%

It is difficult to make the trade terms, such as acidity, astringency, etc., used in describing a cup of coffee, conform with the[Pg 169] chemical meanings of the same terms. However, a fair explanation of the cause of some of these qualities can be made. Careful work by Warnier[181] showed the actual acidities of some East India coffees to be:

Table V—Acidity of Some East India Coffees
Coffee from Acid Content
Sindjai 0.033%
Timor 0.028%
Bauthain 0.019%
Boengei 0.016%
Loewae 0.021%
Waloe Pengenten 0.018%
Kawi Redjo 0.015%
Palman Tjiasem 0.022%
Malang 0.013%

These figures may be taken as reliable examples of the true acid content of coffee; and though they seem very low, it is not at all incomprehensible that the acids which they indicate produce the acidity in a cup of coffee. They probably are mainly volatile organic acids, together with other acidic-natured products of roasting. We know that very small quantities of acids are readily detected in fruit juices and beer, and that variation in their percentage is quickly noticed, while the neutralization of this small amount of acidity leaves an insipid drink. Hence, it seems quite likely that this small acid content gives to the coffee brew its essential acidity. A few minor experiments on neutralization have proven that a very insipid beverage is produced by thus treating a coffee infusion.

The body, or what might be called the licorice-like character, of coffee, is due conceivably to the presence of bodies of a glucosidic nature and to caramel. Astringency, or bitterness, is dependent upon the decomposition products of crude fiber and chlorogenic acid, and upon the soluble mineral content of the bean. The degree to which a coffee is sweet-tasting or not is, of course, dependent upon its other characteristics, but probably varies with the reducing sugar content. Aside from the effects of these constituents upon cup quality, the influence of volatile aromatic and flavoring constituents is always evident in the cup valuation, and introduces a controlling factor in the production of an individualistic drink.

Coffee Extracts

The uncertainty of the quality of coffee brews as made from day to day, the inconvenience to the housewife of conducting the extraction, and the inevitable trend of the human race toward labor-saving devices, have combined their influences to produce a demand for a substance which will give a good cup of coffee when added to water. This gave rise to a number of concentrated liquid and solid "extracts of coffee," which, because of their general poor quality, soon brought this type of product into disrepute. This is not surprising; for these preparations were mainly mixtures of caramel and carelessly prepared extracts of chicory, roasted cereals, and cheap coffee.

Liquid extracts of coffee galore have appeared on the market only soon to disappear. Difficulty is experienced in having them maintain their quality over a protracted period of time, primarily due to the hydrolyzing action of water on the dissolved substances. They also ferment readily, although a small percentage of preservative, such as benzoate of soda, will halt spoilage.[182]

So much trouble is not encountered with coffee-extract powders—the so-called "soluble" or "instant" coffees. The majority of these powdered dry extracts do, however, show great affinity for atmospheric moisture. Their hygroscopicity necessitates packing and keeping them in air-tight containers to prevent them running into a solid, slowly soluble mass.

The general method of procedure employed in the preparation of these powders is to extract ground roasted coffee with water, and to evaporate the aqueous solution to dryness with great care. The major difficulty which seems to arise is that the heat needed to effect evaporation changes the character of the soluble material, at the same time driving off some volatile constituents which are essential to a natural flavor. Many complex and clever processes have been developed for avoiding these difficulties, and quite a number of patents on processes, and several on the resultant product, have been allowed; but the commercial production of a soluble coffee of freshly-brewed-coffee-duplicating-power is yet to be accomplished. However, there are now on the market several coffee-extract powders which dissolve readily in water, giving quite a fair approximation of freshly brewed coffee. The improvement shown[Pg 170] since they first appeared augurs well for the eventual attainment of their ultimate goal.

Adulterants and Substitutes

There would appear to be three reasons why substitutes for coffee are sought—the high cost, or absence, of the real product; the acquiring of a preferential taste, by the consumer, for the substitute; and the injurious effects of coffee when used to excess. Makers of coffee substitutes usually emphasize the latter reason; but many substitutes, which are, or have been, on the market, seem to depend for their existence on the other two. Properly speaking, there are scarcely any real substitutes for coffee. The substances used to replace it are mostly like it only in appearance, and barely simulate it in taste. Besides, many of them are not used alone, but are mixed with real coffee as adulterants.

The two main coffee substitutes are chicory and cereals. Chicory, succory, Cichorium Intybus, is a perennial plant, growing to a height of about three feet, bearing blue flowers, having a long tap root, and possessing a foliage which is sometimes used as cattle food. The plant is cultivated generally for the sake of its root, which is cut into slices, kiln-dried, and then roasted in the same manner as coffee, usually with the addition of a small proportion of some kind of fat. The preparation and use of roasted chicory originated in Holland, about 1750. Fresh chicory[183] contains about 77 percent water, 7.5 gummy matter, 1.1 of glucose, 4.0 of bitter extractive, 0.6 fat, 9.0 cellulose, inulin and fiber, and 0.8 ash. Pure roasted chicory[184] contains 74.2 percent water-soluble material, comprised of 16.3 percent water, 26.1 glucose, 9.6 dextrin and inulin, 3.2 protein, 16.4 coloring matter, and 2.6 ash; and 25.8 percent insoluble substances, namely, 3.2 percent protein, 5.7 fat, 12.3 cellulose, and 4.6 ash. The effect of roasting upon chicory is to drive off a large percentage of water, increasing the reducing sugars, changing a large proportion of the bitter extractives and inulin, and forming dextrin and caramel as well as the characteristic chicory flavor.

The cereal substitutes contain almost every type of grain, mainly wheat, rye, oats, buckwheat, and bran. They are prepared in two general ways, by roasting the grains, or the mixtures of grains, with or without the addition of such substances as sugar, molasses, tannin, citric acid, etc., or by first making the floured grains into a dough, and then baking, grinding, and roasting. Prior to these treatments, the grains may be subjected to a variety of other treatments, such as impregnation with various compounds, or germination. The effect of roasting on these grains and other substitutes is the production of a destructive distillation, as in the case of coffee; the crude fiber, starches, and other carbohydrates, etc., being decomposed, with the production of a flavor and an aroma faintly suggesting coffee.

The number, of other substitutes and imitations which have been employed are too numerous to warrant their complete description; but it will prove interesting to enumerate a few of the more important ones, such as malt, starch, acorns, soya beans, beet roots, figs, prunes, date stones, ivory nuts, sweet potatoes, beets, carrots, peas, and other vegetables, bananas, dried pears, grape seeds, dandelion roots, rinds of citrus fruits, lupine seeds, whey, peanuts, juniper berries, rice, the fruit of the wax palm, cola nuts, chick peas, cassia seeds, and the seeds of any trees and plants indigenous to the country in which the substitute is produced.

Aside from adulteration by mixing substitutes with ground coffee, and an occasional case of factitious molded berries, the main sophistications of coffee comprise coating and coloring the whole beans. Coloring of green and roasted coffees is practised to conceal damaged and inferior beans. Lead and zinc chromates, Prussian blue, ferric oxid, coal-tar colors, and other substances of a harmful nature, have been employed for this purpose, being made to adhere to the beans with adhesives. As glazes and coatings, a variety of substances have been employed, such as butter, margarin, vegetable oils, paraffin, vaseline, gums, dextrin, gelatin, resins, glue, milk, glycerin, salt, sodium bicarbonate, vinegar, Irish moss, isinglass, albumen, etc. It is usually claimed that coating is applied to retain aroma and to act as a clarifying agent; but the real reasons are usually to increase weight through absorption of water, to render low-grade coffees more attractive, to eliminate by-products, and to assist in advertising.

[Pg 171]


(Official and Tentative)

(Sole responsibility for any errors in compilation or printing of these methods is assumed by the author.)

Green Coffee

1. Macroscopic Examination—Tentative

A macroscopic examination is usually sufficient to show the presence of excessive amounts of black and blighted coffee beans, coffee hulls, stones, and other foreign matter. These can be separated by hand-picking and determined gravi-metrically.

2. Coloring Matters—Tentative

Shake vigorously 100 grams or more of the sample with cold water or 70 percent alcohol by volume. Strain through a coarse sieve and allow to settle. Identify soluble colors in the solution and insoluble pigments in the sediment.

Roasted Coffee

3. Macroscopic Examination—Tentative

Artificial coffee beans are apparent from their exact regularity of form. Roasted legumes and lumps of chicory, when present in whole roasted coffee, can be picked out and identified microscopically. In the case of ground coffee, sprinkle some of the sample on cold water and stir lightly. Fragments of pure coffee, if not over-roasted, will float; while fragments of chicory, legumes, cereals, etc., will sink immediately, chicory coloring the water a decided brown. In all cases identify the particles that sink by microscopical examination.

4. Preparation of Sample—Official

Grind the sample to pass through a sieve having holes 0.5 mm. in diameter and preserve in a tightly stoppered bottle.

5. Moisture—Tentative

Dry 5 grams of the sample at 105°—110°C. for 5 hours and subsequent periods of an hour each until constant weight is obtained. The same procedure may be used, drying in vacuo at the temperature of boiling water. In the case of whole coffee, grind rapidly to a coarse powder and weigh at once portions for the determination without sifting and without unnecessary exposure to the air.

6. Soluble Solids—Tentative

Place 4 grams of the sample in a 200-cc. flask, add water to the mark, and allow the mass to infuse for eight hours, with occasional shaking; let stand 16 hours longer without shaking, filter, evaporate 50 cc. of filtrate to dryness in a flat-bottomed dish, dry at 100° C., cool and weigh.

7. Ash—Official

Char a quantity of the substance, representing about 2 grams of the dry material, and burn until free of carbon at a low heat, not to exceed dull redness. If a carbon-free ash can not be obtained in this manner, exhaust the charred mass with hot water, collect the insoluble residue on a filter, burn till the ash is white or nearly so, and then add the filtrate to the ash and evaporate to dryness. Heat to low redness, until ash is white or grayish white, and weigh.

8. Ash Insoluble in Acid—Official

Boil the water-insoluble residue, obtained as directed under 9, or the total ash obtained as directed under 7, with 25 cc. of 10-percent hydrochloric acid (sp. gr. 1.050) for 5 minutes, collect the insoluble matter on a Gooch crucible or an ashless filter, wash with hot water, ignite and weigh.

9. Soluble and Insoluble Ash—Official

Heat 5 to 10 grams of the sample in a platinum dish of from 50 to 100 cc. capacity at 100° C. until the water is expelled, and add a few drops of pure olive oil and heat slowly over a flame until swelling ceases. Then place the dish in a muffle and heat at low redness until a white ash is obtained. Add water to the ash, in the platinum dish, heat nearly to boiling, filter through ash-free filter paper, and wash with hot water until the combined filtrate and washings measure to about 60 cc. Return the filter and contents to the platinum dish, carefully ignite, cool and weigh. Compute percentages of water-insoluble ash and water-soluble ash.

10. Alkalinity of the Soluble Ash—Official

Cool the filtrate from 9 and titrate with N/10 hydrochloric acid, using methyl orange as an indicator.

Express the alkalinity in terms of the number of cc. of N/10 acid per 1 gram of the sample.

11. Soluble Phosphoric Acid in the Ash—Official

Acidify the solution of soluble ash, obtained in 9, with dilute nitric acid and determine phosphoric acid (P2O5). For percentages up to 5 use an aliquot corresponding to 0.4 gram of substance, for percentages between 5 and 20 use an aliquot corresponding to 0.2 gram of substance, and for percentages above 20 use an aliquot corresponding to 0.1 gram of substance. Dilute to 75–100 cc., heat in a water-bath to 60°–65° C., and for percentages below 5 add 20–25 cc. of freshly filtered molybdate solution. For percentages between 5 and 20 add 30–35 cc. of molybdate solution. For percentages greater than 20 add sufficient molybdate solution to insure complete precipitation. Stir, let stand in the bath for about 15 minutes, filter at once, wash once or twice with water by decantation, using 25–30 cc. each time, agitate the precipitate thoroughly and allow to settle; transfer to the filter and wash with cold water until the filtrate from two fillings of the filter yields a pink color upon the addition of phenolphthalein and one drop of the standard alkali. Transfer the precipitate and filter to the beaker, or precipitating vessel, dissolve the precipitate in a small excess of the standard alkali, add a few drops of phenolphthalein solution, and titrate with the standard acid.

12. Insoluble Phosphoric Acid in the Ash—Official

Determine phosphoric acid (P2O5) in the Insoluble ash by the foregoing method.

13. Chlorides—Official

Moisten 5 grams of the substance in a platinum dish with 20 cc. of a 5-percent solution of sodium carbonate, evaporate to dryness and ignite as thoroughly as possible at a temperature not exceeding dull redness. Extract with hot water, filter and wash. Return the residue to[Pg 172] the platinum dish and ignite to an ash; dissolve in nitric acid, and add this solution to the water extract. Add a known volume of N/10 silver nitrate in slight excess to the combined solutions. Stir well, filter and wash the silver chloride precipitate thoroughly. To the filtrate and washings add 5 cc. of a saturated solution of ferric alum and a few cc. of nitric acid. Titrate the excess silver with N/10 ammonium or potassium thiocyanate until a permanent light brown color appears. Calculate the amount of chlorin.

14. Caffein—The Fendler and Stüber Method—Tentative

Pulverize the coffee to pass without residue through a sieve having circular openings 1 mm. in diameter. Treat a 10-gram sample with 10 grams of 10-percent ammonium hydroxid and 200 grams of chloroform in a glass-stoppered bottle and shake continuously by machine or hand for one-half hour. Pour the entire contents of the bottle on a 12.5-cm. folded filter, covering with a watch glass. Weigh 150 grams of the filtrate into a 250-cc. flask and evaporate on the steam bath, removing the last chloroform with a blast of air. Digest the residue with 80 cc. of hot water for ten minutes on a steam bath with frequent shaking, and let cool. Treat the solution with 20 cc. (for roasted coffee) or 10 cc. (for unroasted coffee) of 1-percent potassium permanganate and let stand for 15 minutes at room temperature. Add 2 cc. of 3-percent hydrogen peroxid (containing 1 cc. of glacial acetic acid in 100 cc.). If the liquid is still red or reddish, add hydrogen peroxid, 1 cc. at a time, until the excess of potassium permanganate is destroyed. Place the flask on the steam bath for 15 minutes, adding hydrogen peroxid in 0.5-cc. portions until the liquid becomes no lighter in color. Cool and filter into a separatory funnel, washing with cold water. Extract four times with 25 cc. of chloroform. Evaporate the chloroform extract from a weighed flask with aid of an air blast and dry at 100° C. to constant weight (one-half hour is usually sufficient). Weigh the residue as caffein and calculate on 7.5 grams of coffee. Test the purity of the residue by determining nitrogen and multiplying by 3.464 to obtain caffein.

15. Caffein—Power-Chestnut Method—Official

Moisten 10 grams of the finely powdered sample with alcohol, transfer to a Soxhlet, or similar extraction apparatus, and extract with alcohol for 8 hours. (Care should be exercised to assure complete extraction.) Transfer the extract with the aid of hot water to a porcelain dish containing 10 grams of heavy magnesium oxid in suspension in 100 cc. of water. (This reagent should meet the U.S.P. requirements.) Evaporate slowly on the steam bath with frequent stirring to a dry, powdery mass. Rub the residue with a pestle into a paste with boiling water. Transfer with hot water to a smooth filter, cleaning the dish with a rubber-tipped glass rod. Collect the filtrate in a liter flask marked at 250 cc. and wash with boiling water until the filtrate reaches the mark. Add 10 cc. of 10-percent sulphuric acid and boil gently for 30 minutes with a funnel in the neck of the flask. Cool and filter through a moistened double paper into a separatory funnel and wash with small portions of 0.5-percent sulphuric acid. Extract with six successive 25-cc. portions of chloroform. Wash the combined chloroform extracts in a separatory funnel with 5 cc. of 1-percent potassium hydroxid solution. Filter the chloroform into an Erlenmeyer flask. Wash the potassium hydroxid with 2 portions of chloroform of 10 cc. each, adding them to the flask together with the chloroform washings of the filter paper. Evaporate or distil on the steam bath to a small volume (10–15 cc.), transfer with chloroform to a tared beaker, evaporate carefully, dry for 30 minutes in a water oven, and weigh. The purity of the residue can be tested by determining nitrogen and multiplying by the factor 3.464.

16. Crude Fiber—Official

Prepare solutions of sulphuric acid and sodium hydroxid of exactly 1.25-percent strength, determined by titration. Extract a quantity of the substance representing about 2 grams of the dry material with ordinary ether, or use residue from the determination of the ether extract. To this residue in a 500-cc. flask add 200 cc. of boiling 1.25-percent sulphuric acid; connect the flask with a reflux condenser, the tube of which passes only a short distance beyond the rubber stopper into the flask, or simply cover a tall conical flask, which is well suited for this determination, with a watch glass or short stemmed funnel. Boil at once and continue boiling gently for thirty minutes. A blast of air conducted into the flask may serve to reduce the frothing of the liquid. Filter through linen, and wash with boiling water until the washings are no longer acid; rinse the substance back into the flask with 200 cc. of the boiling 1.25-percent solution of sodium hydroxid free, or nearly so, of sodium carbonate; boil at once and continue boiling gently for thirty minutes in the same manner as directed above for the treatment with acid. Filter at once rapidly, wash with boiling water until the washings are neutral. The last filtration may be performed upon a Gooch crucible, a linen filter, or a tared filter paper. If a linen filter is used, rinse the crude fiber, after washing is completed, into a flat-bottomed platinum dish by means of a jet of water; evaporate to dryness on a steam bath, dry to constant weight at 110° C., weigh, incinerate completely, and weigh again. The loss in weight is considered to be crude fiber. If a tared filter paper is used, weigh in a weighing bottle. In any case, the crude fiber after drying to constant weight at 110° C., must be incinerated and the amount of the ash deducted from the original weight.

17. Starch—Tentative

Extract 5 grams of the finely pulverized sample on a hardened filter with five successive portions (10 cc. each) of ether, wash with small portions of 95-percent alcohol by volume until a total of 200 cc. have passed through, place the residue in a beaker with 50 cc. of water, immerse the beaker in boiling water and stir constantly for 15 minutes or until all the starch is gelatinized; cool to 55° C., add 20 cc. of malt extract and maintain at this temperature for an hour. Heat again to boiling for a few minutes, cool to 55° C., add 20 cc. of malt extract and maintain at this temperature for an hour or until the residue treated with iodin shows no[Pg 173] blue color upon microscopic examination. Cool, make up directly to 250 cc., and filter. Place 200 cc. of the filtrate in a flask with 20 cc. of hydrochloric acid (sp. gr. 1.125); connect with a reflux condenser and heat in a boiling water bath for 2.5 hours. Cool, nearly neutralize with sodium hydroxid solution, and make up to 500 cc. Mix the solution well, pour through a dry filter and determine the dextrose in an aliquot. Conduct a blank determination upon the same volume of the malt extract as used upon the sample, and correct the weight of reduced copper accordingly. The weight of the dextrose obtained multiplied by 0.90 gives the weight of starch.

18. Sugars—Tentative

See original.[186]

19. Petroleum Ether Extract—Official

Dry 2 grams of coffee at 100° C., extract with petroleum ether (boiling point 35° to 50° C.) for 16 hours, evaporate the solvent, dry the residue at 100° C., cool, and weigh.

20. Total Acidity—Tentative

Treat 10 grams of the sample, prepared as directed under 4, with 75 cc. of 80-percent alcohol by volume in an Erlenmeyer flask, stopper, and allow to stand 16 hours, shaking occasionally. Filter and transfer an aliquot of the filtrate (25 cc. in the case of green coffee, 10 cc. in the case of roasted coffee) to a beaker, dilute to about 100 cc. with water and titrate with N/10 alkali, using phenolphthalein as an indicator. Express the result as the number of cc. of N/10 alkali required to neutralize the acidity of 100 grams of the sample.

21. Volatile Acidity—Tentative

Into a volatile acid apparatus introduce a few glass beads, and over these place 20 grams of the unground sample. Add 100 cc. of recently boiled water to the sample, place a sufficient quantity of recently boiled water in the outer flask and distil until the distillate is no longer acid to litmus paper. Usually 100 cc. of distillate will be collected. Titrate the distillate with N/10 alkali, using phenolphthalein as an indicator. Express the result as the number of cc. of N/10 alkali required to neutralize the acidity of 100 grams of the sample.

Unofficial Methods

22. Protein

Determine nitrogen in 3 grams of the sample by the Kjeldahl or Gunning method. This gives the total nitrogen due to both the proteids and the caffein. To obtain the protein nitrogen, subtract from the total nitrogen the nitrogen due to caffein, obtained by direct determination on the separated caffein or by calculation (caffein divided by 3.464 gives nitrogen). Multiply by 6.25 to obtain the amount of protein.

23. Ten Percent Extract—McGill Method

Weigh into a tared flask the equivalent of 10 grains of the dried substance, add water until the contents of the flask weigh 110 grams, connect with a reflux condenser and heat, beginning the boiling in 10 to 15 minutes. Boil for 1 hour, cool for 15 minutes, weigh again, making up any loss by the addition of water, filter, and take the specific gravity of the filtrate at 15° C.

According to McGill, a 10-percent extract of pure coffee has a specific gravity of 1.00986 at 15° C., and under the same treatment chicory gives an extract with a specific gravity of 1.02821. In mixtures of coffee and chicory the approximate percentage of chicory may be calculated by the following formula:

(1.02821 – sp. gr.)
Percent of chicory = 100 —————————

The index of refraction of the above solution may be taken with the Zeiss immersion refractometer or with the Abbe refractometer.

With a 10-percent coffee extract, nd 20° = 1.3377.

With a 10-percent chicory extract, nd 20° = 1.3448.

Determinations of the solids, ash, sugar, nitrogen, etc., may be made in the 10-percent extract, if desired.

24. Caffetannic Acid—Krug's Method[187]

Treat 2 grains of the coffee with 10 cc. of water and digest for 36 hours; add 25 cc. of 90-percent alcohol and digest 24 hours more, filter, and wash with 90-percent alcohol. The filtrate contains tannin, caffein, color, and fat. Heat the filtrate to the boiling point and add a saturated solution of lead acetate. If this is carefully done, a caffetannate of lead will be precipitated containing 49 percent of lead. As soon as the precipitate has become flocculent, collect on a tared filter, wash with 90-percent alcohol until free from lead, wash with ether, dry and weigh. The precipitate multiplied by 0.51597 gives the weight of the caffetannic acid.

Coffee Pot

[Pg 174]

Chapter XVIII


General physiological action—Effect on children—Effect on longevity—Behavior in the alimentary régime—Place in dietary—Action on bacteria—Use in medicine—Physiological action of "caffetannic acid"—Of caffeol—Of caffein—Effect of caffein on mental and motor efficiency—Conclusions

By Charles W. Trigg

Industrial Fellow of the Mellon Institute of Industrial Research, Pittsburgh, 1916–1920

The published information regarding the effects of coffee drinking on the human system is so contradictory in its nature that it is hazardous to make many generalizations about the physiological behavior of coffee. Most of the investigations that have been conducted to date have been characterized by incompleteness and a failure to be sufficiently comprehensive to eliminate the element of individual idiosyncrasy from the results obtained. Accordingly, it is possible to select statements from literature to the effect either that coffee is an "elixir of life," or even a poison.

This is a deplorable state of affairs, not calculated to promote the dissemination of accurate knowledge among the consuming public, but it may be partly excused upon the grounds that experimental apparatus has not always been at the level of perfection that it now occupies. Also, to do justice to some of the able men who have interested themselves in this problem, it should be said that some of their results were obtained in researches, distinguished by painstaking accuracy, which have effected the establishment of the major reactions of ingested coffee.

The Physiological Action of Coffee

Drinking of coffee by mankind may be attributed to three causes: the demand for, and the pleasing effects of, a hot drink (a very small percentage of the coffee consumed is taken cold), the pleasing reaction which its flavors excite on the gustatory nerve, and the stimulating effect which it has upon the body. The flavor is due largely to the volatile aromatic constituents, "caffeol," which, when isolated, have a general depressant action on the system; and the stimulation is caused by the caffein. The general and specific actions of these individual components, together with that of the hypothetical "caffetannic acid," are considered under separate headings.

Coffee may be considered a member of the general class of adjuvant, or auxiliary, foods to which other beverages and condiments of negligible inherent food value belong. Its position on the average menu may be attributed largely to its palatability and comforting effects. However, the medicinal value of coffee in the dietary and per se must not be overlooked.

The ingestion of coffee infusion is always followed by evidences of stimulation. It acts upon the nervous system as a powerful cerebro-spinal stimulant, increasing mental activity and quickening the power of perception, thus making the thoughts more precise and clear, and intellectual work easier without any evident subsequent depression. The muscles are caused to contract more vigorously, increasing their working power without there being any[Pg 175] secondary reaction leading to a diminished capacity for work. Its action upon the circulation is somewhat antagonistic; for while it tends to increase the rate of the heart by acting directly on the heart muscle, it tends to decrease it by stimulating the inhibitory center in the medulla.[188]

The effect on the kidneys is more marked, the diuretic effect being shown by an increase in water, soluble solids, and of uric acid directly attributable to the caffein content of the coffee taken. In the alimentary tract coffee seems to stimulate the oxyntic cells and slightly to increase the secretion of hydrochloric acid, as well as to favor intestinal peristalsis. It is difficult to accept reports of coffee accomplishing both a decrease in metabolism and an increase in body heat; but if the production of heat by the demethylation of caffein to form uric acid and a possible repression of perspiration by coffee be considered, the simultaneous occurrence of these two physiological reactions may be credited.

The disagreement of medical authorities over the physiological effects of coffee is quite pronounced. This may be observed by a careful perusal of the following statements made by these men. It will be noticed that the majority opinion is that coffee in moderation is not harmful. Just how much coffee a person may drink, and still remain within the limits of moderation and temperance, is dependent solely upon the individual constitution, and should be decided from personal experience rather than by accepting an arbitrary standard set by some one who professes to be an authority on the matter.

A writer in the British Homeopathic Review[189] says that "the exciting effects of coffee upon the nervous system exhibit themselves in all its departments as a temporary exaltation. The emotions are raised in pitch, the fancies are lively and vivid, benevolence is excited, the religious sense is stimulated, there is great loquacity.... The intellectual powers are stimulated, both memory and judgment are rendered more keen and unusual vivacity of verbal expression rules for a short time." He continues:

Hahnemann gives a characteristically careful account of the coffee headache. If the quantity of coffee taken be immoderately great and the body be very excitable and quite unused to coffee, there occurs a semilateral headache from the upper part of the parietal bone to the base of the brain. The cerebral membranes of this side also seem to be painfully sensitive, the hands and feet becoming cold, and sweat appears on the brows and palms. The disposition becomes irritable and intolerant, anxiety, trembling and restlessness are apparent.... I have met with headaches of this type which yielded readily to coffee and with many more in which the indicated remedy failed to act until the use of coffee as a beverage was abandoned. The eyes and ears suffer alike from the super-excitation of coffee. There is a characteristic toothache associated with coffee.

In apparent contradiction of this opinion, Dr. Valentin Nalpasse,[190] of the Faculty of Medicine of Paris, states:

When coffee is properly made and taken in moderation, it is a most valuable drink. It facilitates the digestion because it produces a local excitement. Its principal action gives clear and stable imaginative power to the brain. By doing that, it makes intellectual work easy, and, to a certain extent, regulates the functions of the brain. The thoughts become more precise and clear, and mental combinations are formed with much greater rapidity. Under the influence of coffee, the memory is sometimes surprisingly active, and ideas and words flow with ease and elegance.... Many people abuse coffee without feeling any bad effect.

Discussing the use and abuse of coffee, I.N. Love[191] says:

The world has in the infusion of coffee one of its most valuable beverages. It is a prompt diffusible stimulant, antiseptic and encourager of elimination. In season it supports, tides over danger, helps the appropriate powers of the system, whips up the flagging energies, enhances the endurance; but it is in no sense a food, and for this reason it should be used temperately.

Also Dr. Jonathan Hutchinson[192] makes the following weighty pronouncement:

In reference to my suggestion to give children tea and coffee. I may explain that it is done advisedly. There is probably no objection to their use even at early ages. They arouse the dull, calm the excitable, prevent headaches, and fit the brain for work. They preserve the teeth, keep them tight in their place, strengthen the vocal chords, and prevent sore throat. To stigmatize these invaluable articles of diet as "nerve stimulants" is an erroneous expression, for they undoubtedly have a right to rank as nerve nutrients.

But Dr. Harvey Wiley[193] comes forth with evidence on the other side, saying:

The effects of the excessive use of coffee, tea, and other natural caffein beverages is well known. Although the caffein is combined in these[Pg 176] beverages naturally, and they are as a rule taken at meal times, which mitigates the effects of the caffein, they are recognized by every one as tending to produce sleeplessness, and often indigestion, stomach disorders, and a condition which, for lack of a better term, is described as nervousness.... The excessive drinking of tea and coffee is acknowledged to be injurious by practically all specialists.

Dr. V.C. Vaughn,[194] of the University of Michigan, speaking of tea and coffee, expresses this opinion:

I believe that caffein used as a beverage and in moderation not only is harmless to the majority of adults, but is beneficial.

This verdict is upheld by the results of a symposium[195] conducted by the Medical Times, in which a large majority of the medical experts participating, among whom may be enumerated Drs. Lockwood, Wood, Hollingworth, Robinson, and Barnes, agreed that the drinking of coffee is not harmful per se, but that over-indulgence is the real cause of any ill effects. This is also true of any ingested material.

Insomnia is a condition frequently attributed to coffee, but that the authorities disagree on this ground is shown by Wiley's[196] contention, "We know beyond doubt that the caffein (in coffee) makes a direct attack on the nerves and causes insomnia." While Woods Hutchinson[197] observes:

Oddly enough, a cup of hot, weak tea or coffee, with plenty of cream and sugar, will often help you to sleep, for the grateful warmth and stimulus to the lining of the stomach, drawing the blood into it and away from the head, will produce more soothing effects than the small amount of caffein will produce stimulating and wakeful ones.

The writer has often had people remark to him that while black coffee sometimes kept them awake, coffee with cream or sugar or both made them drowsy.

In the course of experiments conducted by Montuori and Pollitzer[198] it was found that coffee prepared by hot infusion when given by mouth or hypodermically with the addition of a small dose of alcohol proved an efficient means of combating the pernicious effects of low temperatures. Coffee prepared by boiling, and tea, showed negative effects.

The value of coffee as a strength-conserver, and its function of increasing endurance, morale, and healthfulness, was demonstrated by the great stress which the military authorities, in the late and in previous wars, placed upon furnishing the soldiers with plenty of good coffee, particularly at times when they were under the greatest strain. Various articles[199] record this fact; and these statements are further borne out by the data given below in the discussion of the physiological effects of caffein, to which the majority of the stimulating effects of coffee may be attributed.

According to Fauvel,[200] with a healthy patient on a vegetable diet, chocolate and coffee increase the excretion of purins, diminishing the excretion of uric acid and apparently hindering the precipitation of uric acid in the organism. This diminution, however, was not due to retention of uric acid in the organism.

"Habit-forming" is one of the adjectives often used in describing coffee, but it is a fact that coffee is much less likely than alcoholic liquors to cause ill effects. A man rarely becomes a slave of coffee; and excessive drinking of this beverage never produces a state of moral irresponsibility or leads to the commission of crime. Dr. J.W. Mallet,[201] in testimony given before a Federal Court, stated that caffein and coffee were not habit-forming in the correct sense of the term. His definition of the expression is that the habit formed must be a detrimental and injurious one—one which becomes so firmly fixed upon a person forming it that it is thrown off with great difficulty and with considerable suffering, continuous exercise of the habit increasing the demand for the habit-forming drug. It is well known that the desire ceases in a very short period of time after cessation of use of caffein-containing beverages, so that in that sense, coffee is not habit-forming.

Men and Women Laborers Picking Coffee on a São Paulo Estate Men and Women Laborers Picking Coffee on a São Paulo Estate

Sacking Coffee in a Warehouse at the Port of Santos Sacking Coffee in a Warehouse at the Port of Santos

[Pg 177]

It has been shown by Gourewitsch[202] that the daily administration of coffee produces a certain degree of tolerance, and that the doses must be increased to obtain toxic results. Harkness[203] has been quoted as stating that "taken in moderation; coffee is one of the most wholesome beverages known. It assists digestion, exhilarates the spirits, and counteracts the tendency to sleep." Carl V. Voit,[204] the German physiological chemist, says this about coffee:

The effect of coffee is that we are bothered less by unpleasant experiences and become more able to conquer difficulties; therefore, for the feasting rich, it makes intestinal work after a meal less evident and drives away the deadly ennui; for the student it is a means to keep wide awake and fresh; for the worker it makes the day's fatigue more bearable.

Dr. Brady[205] believes that the so-called harmfulness of coffee is mainly psychological, as evidenced by his expression, "Most of the prejudice which exists against coffee as a beverage is based upon nothing more than morbid fancy. People of dyspeptic or neurotic temperament are fond of assuming that coffee must be bad because it is so good, and accordingly, denying themselves the pleasure of drinking it."

The recounting of evidence, both pro and con, relevant to the general effects of coffee could continue almost ad infinitum, but the fairest unification of the various opinions is best quoted from Woods Hutchinson[206]:

Somewhere from 1 to 3 percent of the community are distinctly injured or poisoned by tea or coffee, even small amounts producing burning of the stomach, palpitation of the heart, headache, eruptions of the skin, sensations of extreme nervousness, and so on; though the remaining 97 percent are not injured by them in any appreciable way if consumed in moderation.

So, if one is personally satisfied that he belongs to the abnormal minority, and has not been argued by fallacious reasoning into his belief that coffee injures him, he should either reduce his consumption of coffee or let it alone. Even those most vitally interested in the commercial side of coffee will admit that this is the logical procedure.

Effects of Coffee on Children

The same sort of controversy has raged around the question of the advisability of giving coffee to children as has occurred regarding its general action. Dr. J. Hutchinson[207] advocates furnishing children with coffee, while Dr. Charlotte Abbey[208] is strongly against such a practise, claiming that use of caffein-containing beverages before the attainment of full growth will weaken nerve power. Nalpasse[209] observes that until fully developed the young are immoderately excited by coffee; and Hawk[210] is of the opinion that to give such a stimulant to an active school-child is both logically and dietetically incorrect. Dr. Vaughn[211] advances this scientific argument against the drinking of coffee by children under seven years of age:

In proportion to body weight the young contain more of the xanthin bases than adults. They are already laden with these physiological stimulants, and the additional dose given in tea or coffee may be harmful.

In a study of the effects of coffee drinking upon 464 school children, C.K. Taylor[212] found a slight difference in mental ability and behavior, unfavorable to coffee. About 29 percent of these children drank no coffee; 46 percent drank a cup a day; 12 percent, 2 cups; 8 percent, 3 cups; and the remainder, 4 or more cups a day. The measurements of height, weight, and hand strength also showed a slight advantage in favor of the non-coffee drinkers. If these results be taken as truly representative, their indication is obvious. However, it seems desirable to repeat these experiments upon other groups; at the same time noting carefully the factors of environment, and other diet, before any criterion is made.

As a refutation to this experimental evidence is the practical experience of the inhabitants of the Island of Groix, off the Brittany coast, whose annual consumption of coffee is nearly 30 pounds per capita, being ingested both as the roasted bean and as an infusion. It is reported that many of the children are nourished almost entirely on coffee soup up to ten years of age, yet the mentality and physique of the populace does not fall below that of others of the same stock and educational opportunities.[213]

Pertinent in this connection is Hawk's[214] statement that young mothers should refrain from the use of coffee, as caffein stimulates the action of the kidneys and tends to bring about a loss from the body of some of the salts necessary to the development of the unborn child as well as for the proper production of milk during the nursing period. The caffein of coffee also increases the flow of milk, but the milk produced is correspondingly dilute and a later decreased secretion may be expected.[Pg 178] Furthermore, some of the caffein of the coffee may pass into the mother's milk, thus reaching the child, so that the use of coffee during the nursing period is undesirable on this ground also. Naturally, the question arises as to whether this arraignment is purely theoretical or based upon analytical and clinical data.

It is a difficult matter definitely to set an age below which coffee should not be drunk, as the time of reaching maturity varies with climate and ancestral origin. Yet, from a theoretical standpoint, children before or during the adolescent period should be limited to the use of a rather small amount of tea and coffee as beverages, as their poise and nerve control have not reached a stage of development sufficient to warrant the stimulation incident to the consumption of an appreciable quantity of caffein.

Coffee Drinking and Longevity

There are many who would have us believe that the use of coffee is only a means toward the end of quickly reaching the great beyond; but it is known that the habitual coffee drinker generally enjoys good health, and some of the longest-lived people have used it from their earliest youth without any apparent injury to their health. Nearly every one has an acquaintance who has lived to a ripe old age despite the use of coffee. Quoting Metchnikoff[215]:

In some cases centenarians have been much addicted to the drinking of coffee. The reader will recall Voltaire's reply when his doctor described the grave harm that comes from the abuse of coffee, which acts as a real poison. "Well", said Voltaire, "I have been poisoning myself for nearly eighty years." There are centenarians who have lived longer than Voltaire and have drunk still more coffee. Elizabeth Durieux, a native of Savoy, reached the age of 114. Her principal food was coffee, of which she took daily as many as forty small cups. She was jovial and a boon table companion, and used black coffee in quantities that would have surprised an Arab. Her coffee-pot was always on the fire, like the tea-pot in an English cottage (Lejoncourt, p. 84; Chemin, p. 147).

The entire matter resolves itself into one of individual tolerance, resistivity, and constitution. Numerous examples of young abstainers who have died and coffee drinkers who have still lived on can be found, and vice versa, the preponderance of instances being in neither direction. Bodies of persons killed by accident have been painstakingly examined for physiological changes attributable to coffee; but no difference between those of coffee and of non-coffee drinkers (ascertained by careful investigation of their life history) could be discerned.[216] In the long run, it is safe to say that the effect of coffee drinking upon the prolongation or shortening of life is neutral.

Coffee in the Alimentary Tract

When coffee is taken per os it passes directly to the stomach, where its sole immediate action is to dilute the previous contents, just as other ingested liquids do. Eventually the caffein content is absorbed by the system, and from thence on a stimulation is apparent. Considerable conjecture has occurred over the difference in the effects of tea and coffee, the most feasible explanation advanced being one appearing in the London Lancet.[217]

The caffein tannate of tea is precipitated by weak acids, and the presumption is that it is precipitated by the gastric juice and, therefore, the caffein is probably not absorbed until it reaches the alkaline alimentary tract. In the case of coffee, however, in whatever form the caffein may be present, it is soluble in both alkaline and acid fluids, and, therefore, the absorption of the alkaloid probably takes place in the stomach.

This theory, if true, goes far toward explaining the more rapid stimulation of coffee.

The statement has sometimes been made that milk or cream causes the coffee liquid to become coagulated when it comes into contact with the acids of the stomach. This is true, but does not carry with it the inference that indigestibility accompanies this coagulation. Milk and cream, upon reaching the stomach, are coagulated by the gastric juice; but the casein product formed is not indigestible. These liquids, when added to coffee, are partially acted upon by the small acid content of the brew, so that the gastric juice action is not so pronounced, for the coagulation was started before ingestion, and the coagulable constituent, casein, is more dilute in the cup as consumed than it is in milk. Accordingly, the particles formed by it in the stomach will be relatively smaller and more quickly and easily digested than milk per se. It has been observed that coffee containing milk or cream is not as stimulating as black coffee. The writer believes that[Pg 179] this is probably due to mechanical inclusion of caffein in the casein and fat particles, and also to some adsorption of the alkaloid by them. This would materially retard the absorption of the caffein by the body, spread the action over a longer period of time, and hence decrease the maximum stimulation attained.

In a few instances, a small fraction of one percent of coffee users, there is a certain type of distress, localized chiefly in the alimentary tract, caused by coffee, which can not be blamed upon the much-maligned caffein. The irritating elements may be generally classified as compounds formed upon the addition of cream or milk to the coffee liquor, volatile constituents, and products formed by hydrolysis of the fibrous part of the grounds. It may be generally postulated that the main causation of this discomfort is due to substances formed in the incorrect brewing of coffee, the effect of which is accentuated by the addition of cream or milk, when the condition of individual idiosyncrasy is present.

Without enlarging upon his reason, Lorand[218] concludes that neither tea nor coffee is advisable for weak stomachs. Nalpasse,[219] however, believes that coffee taken after meals makes the digestion more perfect and more rapid, augmenting the secretions, and that it agrees equally well with people inclined to embonpoint and heavy eaters whose digestion is slow and difficult. Thompson[220] also observes that coffee drunk in moderation is a mild stimulant to gastric digestion.

Eder[221] reported, as the result of an inquiry into the action of coffee on the activity of the stomachs of ruminants, that coffee infusions produced a transitory increase in the number and intensity of the movements of the paunch, but that the influence exercised was very irregular.

An elaborate investigation of the action of tea and coffee on digestion in the stomach was made by Fraser,[222] in which he found that both retard peptic digestion, the former to a greater degree than the latter. The digestion of white of egg, ham, salt beef, and roast beef was much less affected than that of lamb, fowl, or bread. Coffee seemed actually to aid the digestion of egg and ham. He attributed the retarding effect to the tannic acid of the tea and the volatile constituents of the coffee—the caffein itself favoring digestion rather than otherwise. Tea increased the production of gas in all but salt foods, whereas coffee did not. Coffee is, therefore, to be preferred in cases of flatulent dyspepsia.

Hutchinson, in his Food and Dietetics, opines:

As regards the practical inferences to be drawn from experiences and observations, it may be said that in health the disturbance of digestion produced by the infused beverages (tea and coffee) is negligible. Roberts, indeed, goes so far as to suggest that the slight slowing of digestion which they produce may be favored rather than otherwise, as tending to compensate for too rapid digestibility which refinements of manufacture and preparation have made characteristic of modern foods.

Regarding increase in secretory activity, Moore and Allanston[223] report that in their experience meat extracts, tea, caffein solution, and coffee call forth a greater gastric secretion than does water, while with milk the flow of gastric juice seems to be retarded. Cushing[224] and others support this statement. This action is partially explained by Voit on the grounds that all tasty foods increase gastric secretion, the action being partly psychological; but Cushing observed the same effects upon introducing coffee directly into the stomachs of animals.

In general, a moderate amount of coffee stimulates appetite, improves digestion and relieves the sense of plenitude in the stomach. It increases intestinal peristalsis, acts as a mild laxative, and slightly stimulates secretion of bile. Excessive use, however, profoundly disturbs digestive function, and promotes constipation and hemorrhoids.[225] There is much evidence to support the view that "neither tea, coffee, nor chicory in dilute solutions has any deleterious action on the digestive ferments, although in strong solutions such an action may be manifest."[226] After conducting exhaustive experiments with various types of coffee, Lehmann[227] concluded that ordinary coffee is without effect on the digestion of the majority of sound persons, and may be used with impunity.

[Pg 180]

Coffee in the Dietary—Food Value

There are three things to be considered in deciding upon the inclusion of a substance in the dietary—palatability, digestibility without toxicity or disarrangement, and calorific value. Coffee is as satisfactory from these viewpoints as any other food product.

The palatability of a well-made cup of good coffee needs no eulogizing; it speaks for itself. It adds enormously to the attractiveness of the meal, and to our ability to eat with relish and appetite large amounts of solid foods, without a subsequent uncomfortable feeling. Wiley[228] says that the feeling of drowsiness after a full meal is a natural condition incidental to the proper conduct of digestion, and that to drive away this natural feeling with coffee must be an interference with the normal condition. However, if by so doing, we can increase our over-all efficiency without material harm to our digestive organs (and we can and do), the procedure has much in its favor both psychologically and dietetically.

The fact that coffee favors digestion without eventual disarrangement has been demonstrated above. On the subject of the relative agreement with the constitution of foods of daily consumption, Dr. English[229] said:

It is well known that there is no species of diet which invariably suits all constitutions, nor will that which is palatable and salutary at one time be equally palatable and salutary at another time to the same individual. I think the most natural food provided for us is milk; yet I will engage to show twenty instances where milk disagrees more than coffee.

Further in this regard, Hutchinson[230] considers that ninety percent of the "dyspepsias" attributed to coffee are due to malnutrition, or to food simultaneously ingested, no disease known to the medical profession being directly attributable to it.

No one cognizant of the facts will contend that a cup of black coffee has any direct food value; but not so with the roasted bean. This has quite an appreciable content of protein and fat, both substances of high calorific value. The inhabitants of the Island of Groix eat the whole roasted coffee bean in considerable quantity, and seem to obtain considerable nourishment therefrom. Also, the Galla, a wandering tribe of Africa, make large use of food balls, about the size of billiard balls, consisting of pulverized coffee held in shape with fat. One ball is said to contain a day's ration; and, because of its food content and stimulating power, serves to sustain them on long marches of days' duration.

When an infusion, or decoction, of roasted coffee is made, about 1.25 percent of the extracted matter is protein, it being accompanied by traces of dextrin and sugar. The same dearth of extraction of food materials occurs upon infusing coffee substitutes. This small amount can have but little dietetic significance. However, upon addition of sugar and of milk or cream, with their content of protein, fat, and lactose, the calorific value of the cup of coffee rises. Lusk and Gephart[231] give the food value of an ordinary restaurant cup of coffee as 195.5 calories, and Locke[232] gives it as 156.

Mattei[233] found that 8 cc. of an infusion of roasted Mocha coffee of five-percent strength suppressed incipient polyneuritis in pigeons within a few hours' time. Their weight did not improve, but otherwise they were completely restored to health. However, in from four to six weeks after the apparent cure, the symptoms rapidly returned and the pigeons perished, with symptoms of paralysis and cerebral complications. The temporary cure was probably due to caffein stimulation and secondary actions of the volatile constituents of coffee, which may be related to the vitamines; for it is not likely that the vitamines would withstand the heat of roasting. If B-vitamine does occur in roasted coffee, it is present only in traces.[234]

The inclusion of coffee in the average dietary is warranted because of its evident worth as an aid to digestion and for its assimilating power, thus earning its characterization as an "adjuvant food."

Action of Coffee on Bacteria

The employment of coffee as an aid to sanitation has been but little considered. Coffee, when freshly roasted and ground, is deodorant, antiseptic, and germicidal, probably due to the empyreumatic products developed during the process of roasting. An infusion of 0.5 percent inhibits the growth of many pathogenic organisms, and[Pg 181] those of 10 percent kill anthrax bacteria in three hours, cholera spirilla in four hours, and many other bacteria, including those producing typhoid, in two to six days.[235]

The maintenance of a low rate of contraction of typhoid fever has often been attributed to drinking of coffee instead of water, the action of the coffee being partly due to the bactericidal effect of the caffeol and partly to the boiling of the water before infusion. The stimulating tendency of the caffein to sustain and to "tide over" those of low vitalities is also evidenced.

Use of Coffee in Medicine

Coffee has been employed in medicinal practise as a direct specific, as a preventive, and as an antidote. The United States Dispensatory[236] summarizes the uses of caffein and coffee as follows:

Caffein is a valuable remedy in practical medicine as a cerebral and cardiac stimulant and as a diuretic. In undue somnolence, in nervous headache, in narcotism, also, at times when the exigencies of life require excessively prolonged wakefulness, caffein may be used as the most powerful agent known for producing wakefulness. In a series of experiments, J. Hughes Bennett found that within narrow limits there is a direct physiological antagonism between caffein and morphine. Coffee and caffein in narcotic poisoning are of value as a means of keeping the patient awake, and of stimulating the respiratory centres.

As a cardiac stimulant, caffein may be used in any form of heart failure; the indications for its use are those which call for the employment of digitalis. It is superior to digitalis in never disagreeing with the stomach, in having no distinctive cumulative tendency, and in the promptness of its action. It is pronouncedly inferior to digitalis in the power and certainty of its action, and in the permanence of its influence once asserted. As a diuretic it is superior; it is very valuable in the treatment of cardiac dropsies, and is often useful in chronic Bright's disease when there is no irritation of the kidneys.

On account of its tendency to produce wakefulness, it is usually better to mass the doses early in the day, at least six hours being left between the last dose and the ordinary time for sleep. From eight to fifteen grams (of caffein) may be given in the course of a day in severe cases. If tried, it would probably prove a useful drug in cases of sudden collapse from various causes.

Good effects of coffee are recounted by Thompson.[237]

It removes the sensation of fatigue in the muscles, and increases their functional activity; it allays hunger to a limited extent; it strengthens the heart action; it acts as a diuretic, and increases the excretion of urea; it has a mildly sudorific influence; it counteracts nervous exhaustion and stimulates nerve centers. It is used sometimes as a nervine in cases of migraine, and there are many persons who can sustain prolonged mental fatigue and strain from anxiety and worry much better by the use of strong black coffee. In low delirium, or when the nervous system is overcome by the use of narcotics or by excessive hemorrhage, strong black coffee is serviceable to keep the patient from falling into the drowsiness which soon merges into coma. In such cases as much as half a pint of strong black coffee may be injected into the rectum.

Strong coffee with a little lemon juice or brandy is often useful in overcoming a malarial chill or a paroxysm of asthma. It is a useful temporary cardiac stimulant for children suffering collapse.

Dr. Restrepo,[238] of Medellin, Colombia, claims to have cured many cases of chronic malaria and related diseases with infusion of green coffee, after quinine had failed. Wallace[239] states that tincture of green coffee is a natural and efficacious specific for cholera, and that she knows of more than a thousand eases of cholera and diarrhea which have been treated with it without an isolated case of failure. Landanabileo has been quoted as using raw coffee infusion in hepatic and nephritic diseases, venal and hepatic colics, and in diabetes.

In the Civil War, surgeons utilized coffee in allaying malarial fever and other maladies with which they had to contend, often under the most trying conditions, and with severely limited means of combating disease.[240] Its effect is to counteract the depressant action of low and miasmatic atmospheres, opening the secretions which they have checked. Travelers from the colder climes soon find that the fragrant cup of coffee is a corrective to derangements of the liver resulting from climatic conditions.[241]

Dr. Guillasse, of the French Navy, in a paper on typhoid fever, says:

Coffee has given us unhoped for satisfaction, and after having dispensed it we find, to our great surprise, that its action is as prompt as it is decisive. No sooner have our patients taken a few tablespoonfuls of it, than their features become relaxed and they come to their senses. The next day the improvement is such that we are tempted to look upon coffee as a specific against typhoid fever. Under its influence the stupor is dispelled, and the patient arouses from[Pg 182] the state of somnolency in which he has been since the invasion of the disease. Soon all the functions take their natural course, and he enters upon convalescence.[242]

Also it has been reported that in extreme cases of yellow fever, coffee has been used most effectively by many physicians as the main reliance after all other well known remedies have been administered and failed.

According to Lorand,[243] the use of coffee in gout is strictly prohibited by Umber and Schittenhelm; but he considered it a mistake absolutely to forbid coffee, as, when a person has good kidneys, the small amount of uric acid furnished by the caffein can readily be eliminated. A curious remedy for gout and rheumatism, the efficacy of which the writer scouts, is said to be[244]—a pint of hot, strong, black coffee, which must be perfectly pure, and seasoned with a teaspoonful of pure black pepper, thoroughly mixed before drinking, and the preparation taken just before going to bed. If this has any value, it is probably purely psychological in its function.

Several writers[245] attribute amblyopia and other affections of the sight to coffee and chicory, without giving much conclusive experimental data. Beer,[246] a Vienna oculist, however, held that the vapor from pure, hot, freshly-made coffee is beneficial to the eyes.

Coffee and caffein are physiologically antagonistic to the common narcotics, nicotine, morphine, opium, alcohol, etc., and are frequently used as antidotes for these poisons. Binz found that dogs that have been stupified with alcohol could be awakened with coffee. It may thus be prescribed for hard drinkers to counteract the baleful excitability produced by alcohol; in fact, many topers taper off after a long debauch with coffee containing small amounts of alcoholic beverages. Considering its ability to counteract the slow intoxication of tobacco, it may be inferred that coffee is indispensable for hard smokers.

In general, the medicinal value of coffee may be said to be directly attributable to its caffein content, although its antiseptic properties are dependent upon the volatile aromatic constituents. Its function is to raise and to sustain vitalities which have been lowered by disease or drugs. Although some of the cures attributed to it are probably purely traditional; still, it must be admitted, that by utilizing its stimulating qualities in many illnesses the patient may be carried past the danger point into convalescence.

Physiological Action of "Caffetannic Acid"

It has been demonstrated in chapter XVII that there is no definite compound "caffetannic acid," and that the heterogeneous material designated by this name does not possess the properties of tanning. Further substantiation of this contention, and more evidence of the innocuous character of the tannin-like compounds in coffee, are contained in the testimony of Sollmann.[247] "Tannins precipitate proteins, gelatine, and connective tissue, and thus act as astringents, styptics, and antiseptics. The different tannins are not equivalent in these respects. Some (which are perhaps misnamed) such as those of coffee and ipecac, are practically non-precipitant.... On the whole, one may say that the small quantities of tannin ordinarily taken with the food and drink are not injurious, but that large quantities (excessive tea drinking) are certainly deleterious. The tannin of coffee is scarcely astringent, and, therefore, lacks this action," which is proven by the fact that it does not precipitate proteins.

"It has been claimed that 'caffetannic acid' injures the stomach walls, but there is no evidence that this is so."[248] Wiley,[249] in reporting some of his experiments, says: "Apparently the efforts to saddle the injurious effects of coffee-drinking upon caffetannic acid in any form in which it may exist in the coffee-extract are not supported by these recent data." The fact that tannins retard intestinal peristalsis, whereas coffee promotes this digestive action, lends further proof to the non-existence of tannin in coffee. These statements by eminent authorities may be consolidated into the verity that there is no tannin, in the true sense of the term, in coffee; and that the constituents of the coffee brew which have been so designated are physiologically harmless.

[Pg 183]

Physiological Action of Caffeol

The evidence regarding the physiological action of caffeol is contradictory in many cases. J. Lehmann found in 1853, that the "empyreumatic oil of coffee, caffeone," is active; but more recent investigations have yielded results at variance with this. Hare and Marshall[250] believe that they proved it to be active. E.T. Reichert,[251] however, found it inactive in dogs, excepting in so far that, when given intravenously, it mechanically interfered with the circulation. With it Binz[252] was able to produce in man only feeble nervous excitement, with restlessness and increase in the rate and depth of respirations.

The general effects, as summated by Sollmann[253] are, for small doses, pleasant stimulation; increased respiration; increased heart rate, but fall of blood pressure; muscular restlessness; insomnia; perspiration; congestion; for large doses, increased peristalsis and defecation; depression of respiration and heart; fall of blood pressure and temperature; paralytic phenomena. It is doubtful whether the quantities taken in the beverage cause any direct central stimulation.

Investigations have also been conducted with the various known constituents of this "coffee oil." Erdmann[254] found that in doses of between 0.5 and 0.6 gram per kilo of body weight, furane-alcohol kills a rabbit by respiratory paralysis; and that the symptoms of poisoning are a short primary excitement, salivation, diarrhea, respiratory depression, continuous fall of the body temperature, and death from collapse with respiratory failure. In man, doses of from 0.6 to 1 gram of furane-alcohol increased respiratory activity without producing other symptoms.

However, man is not as susceptible to these compounds as are the smaller animals. But even if their relative susceptibility be assumed to be the same, the lethal dose given the rabbit is equivalent to giving a 140-pound man one dose containing the furane-alcohol content of over 5,000 cups of coffee. Thus, in view of the very apparent minuteness of the quantity of this compound present in one cup of coffee, together with the fact that it is not cumulative in its physiological action, the importance of its toxic properties becomes very inconsequential to even the most profuse and inveterate coffee drinkers.

Burmann[255] reported the volatile principle to have a reducing action on the hemoglobin; a depressing effect on the blood pressure; a depressant action on the central nervous system, disturbing the cardiac rhythm; and an action on the respiratory centers, causing dyspnea. The report of Sayre[256] regarding the minimum lethal dose of the concentrated combined active principles of coffee obtained from dry distillation is, for frogs, administered intraperitoneally and subcutaneously, 0.03 cubic centimeters per gram of body weight; for guinea pigs per stomach, 7.0 cc. per kilogram of body weight, and administered intravenously and intraperitoneally, about 1.0 cc. per kilogram.

This evidence regarding the physiological action of caffeol can not in any wise be construed to indicate a harmfulness of coffee. The percentage of these volatile substances in a cup of coffee infusion is so low as to be relatively negligible in its action. And, again, the caffein content of the brew, as will be seen, tends to counteract any possible desultory effects of the caffeol.

General Physiological Action of Caffein

More attention has been given to the study of the physiological action of caffein than to that of the other individual constituents of coffee. Since certain of the effects of coffee drinking have been attributed to this alkaloid, a brief presentment of the pharmacology of caffein will be given as an exposition of the many statements made regarding it. According to the British Pharmaceutical Codex[257]:

Caffein exerts three important actions: (1) on the central nervous system: (2) on muscles, including cardiac: and (3) on the kidney. The action on the central nervous system is mainly on that part of the brain connected with psychical functions. It produces a condition of wakefulness and increased mental activity. The interpretation of sensory impressions is more perfect and correct, and thought becomes clearer and quicker. With larger doses of caffein the action extends from the psychical areas to the motor area and to the cord, and the patient becomes at first restless and noisy, and later may show convulsive movements.

Caffein facilitates the performance of all forms of physical work, and actually increases the total work which can be obtained from[Pg 184] muscle. On the normal man, however, it is impossible to say how much of the action on the muscle is central and how much peripheral, but, as fatigue shows itself first by an action on the center, it is probable that the action of caffein in diminishing fatigue is mainly central. Caffein accelerates the pulse and slightly raises blood pressure. It has no action in any way resembling digitalis; by increasing the irritability of the cardiac muscle, its prolonged use rather tends to fatigue than to rest the heart.

Caffein and its allies form a very important group of diuretics. The urine is generally of a lower specific gravity than normal, since it contains a lesser proportion of salt and urea; but the total excretion of solids, both as regards urea, uric acid, and salts, is increased. Caffein, by exciting the medulla, produces an initial vaso-constriction of the kidneys, which tends at first to retard the flow of urine. So in recent years, other drugs have been introduced, allies of caffein, which act like it on the kidneys, but are without the stimulant action on the brain. Theobromine is such a drug.

Another authority states that[258]:

One of the most constant symptoms produced in man by over-doses of caffein is excessive diuresis, and experiments made upon the lower animals show that caffein acts as a diuretic not only by influencing the circulation, but also by directly affecting the secreting cells, the probabilities being in favor of the first of these theories of action. According to Schroeder, not only the water but also the solids of the urine are increased.

The question whether caffein has an influence upon tissue changes and the consequent nitrogenous elimination can not be considered as distinctly answered, though the most probable conclusion is that the action of caffein upon urea elimination and upon general nutrition is not direct or pronounced. While the therapeutic dose of caffein is broken up in the body with the formation of methylxanthin, which escapes with the urine, the toxic dose is at least in part eliminated by the kidney unchanged.

The metabolism of the methyl purins, of which group caffein is a member, appears to vary with the quantity ingested. The manner in which the methyl group is liberated by the cell protoplasm is said[259] to determine the amount of stimulus which the tissues receive from these substances. The xanthin group is almost without any excitatory action, and its metabolic end products are constant. Perhaps the variation in the excretions of unchanged methylpurins is dependent upon the amount of total reactive energy they invoke.

Baldi[260] found that caffein in small doses increases muscular excitability in dogs and frogs. The spinal and muscular hyperic excitability produced by caffein is, in his opinion, due to the methyl groups attached to the xanthin nucleus. Fredericq[261] states that caffein increases the irritability of the cardiac vagus and accelerates the appearance of pseudofatigue of the vagus which is produced by prolonged stimulation of the nerve. The action of caffein on the mammalian heart has also been investigated by Pilcher,[262] who found that, following the rapid intravenous injection of caffein, there is an acute fall of blood pressure; and with a maximal quantity of caffein, 10 milligrams per kilogram, the cardiac volume and the amplitude of the excursions are usually unchanged. With larger quantities, the volume progressively increases and the amplitude of the excursion decreases.

Salant[263] found that the intravenous injection of 15 to 25 milligrams of caffein per kilogram in animals was followed by a fall of blood pressure amounting to 7 to 35 percent in most cases, which was transitory, although in some animals it remained unchanged. A moderate rise was rarely observed. Caffein aids the action of nitrates, acetanilid, ethyl alcohol and amyl alcohol, and increases the toxicity of barium chloride. In a very thorough study of the toxicity of caffein which he made with Reiger,[264] a greater toxicity of about 15 to 20 percent by subcutaneous injection than by mouth, and but about one-half this when injected peritoneally, was found. Intramuscularly the toxicity is 30 percent greater than subcutaneously. In making the tests on animals, they found that individuality, season, age, species, and certain pathological conditions caused variation in the toxic effect of the administered caffein. Low protein diet tends to decrease resistance to caffein in dogs, and a milk or meat diet does the same for growing dogs. Caffein is not cumulative for the rabbit or dog.

As a result of experiments on the action of caffein on the bronchiospasm caused by peptone (Witte), silk peptone, B-imidoazolyl-ethylamin, curare, vasodilation, and mucarin, Pal[265] concluded that caffein stimulates certain branches of the peripheral sympathetic and is thus enabled to widen the bronchi or remove bronchiospasm.

According to Lapicque[266], caffein produces a change in the excitability of the medulla of the frog similar to that produced by raising[Pg 185] the temperature of the nerve centers. Schürhoff[267] has pointed out that the continued use of large quantities of caffein will produce cardiac irregularity and sleeplessness.

Cochrane[268] cited three cases where caffein was hypodermically administered in cases of acute indigestion, etc., and concluded that the cases prove that caffein, or a compound containing it as a synergist, does indirectly make the injection of morphia a safe proceeding, and directly increases the force of the heart and arterial tension. However, Wood[269] found that medium doses of caffein do not produce any marked rise in blood pressure, and cause a reduction in pulse rate. He attributes the contradictory results which prior investigations gave, to employment of unusually large doses and to inaccurate experimental methods.

Caffein was found by Nonnenbruch and Szyszka[270] to have a slight action toward accelerating the coagulation time of the blood, being active over several hours. It inhibits coagulation in vitrio. Its action in the body apparently rests on an increase of the fibrin ferment. There is no reason to believe that the behavior is dependent on a toxic action, but there is probably an action on the spleen; for in several rabbits from which the spleen was removed, no action was observed.

Experiments conducted by Levinthal[271] gave no positive information as to the formation of uric acid from caffein in the human organism. The elimination of caffein has also been studied by Salant and Reiger[272], who found that larger amounts of caffein are demethylated in carnivora than in herbivora, and resistance to caffein is inversely as demethylation, caffein being much more toxic in the former class. In a similar investigation, Zenetz[273] observed that caffein is very slightly eliminated from the system by the kidneys, and that its action on the heart is cumulative; therefore he concludes that it is contra-indicated in all renal diseases, in arterio-sclerosis, and in cardiac affections secondary to them. The inaccuracy of these conclusions regarding the non-elimination of caffein and those of Albanese,[274] Bondzynski and Gottlieb[275], Leven[276], Schurtzkwer[277], and Minkowski[278], has been shown by Mendel and Wardell[279], who point out that many of these experimenters worked with dogs, in which the chief end-product of purin metabolism is not uric acid, but allantoin. They observe that the increase in excretion of uric acid after the addition of caffein to the diet seems to be proportional to the quantity of caffein taken, and equivalent to from 10 to 15 percent of the ingested caffein. The remainder of the caffein is probably eliminated as mono-methylpurins.

Regarding the alleged cumulative action of caffein, Pletzer[280], Liebreich,[281] Szekacs[282], Pawinski,[283] and Seifert[284] all concluded from their investigations that the action of caffein is usually of brief duration, and does not have a cumulative effect, because of its rapid elimination; so that there is no danger of intoxication.

Dr. Oswald Schmiedeberg says:

Caffein is a means of refreshing bodily and mental activity, so that this may be prolonged when the condition of fatigue has already begun to produce restraint, and to call for more severe exertion of the will, a state which, as is well known, is painful or disagreeable.

This advantageous effect, in conditions of fatigue, of small quantities of caffein, as it is commonly taken in coffee or tea, might, however, by continued use become injurious, if it were in all cases necessarily exerted; that is to say, if by caffein the muscles and nerves were directly spurred on to increased activity. This is not the case, however, and just in this lies the peculiarity of the effect in question. The muscles and the simultaneously-acting nerves only under the influence of caffein respond more easily to the impulse of the will, but do not develop spontaneous activity; that is, without the co-operation of the will.

The character of caffein action makes plain that these food materials do not injure the organism by their caffein content, and do not by continued use cause any chronic form of illness.

According to Dr. Hollingworth's[285] deductions, caffein is the only known stimulant that quickens the functions of the human[Pg 186] body without a subsequent period of depression. His explanation for this behavior is that "caffein acts as a lubricator for the nervous system, having an actual physical action whereby the nerves are enabled to do their work more easily. Other stimulants act on the nerves themselves, causing a waste of energy, and consequently, according to nature's law, a period of depression follows, and the whole process tends to injure the human machine." In not a single instance during his experiments at Columbia University did depression follow the use of caffein.

Of course, caffein, like any other alkaloid, if used to excess will prove harmful, due to the over-stimulation induced by it. However, taken in moderate quantities, as in coffee and tea by normal persons, the conclusions of Hirsch[286] may be taken as correct, namely: caffein is a mild stimulant, without direct effect on the muscles, the effect resulting from its own destruction and being temporary and transitory; it is not a depressant either initially or eventually; and is not habit-forming but a true stimulant, as distinguished from sedatives and habit-forming drugs.

Caffein and Mental and Motor Efficiency

The literature on the influence of caffein on fatigue has been summarized, and the older experiments clearly pointed out, by Rivers[287]. A summary of the most important researches which have had as their object the determination of the influence of caffein on mental and motor processes has been made by Hollingworth[288], from whose monograph much of the following material has been taken.

Increase in the force of muscular contractions was demonstrated in 1892 by De Sarlo and Barnardini[289] for caffein and by Kraepelin for tea. These investigators used the dynamometer as a measure of the force of contraction; however, most of the subsequent work on motor processes has been by the ergographic method. Ugolino Mosso[290], Koch[291]. Rossi[292], Sobieranski[293], Hoch and Kraepelin,[294] Destrée,[295] Benedicenti,[296] Schumberg,[297] Hellsten,[298] and Joteyko,[299] have all observed a stimulating effect of caffein on ergographic performance. Only one investigation of those reported by Rivers failed to find an appreciable effect, that of Oseretzkowsky and Kraepelin,[300] while Feré[301] affirms that the effect is only an acceleration of fatigue.

In spite of the general agreement as to the presence of stimulation there is some dissension regarding whether only the height of the contractions or their number or both are affected. As might be expected from the great diversity of methods employed, the quantitative results also have varied considerably. Carefully controlled experiments by Rivers and Webber[302] "confirm in general the conclusion reached by all previous workers that caffein stimulates the capacity for muscular work; and it is clear that this increase is not due to the various psychical factors of interest, sensory stimulation, and suggestion, which the experiments were especially designed to exclude. The greatest increase ... falls, however, far short of that described by some previous workers, such as Mosso; and it is probable that part of the effect described by these workers was due to the factors in question."

Investigations of mental processes under the influence of caffein have been much less frequent, most notable among which are those of Dietl and Vintschgau,[303] Dehio,[304] Kraepelin and Hoch,[305] Ach,[306] Langfeld,[307] and Rivers.[308] Kraepelin[309] observes: "We know that tea and coffee increase our mental efficiency in a definite way, and we use these as a means of overcoming mental fatigue ... In the morning these drinks remove the last traces of sleepiness and in the evening when we still have intellectual tasks to dispose of they aid in keeping us awake." Their use induces a greater briskness and clearness of thought, after[Pg 187] which secondary fatigue is either entirely absent or is very slight.

Tendency toward habituation of the pyschic functions to caffein has been studied by Wedemeyer[310], who found that in the regular administration of it in the course of four to five weeks there is a measurable weakening of its action on psychic processes.

Rivers[311], who seems to have been the first to appreciate fully the genuine and practical importance of thoroughly controlling the psychological factors that are likely to play a rôle in such experiments, concludes that "caffein increases the capacity for both muscular and mental work, this stimulating action persisting for a considerable time after the substance has been taken without there being any evidence, with moderate doses, of reaction leading to diminished capacity for work, the substance thus really diminishing and not merely obscuring the effects of fatigue."

Effect of Caffein on Mental and Motor Processes
Schematic Summary of All Results
St.=Stimulation. 0=No effect. Ret.=Retardation.
Process Tests Small
Action Time
in Hours
Motor speed 1. Tapping St. St. St. None .75–1.5 2–4
Coordination 2. Three-hole St. 0 Ret. None 1–1.5 3–4
  3. Typewriting  
  (a) Speed St. 0 Ret. None Results show only in total
days' work
  (b) Errors Fewer for all doses None
Association 4. Color-naming St. St. St. None 2–2.5 3–4
  5. Opposites St. St. St. None 2.5–3 Next day
  6. Calculation St. St. St. None 2.5 Next day
Choice 7. Discrimination reaction time Ret. 0 St. None 2–4 Next day
  8. Cancellation Ret. ? St. None 3–5 No data
  9. S-W illusion 0 0 0  
General 10. Steadiness ? Unsteadiness None 1–3 3–4
  11. Sleep quality Individual differences
depending on body weight
and conditions of
  12. Sleep quantity   2 ?  
  13. General health  

Subsequent to these investigations was that of Hollingworth[312] which is at once the most comprehensive, carefully conducted, and scientifically accurate one yet performed. He employed an ample number of subjects in his experimentation; and both his subjects, and the assistants who recorded the observations, were in no wise cognizant of the character or quantity of the dose of caffein administered, the other experimental conditions being similarly rigorous and extensive.

The purpose of his study was to determine both qualitatively and quantitatively the effect of caffein on a wide range of mental and motor processes, by studying the performance of a considerable number of individuals for a long period of time, under controlled conditions; to study the way in which this influence is modified by such factors as the age, sex, weight, idiosyncrasy, and previous caffein habits of the subjects, and the degree to which it depends on the amount of the dose and the time and conditions of its administration; and to investigate the influence of caffein on the general health, quality and amount of sleep, and food habits of the individual tested.

To obtain this information the chief tests employed were the steadiness, tapping, coordination, typewriting, color-naming, calculations, opposites, cancellation, and discrimination tests, the familiar size-weight illusion, quality and amount of sleep, and general health and feeling of well-being. A brief review of the results of these tests is given in the tabular summary.

From these Hollingworth concluded that caffein influenced all the tests in a given group in much the same way. The effect on motor processes comes quickly and is transient, while the effect on higher mental processes comes more slowly and is more persistent. Whether this result is due to quicker reaction on the part of motor-nerve centers, or whether it is due to a direct peripheral effect on the muscle tissue is uncertain, but the indications are that caffein has a direct action on the muscle tissue, and that this effect is fairly rapid in appearance. The two principal factors which seem to modify the degree of caffein influence are body weight and presence of food in the stomach at the time of ingestion of the caffein. In practically all of the tests the magnitude of the caffein influence varied inversely with the body weight, and was most marked when taken on an empty stomach or without food substance. This variance in action was also true for both[Pg 188] the quality and amount of sleep, and seemed to be accentuated when taken on successive days; but it did not appear to depend on the age, sex, or previous caffein habits of the individual. Those who had given up the use of caffein-containing beverages during the experiment did not report any craving for the drinks as such, but several expressed a feeling of annoyance at not having some sort of a warm drink for breakfast.

It is interesting to note that he also found a complete absence of any trace of secondary depression or of any sort of secondary reaction consequent upon the stimulation which was so strikingly present in many of the tests. The production of an increased capacity for work was clearly demonstrated, the same being a genuine drug effect, and not merely the effect of excitement, interest, sensory stimulation, expectation, or suggestion. However, this study does not show whether this increased capacity comes from a new supply of energy introduced or rendered available by the drug action, or whether energy already available comes to be employed more effectively, or whether fatigue sensations are weakened and the individual's standard of performance thereby raised. But they do show that from a standpoint of mental and productive physical efficiency "the widespread consumption of caffeinic beverages, even under circumstances in which and by individuals for whom the use of other drugs is stringently prohibited or decried, is justified."


Brief summarization of the information available on the pharmacology of coffee indicates that it should be used in moderation, particularly by children, the permissible quantity varying with the individual and ascertainable only through personal observation. Used in moderation, it will prove a valuable stimulant increasing personal efficiency in mental and physical labor. Its action in the alimentary régime is that of an adjuvant food, aiding digestion, favoring increased flow of the digestive juices, promoting intestinal peristalsis, and not tanning any portion of the digestive organs. It reacts on the kidneys as a diuretic, and increases the excretion of uric acid, which, however, is not to be taken as evidence that it is harmful in gout. Coffee has been indicated as a specific for various diseases, its functions therein being the raising and sustaining of low vitalities. Its effect upon longevity is virtually nil. A small proportion of humans who are very nervous may find coffee undesirable; but sensible consumption of coffee by the average, normal, non-neurasthenic person will not prove harmful but beneficial.

Coffee Pot

[Pg 189]

Chapter XIX


The geographical distribution of the coffees grown in North America, Central America, South America, the West India Islands, Asia, Africa, the Pacific Islands, and the East Indies—A statistical study of the distribution of the principal kinds—A commercial coffee chart of the world's leading growths, with market names and general trade characteristics

A study of the geographical distribution of the coffee tree shows that it is grown in well-defined tropical limits. The coffee belt of the world lies between the tropic of cancer and the tropic of capricorn. The principal coffee consuming countries are nearly all to be found in the north temperate zone, between the tropic of cancer and the arctic circle.

The leading commercial coffees of the world are listed in the accompanying commercial coffee chart, which shows at a glance their general trade character. The cultural methods of the producing countries are discussed in chapter XX; statistics in chapter XXII; and the trade characteristics, in detail, in chapter XXIV, which considers also countries and coffees not so important in a commercial sense. Mexico is the principal producing country in the northern part of the western continent, and Brazil in the southern part. In Africa, the eastern coast furnishes the greater part of the supply; while in Asia, the Netherlands Indies, British India, and Arabia lead.

Within the last two decades there has been an expansion of the production areas in South America, Africa, and in southeastern Asia; and a contraction in British India and the Netherlands Indies.

The Shifting Coffee Currents of the World

Seldom does the coffee drinker realize how the ends of the earth are drawn upon to bring the perfected beverage to his lips. The trail that ends in his breakfast cup, if followed back, would be found to go a devious and winding way, soon splitting up into half-a-dozen or more straggling branches that would lead to as many widely scattered regions. If he could mount to a point where he could enjoy a bird's-eye view of these and a hundred kindred trails, he would find an intricate criss-cross of streamlets and rivers of coffee forming a tangled pattern over the tropics and reaching out north and south to all civilized countries. This would be a picture of the coffee trade of the world.

It would be a motion picture, with the rivulets swelling larger at certain seasons, but seldom drying up entirely at any time. In the main the streamlets and rivers keep pretty much the same direction and volume one year after another, but then there is also a quiet shifting of these currents. Some grow larger, and others diminish gradually until they fade out entirely. In one of the regions from which they take their source a tree disease may cause a decline; in another, a hurricane may lay the industry low at one quick stroke; and in still another, a rival crop may drain away the life-blood of capital. But for the most part, when times are normal, the shift is gradual; for international trade is conservative, and likes to run where it finds a well-worn channel.

[Pg 190]

In recent times, of course, the big disturbing element in the coffee trade was the World War. Whole countries were cut out of the market, shipping was drained away from every sea lane, stocks were piled high in exporting ports, prices were fixed, imports were sharply restricted, and the whole business of coffee trading was thrown out of joint. To what extent has the world returned to normal in this trade? Were the stoppages in trade merely temporary suspensions, or are they to prove permanent? How are the old, long-worn channels filling up again, now that the dams have been taken away?

We are now far enough removed from the war to begin to answer these questions. We find our answer in the export figures of the chief producing countries, which for the most part are now available in detail for one or two post-war years. These figures are given in the tables below; and for comparison, there are also given figures showing the distribution of exports in 1913 and in an earlier year near the beginning of the century. These figures, of course, do not necessarily give an accurate index to normal trade; as in any given year some abnormal happening, such as an exceptionally large crop or a revolution, may affect exports drastically as compared with years before and after. But normally the proportions of a country's exports going to its various customers are fairly constant one year after another, and can be taken for any given year as showing approximately the coffee currents of that period.

The figures following are for the calendar year unless the fiscal year is indicated. Where figures could not be obtained from the original statistical publications, they have been supplied as far as possible from consular reports.

Brazil. The war naturally increased the dependence of Brazil on its chief customer, and the proportion of the total crop coming to this country since the war has continued to be large. Shipments to United States ports in 1920 represented about fifty-four percent of the total exports. Figures for that year indicate also that France and Belgium were working back to their normal trade; but that Spain, Great Britain, and the Netherlands were taking much less coffee than in the year just before the war. Germany was buying strongly again, her purchases of 72,000,000 pounds being about half as much as in 1913. Shipments to Italy were four times as heavy as in 1913. The natural return to normal was much interfered with by speculation and valorization. Brazil seems to have come through the cataclysmic period of the war in better style than might have been expected.

Coffee Exports from Brazil
Exported to 1900
United States 566,686,345 650,071,337 826,425,340
France 78,408,862 244,295,282 203,694,212
Great Britain 6,442,739 32,559,715 9,597,378
Germany 235,131,881 246,767,144 72,196,934
Aus.-Hungary 71,696,556 134,495,310  
Netherlands 102,711,887 196,169,240 49,760,767
Italy 17,559,107 31,364,656 132,543,798
Spain 868,617 14,407,906 6,057,833
Belgium 41,500,638 58,858,562 42,309,469
Other countries 59,432,882 145,896,327 181,796,919
  —————— —————— ——————
Total 1,180,439,514 1,754,885,479 1,524,382,650

The 1900 figures are for the ports of Rio, Santos, Bahia, and Victoria.

"Other countries" in 1913 included Argentina, 32,941,182 pounds; Sweden, 28,045,737 pounds; Cape Colony, 15,930,731 pounds; Denmark, 6,252,931 pounds. In 1920 they included Argentina, 37,736,498 pounds; Sweden, 51,026,591 pounds; Denmark, 18,764,483 pounds; Cape Colony, 26,936,653 pounds.

Venezuela. Venezuela's coffee trade was deeply affected by the war; both because the Germans were prominent in the industry, and because the regular shipping service to Europe was discontinued. Large amounts of coffee were piled up at the ports and elsewhere; and when the restrictions were swept away in 1919, an abnormal exportation resulted. Although Germany had been one of the chief buyers before the war, Venezuela was by no means dependent on the German market. In fact, her combined shipments to France and the United States, just before the war, were three times as great as her exports to Germany. These two countries took two-thirds of her total exports in 1920. Spain and the Netherlands were also prominent buyers.

Coffee Exports from Venezuela
Exported to 1906
United States 35,704,398 45,570,268 43,670,191
France 21,748,370 46,413,174 4,647,978
Germany 5,270,814 32,203,972 546,363
Aus.-Hungary 289,851 3,015,723  
Spain 3,133,012 7,372,839 15,210,756
Netherlands 28,549,920 2,903,806 1,836,209
Italy 315,293 2,805,948 719,850
Great Britain 404,720 98,796 1,518,175
Other countries 2,663,507 1,631,143 5,577,110
  ————— ————— —————
Total 98,079,885 142,015,669 73,726,632

[Pg 191]

The World's Leading Growths, with Market Names and General Trade Characteristics
Grand Division Country Principal Shipping
Best Known
Market Names
Trade Characteristics
North America Mexico Vera Cruz Coatepec
Greenish to yellow
bean; mild flavor.
Central America Guatemala Puerto Barrios Cobán
Waxy, bluish bean;
mellow flavor.
Salvador La Libertad Santa Ana
Santa Tecla
Smooth, green bean;
neutral flavor.
Costa Rica Puerto Limon Costa Ricas Blue-greenish bean;
mild flavor.
West Indies Haiti Cape Haitien Haiti Blue bean; rich, fairly
acid; sweet flavor.
Santo Domingo Santo Domingo Santo Domingo Flat, greenish-yellow
bean; strong flavor.
Jamaica Kingston Blue Mountain Bluish-green bean;
rich, full flavor.
Porto Rico Ponce Porto Ricans Gray-blue bean;
strong, heavy flavor.
South America Colombia Savanilla Medellin
Manizales, Bogota
Greenish-yellow bean;
rich, mellow flavor.
Venezuela La Guaira
Greenish-yellow bean;
mild, mellow flavor.
Brazil Santos Santos Small bean; mild flavor.
Rio de Janeiro Rio Large bean; strong cup.
Asia Arabia Aden Mocha Small, short, green
to yellow bean;
unique, mild flavor.
India Madras
Coorg (Kurg)
Small to large,
blue-green bean;
strong flavor.
East India Islands Malay States Penang (Geo't'n)
Liberian, Robusta
Liberian and Robusta
growths from Malaysia.
Sumatra Padang Mandheling
Ayer Bangies
Large, yellow to
brown bean; heavy
body; exquisite flavor.
Java Batavia Preanger
Cheribon, Kroe
Small, blue to yellow
bean; light in cup.
Celebes Menado
Minahassa Large, yellow bean;
aromatic cup.
Africa Abyssinia Jibuti Harar
Large, blue to yellow
bean; very like Mocha.
Pacific Islands Hawaiian
Honolulu Kona
Large, blue, flinty
bean; mildly acid.
Philippines Manila Manila Yellow and brown large
bean; mild cup.

[Pg 192]

Colombia. Colombian statistics of foreign trade are issued very irregularly, and no figures are available to afford comparison between pre-war and post-war trade. The figures below, however, will show the comparative amounts of coffee going to the chief buying countries at different periods. From these it will be seen that the countries mainly interested in the trade in Colombian coffee are those prominent in the trade in other tropical American sections. England, France, Germany, and the United States took the great bulk of the exports. A consular report written after the outbreak of the war says:

Prior to the war the United States took about seventy percent of Colombia's coffee crop; the remainder being about equally divided between England, France, and Germany, with England taking the largest share.

Coffee Exports from Colombia[A]
(From Barranquilla only)
Exported to 1899
Great Britain 22,573,828 7,268,429 442,026
France 6,873,722 496,120 1,685,454
Germany 9,348,028 8,568,131 ———
United States 17,991,500 43,518,704 134,292,858
Other countries ——— 7,396,385 23,753,678
  ————— ————— ——————
Total 56,787,078 67,247,769 160,174,016

[A] These figures are taken from a consular report, which gave statistics only for the port of Barranquilla and did not include the total shipments from that port. Shipments from Cartagena, the only other exporting port of any consequence, amounted to 7,836,505 pounds, destination not stated. The Barranquilla figures, in the absence of official statistics, can be taken as fairly representative of the total trade so far as destination is concerned. They are for fiscal years, ending June 30.

"Other countries" in 1916 included Italy, 1,135,137 pounds; Venezuela, 20,564,321 pounds; Dutch West Indies, 400,132 pounds.

Central America. The three largest producing countries of Central America, Guatemala, Salvador, and Costa Rica, were all closely linked to Germany by the coffee trade before the war. German capital was heavily invested in coffee plantations; German houses had branches in the principal cities; and German ships regularly served the chief ports. Accordingly, when the blockade became effective, these countries were placed in a difficult position. But fortunately for them, a special effort had been made shortly before by Pacific-coast interests in the United States to divert a part of the coffee trade to San Francisco[313] The market to the east being shut off, these countries turned naturally to the north. This trade with the United States has apparently been firmly established, and there has not yet been much of a return to German ports.

Guatemala. Of the three countries named, Guatemala was the most heavily involved in German trade. In 1913 she sent to Germany 53,000,000 pounds of coffee, a fifth more than in 1900. Her shipments of more than 10,000,000 pounds to the United Kingdom were about the same as at the beginning of the century. The war turned both these currents into United States ports, and they continued to flow in that direction through 1920. The figures follow:

Coffee Exports from Guatemala
Exported to 1900
Germany 44,416,064 53,232,910 452,206
United States 14,057,120 21,188,444 78,226,508
United Kingdom 11,467,680 10,666,604 2,341,217
Other countries 3,041,584 6,641,936 13,185,638
  ————— ————— —————
Total 72,982,448 91,729,894 94,205,569

"Other countries" in 1913 included Austria-Hungary, 4,205,400 pounds; Netherlands, 407,900 pounds. In 1920, they included Netherlands, 10,355,625 pounds; Sweden, 422,421 pounds; Norway, 57,408 pounds; Spain, 97,519 pounds; France, 27,956 pounds.

Salvador. Salvador is one of the countries in which the publication of foreign-trade statistics has been irregular in the past, and none is available to show the full trade in coffee at the beginning of the century. A consular report gives figures for the first half of 1900. The most recent statistics show that the United States still holds much of the trade gained during the war, although Salvador is sending to Scandinavian countries many millions of pounds of her coffee that came to the United States in war-time.

Coffee Exports from Salvador
Exported to 1900 (1st 6 mos.)
United States 6,700,101 10,779,655 46,262,256
France 22,948,712 15,955,920 6,686,714
Germany 6,607,892 12,120,133 813,166
Great Britain 4,396,465 3,415,187 4,226,061
Italy 4,322,003 9,538,976 ———
Aus.-Hungary 1,335,626 3,557,482 ———
Belgium 210,834 5,508 3,104
Spain 24,799 377,729 364,296
Other countries 3,920 7,193,107 24,509,071
  ————— ————— —————
Total 46,550,352 62,943,697 82,864,668

"Other countries" in 1913 included Norway, 2,070,220 pounds; Sweden, 2,238,332 pounds; Netherlands, 738,694 pounds; Chile, 609,441 pounds; Russia, 95,625 pounds; Denmark, 140,665 pounds. In 1920, they included Norway, 10,726,375 pounds; Chile, 1,772,346 pounds; Netherlands, 1,071,614 pounds; Sweden, 9,635,947 pounds; Denmark, 1,061,772 pounds.

A Flourishing Coffee Estate in Chiapas, Mexico A Flourishing Coffee Estate in Chiapas, Mexico

Laborers Bringing in the Day's Pickings, Near Bogota, Colombia Laborers Bringing in the Day's Pickings, Near Bogota, Colombia

[Pg 193]

Costa Rica. English, French, and German capital was heavily invested in Costa Rica before the war, and all three nations were interested in the coffee trade. For many years England had maintained the lead as a coffee customer, and shipments continued in large volume after the war. The following figures are for the crop year ending September 30:

Coffee Exports from Costa Rica
Exported to 1903
United States 6,388,236 1,625,866 14,137,605
Great Britain 27,756,661 23,464,827 13,418,527
France 1,241,816 741,548 313,538
Germany 2,676,841 2,581,055 376,649
Other countries 147,925 288,521 1,155,066
  ————— ————— —————
Total 38,211,479 28,701,817 29,401,385

In 1900 total shipments were 35,496,055 pounds, of which 20,587,712 pounds went to Great Britain; 8,874,014 pounds to the United States; and 3,904,566 pounds to Germany.

"Other countries" in 1903 included Spain, 49,189 pounds; Italy, 4,104 pounds. In 1921, they included Netherlands, 837,496 pounds; Spain, 308,308 pounds; Chile, 9,259 pounds.

Mexico. Mexico has naturally sent most of her coffee across the border into the United States, and she continued to do so during and after the war. But she had worked up a very important trade with Europe, chiefly with Germany; and German capital, and German planters and merchants were prominent in the industry. France and England also were interested in the trade, and purchased annually several million pounds. During the war, as shown by the exports in its final year, this trade almost entirely ceased, and the United States and Spain remained as the only consumers of Mexican coffee. Details of the after-war trade are not yet available in published statistics. In the following table, 1900 and 1918 are calendar years, and 1913 is a fiscal year.

Coffee Exports from Mexico
Exported to 1900
United States 28,882,954 28,012,655 23,816,044
Germany 10,074,001 10,461,382 ———
Aus.-Hungary 163,934 30,864 ———
Belgium 25,855 39,722 ———
Spain 546,132 184,941 6,184,494
France 3,927,294 4,482,011 ———
Netherlands 220,607 46,296 ———
Great Britain 3,848,605 2,170,669 ———
Cuba 467,201 37,921 171,527
Italy 157,653 347,758 ———
Other countries ——— 655,073 ———
  ————— ————— —————
Total 48,314,236 46,469,292 30,172,065

In 1913 "other countries" included Panama, 342,131 pounds; Canada, 276,567 pounds; Sweden, 3,079 pounds; British Honduras, 33,179 pounds; Denmark, 112 pounds.

Jamaica. The French, more than any other peoples in Europe, have cultivated a taste for coffee from the West Indies; and France normally has led all other countries in shipments from the larger producing islands, including Jamaica, although the island is a British possession. In the year before the war, France bought nearly 4,000,000 pounds of Jamaican coffee, more than half the total production. In the year 1900–01 also she took about 4,000,000 pounds, leading all other countries. This trade was very much cut down during the war, but was not wiped out. As shown in the figures for 1918, England largely took the place of France in that year, and Canada increased her purchases several hundred percent.

Coffee Exports from Jamaica
Exported to 1901 (fis. yr.)
Great Britain 1,849,456 671,440 6,919,808
Canada 109,536 263,872 1,819,328
United States 2,976,512 802,032 643,888
France 3,958,304 3,743,264 729,120
Aus.-Hungary 104,272 303,296 ———
Cuba 114,800 ——— ———
Barbados ——— 226,464 26,992
Other countries 508,704 507,248 97,440
  ———— ———— —————
Total 9,621,584 6,517,616 10,236,576

"Other countries" in 1901 included British West Indies, 316,512 pounds. In 1913, they included Netherlands, 125,216 pounds; Norway, 28,896 pounds; Sweden, 70,224 pounds; Italy, 46,592 pounds; Australia, 71,456 pounds.

Haiti. Prior to the taking over of the administration of the customs of Haiti by the United States, detailed statistics of the exports are almost wholly lacking. France took most of the annual production, continuing a trade that dated back to old colonial times. An American consular report says:

Before the war there was no market for Haitian coffee in the United States, practically the entire crop going to Europe, with France as the largest consumer. However, there has been for some time past a determined effort made to create a demand in the United States, and this is said to be meeting with ever-increasing success.

The actual success achieved can be measured by the following figures for the fiscal year ended September 30, 1920:

[Pg 194]

Coffee Exports from Haiti
Exported to Pounds
United States 27,647,077
France 23,921,083
Great Britain 39,583
Other countries 10,362,351
Total 61,970,094

These figures do not include 6,322,167 pounds of coffee triage, or waste, of which the United States took 2,028,352 pounds; France, 1,491,507 pounds.

Dominican Republic. The comparatively small production of the Dominican Republic was divided among the United States and three or four European countries before the war. Since the war the exports have been scattered among the former customers in varying amounts. Germany is again a buyer, although her purchases have not come back to anything like the pre-war level.

Coffee Exports from the Dominican Republic
Exported to 1906
United States 564,291 506,456 529,831
France 569,215 1,248,418 454,165
Germany 1,562,193 327,843 69,224
Italy [B] 195,294 51,543
Cuba [B] 25,628 132,569
Great Britain [B] 660 54,114
Other countries 221,028 8,154 70,220
  ———— ———— ————
Total 2,916,727 2,312,453 1,361,666

[B] No shipments, or included in "other countries."

"Other countries" in 1920 included only the Netherlands.

Porto Rico. In spite of several attempts on the part of Porto-Rican planters to make their product popular in the markets of the United States, the American consumer has never found the taste of that coffee to his liking. The big market for the Porto-Rican product has been Cuba, which has depended on her neighbor for most of her supply. This demand takes a large part of the annual crop, including the lower grades. The better grades, before the war, went largely to Europe, mostly to the Latin countries. During the war, the Cuban market carried the Porto-Rican planters through, although shipments of considerable size continued to go to France and Spain. Recovery of the pre-war trade with Europe, however, has been slow, Spain being the only country to take over 1,000,000 pounds in 1920. Shipments to that country totaled 3,472,204 pounds; those to France, 900,868 pounds. Both countries increased their purchases considerably in 1921.

Coffee Exports from Porto Rico
Exported to 1900–01 (fis. yr.)
United States 29,565 628,843 211,531
France 3,348,025 6,020,170 1,625,065
Spain 2,590,096 6,851,235 5,705,932
Aus.-Hungary 386,158 6,729,726 ———
Germany 493,891 876,315 363,993
Belgium 9,964 25,867 234,019
Italy 611,033 3,498,157 43,484
Netherlands 8,860 497,938 25,199
Sweden 32,390[C] 633,046 266,550
Cuba 4,633,538 23,179,690 21,135,397
Other countries 13,720 393,586 356,709
  ————— ————— —————
Total 12,157,240 49,334,573 29,967,879

[C] Includes Norway.

Hawaii. The war disarranged Hawaii's coffee trade very little, as she had for many years been shipping chiefly to continental United States. Recently a considerable trade with the Philippines has developed.

Coffee Exports from Hawaii
Exported to 1900–02 (fis. yr.)
United States 1,082,994 3,393,009 4,183,046
Canada 77,900 10,200 11,355
Japan 24,155 49,167 23,950
Germany 2,100 1,612 ———
Philippines [D] 932,640 747,700
Other countries 23,349 49,179 13,070
  ———— ———— ————
Total 1,210,498 4,435,807 4,979,121

[D] No exports, or included in "other countries."

Aden. Lying on the edge of the war area and on the road to India, Aden felt the full force of the disarrangement of commercial traffic by the war. Ordinarily, Aden is not only the chief outlet for the coffee of the interior of Arabia—the original "Mocha"—but it is also the transhipping point for large amounts from Africa and India. The figures given below relate for the most part to this transhipped coffee. Exports of coffee from Aden go chiefly to the United Kingdom, France, and the United States, and to other ports of Arabia and Africa. Before the war no great proportion went to the Central Powers. The following figures apply to fiscal years ending March 31:

Coffee Exports from Aden
Exported to 1901 (fis. yr.)
1914 (fis. yr.)
1921 (fis. yr.)
Great Britain 1,563,632 696,976 466,928
United States 2,412,368 4,300,128 2,507,344
France 3,789,296 2,975,840 814,016
Egypt 1,024,576 ——— 3,108,336
Arab. Gulf Pts. 860,160 852,320 606,592
Germany 247,184 465,136 ———
Aus.-Hungary 341,152 ——— 553,952
Italy 197,568 811,664 7,504
Br. Somaliland 280,224 23,408 ———
[E] Africa 337,344 2,390,640 292,880
Other countries 1,114,848 2,500,456 1,659,504
  ————— ————— ————
Total 12,168,352 15,570,520 9,463,104

[E] Including adjacent islands, but exclusive of British territory.

"Other countries" in 1914 included Australia, 222,320 pounds; Perim, 142,016 pounds; Zanzibar, 148,848 pounds; Mauritius,[Pg 195] 154,672 pounds; Seychelles, 116,704 pounds; Sweden, 118,720 pounds; Norway, 49,168 pounds; Russia, 196,448 pounds. In 1921, they included Denmark, 120,624 pounds; Spain, 124,208 pounds; Massowah, 410,704 pounds.

British India. As India's trade before the war was chiefly with the mother country, with France, and with Ceylon, the return to normal has been rapid. In the year following the war, these three customers were again credited with the largest amounts exported from India, except for shipments to Greece, which took little before the war. The following figures are for the fiscal years ending March 31:

Coffee Exports from British India
Exported to 1901 (fis. yr.)
1914 (fis. yr.)
1920 (fis. yr.)
Great Britain 15,678,768 10,343,536 8,138,144
Ceylon 1,088,528 1,428,112 1,423,072
France 8,430,016 10,924,816 9,256,352
Belgium 617,792 1,021,664 ———
Germany 126,560 1,033,088 25,312
Aus.-Hungary 123,312 1,358,896 8,400
Italy 23,968 22,624 30,912
United States 54,096 ——— 16,576
Turkey in Asia 232,176 501,984 986,720
[F]Africa 118,272 113,344 619,696
Other countries 1,106,784 2,360,736 10,021,648
  ————— ————— —————
Total 27,600,272 29,108,800 30,526,832

[F] Including adjacent islands.

"Other countries" in 1914 included Netherlands, 238,560 pounds; Australia, 748,608 pounds; Bahrein Islands, 757,568 pounds. In 1920, they included Greece, 6,487,376 pounds; Australia, 481,152 pounds; Bahrein Islands, 1,081,696 pounds; Aden and dependencies, 459,984 pounds; other Arabian ports, 890,176 pounds.

Dutch East Indies. The war played havoc with the coffee trade of the Dutch East Indies, taking away shipping, closing trade routes, and causing immense quantities of coffee to pile up in the warehouses. When the war ended, this coffee was released; and trade was consequently again abnormal, although in the opposite direction from that it took during war years. The 1920 figures indicate that the trade is working back into its old channels.

Coffee Exports From Dutch East Indies
Exported to 1900
Netherlands 81,489,000 33,323,748[H] [H]50,028,815
Great Britain 88,000 981,201 5,987,598
France 2,560,000 9,081,715[H] 5,410,582
Aus.-Hungary 1,153,000 996,988 ———
Germany 71,000 997,715[H] 75,699
Egypt 5,494,000 104,868 1,418,313
United States 8,408,000 5,695,180 17,274,522
Singapore 9,952,000 4,785,580 8,349,415
Other countries 2,965,000 7,831,732 10,475,509
  ————— ————— —————
Total 112,180,000 63,798,727 99,020,453

[G] These figures cover only Java and Madura.

[H] Includes shipments "for orders."

"Other countries" in 1920 included, Norway, 2,606,421 pounds; Sweden, 728,580 pounds; Australia, 1,553,495 pounds; British India, 1,912,541 pounds; Italy, 1,964,109 pounds; Denmark, 1,191,643 pounds; Belgium, 166,092 pounds.

Coffee Pot

[Pg 196]


[Pg 197]

Chapter XX


The early days of coffee culture in Abyssinia and Arabia—Coffee cultivation in general—Soil, climate, rainfall, altitude, propagation, preparing the plantation, shade and wind breaks, fertilizing, pruning, catch crops, pests, and diseases—How coffee is grown around the world—Cultivation in all the principal producing countries

For the beginnings of coffee culture we must go back to the Arabian colony of Harar in Abyssinia, for here it was, about the fifteenth century, that the Arabs, having found the plant growing wild in the Abyssinian highlands, first gave it intensive cultivation. The complete story of the early cultivation of coffee in the old and new worlds is told in chapter II, which deals with the history of the propagation of the coffee plant.

La Roque[314] was the first to tell how the plant was cultivated and the berries prepared for market in Arabia, where it was brought from Abyssinia.

The Arabs raised it from seed grown in nurseries, transplanting it to plantations laid out in the foot-hills of the mountains, to which they conducted the mountain streams by ingeniously constructed small channels to water the roots. They built trenches three feet wide and five feet deep, lining them with pebbles to cause the water to sink deep into the earth with which the trenches were filled, to preserve the moisture from too rapid evaporation. These were so constructed that the water could be turned off into other channels when the fruit began to ripen. In plantations exposed to the south, a kind of poplar tree was planted along the trenches to supply needful shade.

La Roque noted that the coffee trees in Yemen were planted in lines, like the apple trees in Normandy; and that when they were much exposed to the sun, the shade poplars were regularly introduced between the rows.

Such cultivation as the plant received in early Abyssinia and Arabia was crude and primitive at best. Throughout the intervening centuries, there has been little improvement in Yemen; but modern cultural methods obtain in the Harar district in Abyssinia.

Like the Arabs in Yemen, the Harari cultivated in small gardens, employing the same ingenious system of irrigation from mountain springs to water the roots of the plants at least once a week during the dry season. In Yemen and in Abyssinia the ripened berries were sun-dried on beaten-earth barbecues.

The European planters who carried the cultivation of the bean to the Far East and to America followed the best Arabian practise, changing, and sometimes improving it, in order to adapt it to local conditions.

Coffee Cultivation in General

Today the commercial growers of coffee on a large scale practise intensive cultivation methods, giving the same care to preparing their plantations and maintaining their trees as do other growers of grains and fruits. As in the more advanced methods of arboriculture, every effort is made to obtain the maximum production of quality coffee consistent with the smallest outlay of money and labor. Experimental stations in various parts of the world are constantly working to improve methods and[Pg 198] products, and to develop types that will resist disease and adverse climatic conditions.

While cultivation methods in the different producing countries vary in detail of practise, the principles are unchanging. Where methods do differ, it is owing principally to local economic conditions, such as the supply and cost of labor, machinery, fertilizers, and similar essential factors.

Implements Used in Early Arabian Coffee Culture Implements Used in Early Arabian Coffee Culture
1, Plow. 2 and 3, Mattocks. 4, Hatchet and sickle. Top, Seeder Implement

Soil. Rocky ground that pulverizes easily—and, if possible, of volcanic origin—is best for coffee; also, soil rich in decomposed mold. In Brazil the best soil is known as terra roxa, a topsoil of red clay three or four feet thick with a gravel subsoil.

Climate. The natural habitat of the coffee tree (all species) is tropical Africa, where the climate is hot and humid, and the soil rich and moist, yet sufficiently friable to furnish well drained seed beds. These conditions must be approximated when the tree is grown in other countries. Because the trees and fruit generally can not withstand frost, they are restricted to regions where the mean annual temperature is about 70° F., with an average minimum about 55°, and an average maximum of about 80°. Where grown in regions subject to more or less frost, as in the northernmost parts of Brazil's coffee-producing district, which lie almost within the south temperate zone, the coffee trees are sometimes frosted, as was the case in 1918, when about forty percent of the São Paulo crop and trees suffered.

Generally speaking, the most suitable climate for coffee is a temperate one within the tropics; however, it has been successfully cultivated between latitudes 28° north and 38° south.

Rainfall. Although able to grow satisfactorily only on well drained land, the coffee tree requires an abundance of water, about seventy inches of rainfall annually, and must have it supplied evenly throughout the year. Prolonged droughts are fatal; while, on the other hand, too great a supply of water tends to develop the wood of the tree at the expense of the flowers and fruit, especially in low-lying regions.

Altitude. Coffee is found growing in all altitudes, from sea-level up to the frost-line, which is about 6,000 feet in the tropics. Robusta and liberica varieties of coffee do best in regions from sea-level up to 3,000 feet, while arabica flourishes better at the higher levels.

Carvalho says that the coffee plant needs sun, but that a few hours daily exposure is sufficient. Hilly ground has the advantage of offering the choice of a suitable exposure, as the sun shines on it for only a part of the day. Whether it is the early morning or the afternoon sun that enables the plant to attain its optimum conditions is a question of locality.

Cross Section of Mountain Slope in Yemen, Arabia, Showing Coffee Terraces
Cross Section of Mountain Slope in Yemen, Arabia, Showing Coffee Terraces
These miniature plantations are found chiefly along the caravan route between Hodeida and Sanaa

[Pg 199]

Clearing Virgin Forest for a Coffee Estate in Mexico Clearing Virgin Forest for a Coffee Estate in Mexico

Coffee Nursery Under a Bamboo Roof in Colombia Coffee Nursery Under a Bamboo Roof in Colombia

[Pg 200]

In Mexico, Romero tells us, the highlands of Soconusco have the advantage that the sun does not shine on the trees during the whole of the day. On the higher slopes of the Cordilleras—from 2,500 feet above sea-level—clouds prevail during the summer season, when the sun is hottest, and are frequently present in the other seasons, after ten o'clock in the morning. These keep the trees from being exposed to the heat of the sun during the whole of the day. Perhaps to this circumstance is due the superior excellence of certain coffees grown in Mexico, Colombia, and Sumatra at an altitude of 3,000 feet to 4,000 feet above sea-level.

Richard Spruce, the botanist, in his notes on South America, as quoted by Alfred Russel Wallace,[315] refers to "a zone of the equatorial Andes ranging between 4,000 and 6,000 feet altitude, where the best flavored coffee is grown."

Propagation. Coffee trees are grown most generally from seeds selected from trees of known productivity and longevity; although in some parts of the world propagation is done from shoots or cuttings. The seed method is most general, however, the seeds being either propagated in nursery beds, or planted at once in the spot where the mature tree is to stand. In the latter case—called planting at stake—four or five seeds are planted, much as corn is sown; and after germination, all but the strongest plant are removed.

Where the nursery method is followed, the choicest land of the plantation is chosen for its site; and the seeds are planted in forcing beds, sometimes called cold-frames. When the plants are to be transplanted direct to the plantation, the seeds are generally sown six inches apart and in rows separated by the same distance, and are covered with only a slight sprinkling of earth. When the plants are to be transferred from the first bed to another, and then to the plantation, the seeds are sown more thickly; and the plants are "pricked" out as needed, and set out in another forcing bed.

During the six to seven weeks required for the coffee seed to germinate, the soil must be kept moist and shaded and thoroughly weeded. If the trees are to be grown without shade, the young plants are gradually exposed to the sun, to harden them, before they begin their existence in the plantation proper.

Coffee Tree Nursery, Panajabal, Pochuta, Guatemala Coffee Tree Nursery, Panajabal, Pochuta, Guatemala

Drying Grounds and Factory in the Preanger Regency Drying Grounds and Factory in the Preanger Regency

Native Transport, Field to Factory, at Dramaga, Near Buitenzorg Native Transport, Field to Factory, at Dramaga, Near Buitenzorg

[Pg 201]

Considerable experimental work has been done in renewing trees by grafting, notably in Java; but practically all commercial planters follow the seed method.

Coffee Growing Under Shade, Porto Rico Coffee Growing Under Shade, Porto Rico

Preparing the Plantation. Before transplanting time has come, the plantation itself has been made ready to receive the young plants. Coffee plantations are generally laid out on heavily wooded and sloping lands, most often in forests on mountainsides and plateaus, where there is an abundance of water, of which large quantities are used in cultivating the trees and in preparing the coffee beans for market. The soil most suitable is friable, sandy, or even gravelly, with an abundance of rocks to keep the soil comparatively cool and well drained, as well as to supply a source of food by action of the weather. The ideal soil is one that contains a large proportion of potassium and phosphoric acid; and for that reason, the general practise is to burn off the foliage and trees covering the land and to use the ashes as fertilizer.

In preparing the soil for the new plantation under the intensive cultivation method, the surface of the land is lightly plowed, and then followed up with thorough cultivation. When transplanting time comes, which is when the plant is about a year old, and stands from twelve to eighteen inches high with its first pairs of primary branches, the plants are set out in shallow holes at regular intervals of from eight to twelve, or even fourteen, feet apart. This gives room for the root system to develop, provides space for sunlight to reach each tree, and makes for convenience in cultivating and harvesting. Liberica and robusta type trees require more room than arabica. When set twelve feet apart, which is the general practise, with the same distance maintained between rows, there are approximately four hundred and fifty trees to the acre. In the triangle, or hexagon, system the trees are planted in the form of an equilateral triangle, each tree being the same distance (usually eight or nine feet) from its six nearest neighbors. This system permits of 600 to 800 trees per acre.

Shade and Wind Breaks. Strong, chilly winds and intensely hot sunlight are foes of coffee trees, especially of the arabica variety. Accordingly, in most countries it is customary to protect the plantation with wind-breaks consisting of rugged trees, and to shade the coffee by growing trees of other kinds between the rows. The shade trees serve also to check soil erosion; and in the case of the leguminous kinds, to furnish nutriment to the soil. Coffee does best in shade such as is afforded by the silk[Pg 202] oak (Grevillea robusta). In Shade in Coffee Culture (Bulletin 25, 1901, division of botany, United States Department of Agriculture), O.F. Cook goes extensively into this subject.

The methods employed in the care of a coffee plantation do not differ materially from those followed by advanced orchardists in the colder fruit-belts of the world. After the young plants have gained their start, they are cultivated frequently, principally to keep out the weeds, to destroy pests, and to aerate the earth. The implements used range from crude hand-plows to horse-drawn cultivators.

Fertilizing. Comparatively little fertilizing is done on plantations established on virgin soil until the trees begin to bear, which occurs when they are about three years of age. Because the coffee tree takes potash, nitrogen, and phosphoric acid from the soil, the scheme of fertilizing is to restore these elements. The materials used to replace the soil-constituents consist of stable manure, leguminous plants, coffee-tree prunings, leaves, certain weeds, oil cake, bone and fish meal, guano, wood ashes, coffee pulp and parchment, and such chemical fertilizers as superphosphate of lime, basic slag, sulphate of ammonia, nitrate of lime, sulphate of potash, nitrate of potash, and similar materials.

The relative values of these fertilizers depend largely upon local climate and soil conditions, the supply, the cost, and other like factors. The chemical fertilizers are coming into increasing use in the larger and more economically advanced producing countries. Brazil, particularly, is showing in late years a tendency toward their adoption to make up for the dwindling supply of the so-called natural manures. As the coffee tree grows older, it requires a larger supply of fertilizer.

The Famous Boekit Gompong Estate, Near Padang, on Sumatra's West Coast
The Famous Boekit Gompong Estate, Near Padang, on Sumatra's West Coast
Showing the healthy, regular appearance of well-cultivated coffee bushes, twenty-six years old. Also note the line of feathery bamboo wind-breaks

Pruning. On the larger plantations, pruning is an important part of the cultivation processes. If left to their own devices, coffee trees sometimes grow as high as forty feet, the strength being absorbed by the wood, with a consequent scanty production of fruit. To prevent this undesirable result, and to facilitate picking, the trees on the more modern plantations are pruned down to heights ranging from six to twelve feet. Except for pruning the roots when transplanting, the tree is permitted to grow until after producing its first full crop before any cutting takes place. Then, the branches are severely cut back; and thereafter, pruning is carried on[Pg 203] annually. Topping and pruning begin between the first and the second years.

Coffee Estate in Antioquia, Colombia, Showing Wind-Breaks Coffee Estate in Antioquia, Colombia, Showing Wind-Breaks

Coffee trees as a rule produce full crops from the sixth to the fifteenth year, although some trees have given a paying crop until twenty or thirty years old. Ordinarily the trees bear from one-half pound to eight pounds of coffee annually, although there are accounts of twelve pounds being obtained per tree. Production is mostly governed by the cultivation given the tree, and by climate, soil, and location. When too old to bear profitable yields, the trees on commercial plantations are cut down to the level of the ground; and are renewed by permitting only the strongest sprout springing out of the stump to mature.

Catch Crops. On some plantations it has become the practise to grow catch crops between the rows of coffee trees, both as a means of obtaining additional revenue and to shade the young coffee plants. Corn, beans, cotton, peanuts, and similar plants are most generally used.

Pests and Diseases. The coffee tree, its wood, foliage, and fruit, have their enemies, chief among which are insects, fungi, rodents (the "coffee rat"), birds, squirrels, and—according to Rossignon—elephants, buffalo, and native cattle, which have a special liking for the tender leaves of the coffee plant. Insects and fungi are the most bothersome pests on most plantations. Among the insects, the several varieties of borers are the principal foes, boring into the wood of the trunk and branches to lay larvae which sap the life from the tree. There are scale insects whose excretion forms a black mold on the leaves and affects the nutrition by cutting off the sunlight. Numerous kinds of beetles, caterpillars, grasshoppers, and crickets attack the coffee-tree leaves, the so-called "leaf-miner" being especially troublesome. The Mediterranean fruit fly deposits larvae which destroy or lessen the worth of the coffee berry by tunneling within and eating the contents of the parchment. The coffee-berry beetle and its grub also live within the coffee berry.

Among the most destructive fungoid diseases is the so-called Ceylon leaf disease, which is caused by the Hemileia vastatrix, a fungus related to the wheat rust. It was this disease which ruined the coffee industry in Ceylon, where it first appeared in 1869,[Pg 204] and since has been found in other coffee-producing regions of Asia and Africa. America has a similar disease, caused by the Sphaerostilbe flavida, that is equally destructive if not vigilantly guarded against. (See chapters XV and XVI.)

The coffee-tree roots also are subject to attack. There is the root disease, prevalent in all countries, and for which no cause has yet been definitely assigned, although it has been determined that it is of a fungoid nature. Brazil, and some other American coffee-producing countries, have a serious disease caused by the eelworm, and for that reason called the eelworm disease.

Coffee planters combat pests and diseases principally with sprays, as in other lines of advanced arboriculture. It is a constant battle, especially on the large commercial plantations, and constitutes a large item on the expense sheet.

Cultivation by Countries

Coffee-cultivation methods vary somewhat in detail in the different producing countries. The foregoing description covers the underlying principles in practise throughout the world; while the following is intended to show the local variations in vogue in the principal countries of production, together with brief descriptions of the main producing districts, the altitudes, character of soil, climate, and other factors that are peculiar to each country. In general, they are considered in the order of their relative importance as producing countries.

Brazil. In Brazil, the Giant of South America, and the world's largest coffee producer, the methods of cultivation naturally have reached a high point of development, although the soil and the climate were not at first regarded as favorable. The year 1723 is generally accepted as the date of the introduction of the coffee plant into Brazil from French Guiana. Coffee planting was slow in developing, however, until 1732, when the governor of the states of Pará and Maranhao urged its cultivation. Sixteen years later, there were 17,000 trees in Pará. From that year on, slow but steady progress was made; and by 1770, an export trade had been begun from the port of Pará to countries in Europe.

Up-to-Date Weeding and Harrowing, São Paulo Up-to-Date Weeding and Harrowing, São Paulo

The spread of the industry began about this time. The coffee tree was introduced into the state of Rio de Janeiro in 1770. From there its cultivation was gradually[Pg 205] extended into the states of São Paulo, Minãs Geraes, Bahia, and Espirito Santo, which have become the great coffee-producing sections of Brazil. The cultivation of the plant did not become especially noteworthy until the third decade of the nineteenth century. Large crops were gathered in the season of 1842–43; and by the middle of the century, the plantations were producing annually more than 2,000,000 bags.

General View of Fazenda Dumont, Ribeirao Preto, São Paulo, Brazil General View of Fazenda Dumont, Ribeirao Preto, São Paulo, Brazil
Photograph by Courtesy of J. Aron & Co.

Brazil's commercial coffee-growing region has an estimated area of approximately 1,158,000 square miles, and extends from the river Amazon to the southern border of the state of São Paulo, and from the Atlantic coast to the western boundary of the state of Matto Grosso. This area is larger than that section of the United States lying east of the Mississippi River, with Texas added. In every state of the republic, from Ceará in the north to Santa Catharina in the south, the coffee tree can be cultivated profitably; and is, in fact, more or less grown in every state, if only for domestic use. However, little attention is given to coffee-growing in the north, except in the state of Pernambuco, which has only about 1,500,000 trees, as compared, with the 764,000,000 trees of São Paulo in 1922.

The chief coffee-growing plantations in Brazil are situated on plateaus seldom less than 1,800 feet above sea-level, and ranging up to 4,000 feet. The mean annual temperature is approximately 70° F., ranging from a mean of 60.8° in winter to a mean of 72° in summer. The temperature has been known, however, to register 32° in winter and 97.7° in summer.

While coffee trees will grow in almost any part of Brazil, experience indicates that the two most fertile soils, the terra roxa and the massape, lie in the "coffee belts." The terra roxa is a dark red earth, and is practically confined to São Paulo, and to it is due the predominant coffee productivity of that state. Massape is a yellow, dark red—or even black—soil, and occurs more or less contiguous to the terra roxa. With a covering of loose sand, it makes excellent coffee land.

Brazil planters follow the nursery-propagated method of planting, and cultivate, prune, and spray their trees liberally. Transplanting is done in the months from November to February.

Coffee-growing profits have shown a decided falling off in Brazil in recent years. In 1900 it was not uncommon for a coffee estate to yield an annual profit of from 100 to 250 percent. Ten years later the average returns did not exceed twelve percent.

[Pg 206]


[Pg 207]

In Brazil's coffee belt there are two seasons—the wet, running from September to March; and the dry, running from April to August. The coffee trees are in bloom from September to December. The blossoms last about four days, and are easily beaten off by light winds or rains. If the rains or winds are violent, the green berries may be similarly destroyed; so that great damage may be caused by unseasonable rains and storms.

The harvest usually begins in April or May, and extends well into the dry season. Even in the picking season, heavy rains and strong winds—especially the latter—may do considerable damage; for in Brazil shade trees and wind-breaks are the exception.

Approximately twenty-five percent of the São Paulo plantations are cultivated by machinery. A type of cultivator very common is similar to the small corn-plow used in the United States. The Planet Junior, manufactured by a well known United States agricultural-machinery firm, is the most popular cultivator. It is drawn by a small mule, with a boy to lead it, and a man to drive and to guide the plow.

Picking Coffee in São Paulo Picking Coffee in São Paulo
Copyright by Brown & Dawson.

The preponderance of the coffee over other industries in São Paulo is shown in many ways. A few years ago the registration of laborers in all industries was about 450,000; and of this total, 420,000 were employed in the production and transportation of coffee alone. Of the capital invested in all industries, about eighty-five percent was in coffee production and commerce, including the railroads that depended upon it directly. An estimated value of $482,500,000 was placed upon the plantations in the state, including land, machinery, the residences of owners, and laborers' quarters.

In all Brazil, there are approximately 1,200,000,000 coffee trees. The number of bearing coffee trees in São Paulo alone increased from 735,000,000 in 1914–15 to 834,000,000 in 1917–18. The crop in 1917–18 was 1,615,000,000 pounds, one of the largest on record. In the agricultural year of 1922–23 there were 764,969,500 coffee trees in bearing in São Paulo, and in São Paulo, Minãs, and Parana, 824,194,500.

Intensive Cultivation Methods in the Ribeirao Preto District, São Paulo Intensive Cultivation Methods in the Ribeirao Preto District, São Paulo
Photograph by Courtesy of J. Aron & Co.

Plantations having from 300,000 to 400,000 trees are common. One plantation near Ribeirao Preto has 5,000,000 trees, and requires an army of 6,000 laborers to work[Pg 208] it. Another planter owns thirty-two adjacent plantations containing, in all, from 7,500,000 to 8,000,000 coffee trees and gives employment to 8,000 persons. There are fifteen plantations having more than 1,000,000 trees each, and five of these have more than 2,000,000 trees each. In the municipality of Ribeirao Preto there were 30,000,000 trees in 1922.

Private Railroad on a São Paulo Coffee Fazenda Private Railroad on a São Paulo Coffee Fazenda
Showing coffee trees and laborers' houses in the middle distance at right
Photograph by Courtesy of J. Aron & Co.

The largest coffee plantations in the world are the Fazendas Dumont and the Fazendas Schmidt. The Fazendas Dumont were valued, in 1915, in cost of land and improvements, at $5,920,007; and since those figures were given out, the value of the investment has much increased. Of the various Fazendas Schmidt, the largest, owned by Colonel Francisco Schmidt, in 1918 had 9,000,000 trees with an annual yield of 200,000 bags, or 26,400,000 pounds, of coffee. Other large plantations in São Paulo with a million or more trees, are the Companhia Agricola Fazenda Dumont, 2,420,000 trees; Companhia São Martinho, 2,300,000 trees; Companhia Dumont, 2,000,000 trees; São Paulo Coffee Company, 1,860,000 trees; Christiana Oxorio de Oliveira, 1,790,000 trees; Companhia Guatapara, 1,550,000 trees; Dr. Alfredo Ellis, 1,271,000 trees; Companhia Agricola Araqua, 1,200,000 trees; Companhia Agricola Ribeirao Preto, 1,138,000 trees; Rodriguez Alves Irmaos, 1,060,000 trees; Francisca Silveira do Val, 1,050,000 trees; Luiza de Oliveira Azevedo, 1,045,000 trees; and the Companhia Caféeria São Paulo, 1,000,000 trees.

The average annual yield in São Paulo is estimated at from 1,750 to 4,000 pounds from a thousand trees, while in exceptional instances it is said that as much as 6,000 pounds per 1,000 trees have been gathered. Differences in local climatic conditions, in ages of trees, in richness of soil, and in the care exercised in cultivation, are given as the reasons for the wide variation.

The oldest coffee-growing district in São Paulo is Campinas. There are 136 others.

Bahia coffee is not so carefully cultivated and harvested as the Santos coffee. The introduction of capital and modern methods would do much for Bahia, which has the advantage of a shorter haul to the New York and the European markets.

On the average, something like seventy percent of the world's coffee crop is grown in Brazil, and two-thirds of this is produced in São Paulo. Coffee culture in many districts of São Paulo has been brought to the point of highest development; and yet its product is essentially a quantity, not a quality, one.

Colombia. In Colombia, coffee is the principal crop grown for export. It is produced in nearly all departments at elevations ranging from 3,500 feet to 6,500 feet. Chief among the coffee-growing departments are Antioquia (capital, Medellin); Caldas (capital, Manizales); Magdalena (capital, Santa Marta); Santander (capital, Bucaramanga); Tolima (capital, Ibague); and the Federal District (capital, Bogota). The department of Cundinamarca produces a coffee that is counted one of the best of Colombian grades. The finest grades are grown in the foot-hills of the Andes, in altitudes from 3,500 to 4,500 feet above sea level.

[Pg 209]

The Conducting Sluiceway at Guatapara The Conducting Sluiceway at Guatapara
The running water carries the picked coffee berries to pulpers and washing tanks

Coffee Picking and Field Transport Coffee Picking and Field Transport

[Pg 210]


[Pg 211]

Picking Coffee on a Bogota Plantation Picking Coffee on a Bogota Plantation

Methods of planting, cultivation, gathering, and preparing the Colombian coffee crop for the market are substantially those that are common in all coffee-producing countries, although they differ in some small particulars. About 700 trees are usually planted to the acre, and native trees furnish the necessary shade. The average yield is one pound per tree per year.

While Coffea arabica has been mostly cultivated in Colombia, as in the other countries of South America, the liberica variety has not been neglected. Seeds of the liberica tree were planted here soon after 1880, and were moderately successful. Since 1900, more attention has been given to liberica, and attempts have been made to grow it upon banana and rubber plantations, which seem to provide all the shade protection that is needed. Liberica coffee trees begin to bear in their third year. From the fifth year, when a crop of about 650 pounds to the acre can reasonably be expected, the productiveness steadily increases until after fifteen or sixteen years, when a maximum of over one thousand pounds an acre is attained.

Antioquia is the largest coffee producing department in the republic, and its coffee is of the highest grade grown. Medellin, the capital, where the business interests of the industry are concentrated, is a handsome white city located on the banks of the Aburra river, in a picturesque valley that is overlooked by the high peaks of the Andean range. It is a town of about 80,000 inhabitants, thriving as a manufacturing center, abundant in modern improvements, and is the center of a coffee production of 500,000 bags known in the market as Medellin and Manizales. Another center in this coffee region is the town of Manizales, perched on the crest of the Andean spurs to dominate the valley extending to Medellin and the Cauca valley to the Pacific. There-about many small coffee growers are settled, and several hundred thousand bags of the beans pass through annually.

One of the interesting plantations of the country was started a few years ago in a remote region by an enterprising American investor. It was located on the slopes of the Sierra Nevada mountains 3,000 to 5,000 feet above sea-level, about twenty-five miles from the city of Santa Marta. An extended acreage of forest-covered land was acquired, about 600 acres of which were cleared and either planted in coffee or reserved for pasturage and other kinds of agriculture.[Pg 212] When the plantation came to maturity, it had nearly 300,000 trees. In 1919, there were 425,000 trees producing 3,600 hundred-weight of coffee.

A typical Colombian plantation is the Namay, owned by one of the bankers of the Banco de Colombia of Bogota. It is located a good half day's travel by rail and horseback from the city, about 5,000 feet above the level of the sea. There are 1,000 acres in the plantation, with 250,000 trees having an ultimate productive capacity of nearly 2,000 bags a year. During crop times, which are from May to July, about two hundred families are needed on an estate of this size.

Venezuela. Seeds of the coffee plant were brought into Venezuela from Martinique in 1784 by a priest who started a small plantation near Caracas. Five years later, the first export of the bean was made, 233 bags, or about 30,000 pounds. Within fifty years, production had increased to upward of 50,000,000 pounds annually; and by the end of the nineteenth century, to more than 100,000,000 pounds.

Situated between the equator and the twelfth parallel of north latitude, in the world's coffee belt, this country has an area equal to that of all the United States east of the Mississippi river and north of the Ohio and Potomac rivers, or greater than that of France, Germany, and the Netherlands combined—599,533 square miles.

The chain of the Maritime Andes, reaching eastward across Colombia and Venezuela, approaches the Caribbean coast in the latter country. Along the slopes and foot-hills of these mountains are produced some of the finest grades of South American coffee. Here the best coffee grows in the tierra templada and in the lower part of the tierra fria, and is known as the café de tierra fria, or coffee of the cold, or high, land. In these regions the equable climate, the constant and adequate moisture, the rich and well-drained soil, and the protecting forest shade afford the conditions under which the plant grows and thrives best. On the fertile lowland valleys nearer the coast grows the café de tierra caliente, or coffee of the hot land.

On the Altamira Hacienda, Venezuela On the Altamira Hacienda, Venezuela
The long pipe crossing the center of the picture is a water sluiceway bringing coffee down from the hills

Coffee growing has become the main agricultural pursuit of the country. In 1839 it was estimated that there were 8,900 acres of land planted in coffee, and in 1888 there were 168,000,000 coffee trees in the country on 346,000 acres of land. In the opening years of the twentieth century not far from 250,000 acres were devoted to this cultivation, comprised in upward of 33,000[Pg 213] plantations. The average yield per acre is about 250 pounds. The trees are usually planted from two to two and a quarter meters apart, and this gives about 800 trees to the acre. The triangle system is unknown.

Carmen Hacienda, Fronting on the Escalante River, Venezuela Carmen Hacienda, Fronting on the Escalante River, Venezuela

In this country, the coffee tree bears its first crop when four or five years old. The trees are not subject to unusual hazards from the attacks of injurious insects and animals or from serious parasitic diseases. Nature is kind to them, and their only serious contention for existence arises from the luxuriant tropical vegetation by which they are surrounded. On the whole their cultivation is comparatively easy. On the best managed estates there are not more than 1,000 trees to a fanegada—about one and three-quarters acres of land—and it is calculated that an average annual yield for such a fanegada should be about twenty quintals, a little more than 2,032 pounds of merchantable coffee. It is to be noted, however, that the average yield per tree throughout Venezuela is low—not more than four ounces.

There are no great coffee belts as in Mexico and Central America. Many districts are days' rides apart. The plantations are isolated, and there is lacking a co-operative spirit among the growers.

Methods of cultivating and preparing the berry for the market are substantially those that prevail elsewhere in South America. Most plantations are handled in ordinary, old-fashioned ways; but the better estates employ machinery and methods of the most advanced and improved character at all points of their operation, from the planting of the seed to the final marketing of the berry.

Java. Java, the oldest coffee-producing country in which the tree is not indigenous, was producing a high-grade coffee long before Brazil, Colombia, and Venezuela entered the industry; and it held its supremacy in the world's trade for many years before the younger American producing countries were able to surpass its annual output. The first attempt to introduce the plant into Java took place in 1696, the seedlings being brought from Malabar in India and planted at Kadawoeng, near Batavia. Earthquake and flood soon destroyed the plants; and in 1699 Henricus Zwaardecroon brought the second lot of seedlings from Malabar. These became the progenitors of all the arabica coffees of the Dutch East Indies. The industry grew, and in 1711 the first Java coffee was sold at public auction in Amsterdam. Exports amounted to 116,587 pounds in 1720; and in 1724 the Amsterdam market sold 1,396,486 pounds of coffee from Java.

From the early part of the nineteenth century up to 1905, cultivation was carried on under a Dutch government monopoly—excepting[Pg 214] for the five years, 1811–16, when the British had control of the island. The government monopoly was first established when Marshal Daendels, acting for the crown of Holland, took control of the islands from the Netherlands East India Company. Before that time, the princes of Preanger had raised all the coffee under the provisions of a treaty made in the middle of the eighteenth century, by which they paid an annual tribute in coffee to the company for the privilege of retaining their land revenues. When the Dutch government recovered the islands from the British, the plantations, which had been permitted to go to ruin, were put in order again, and the government system re-established.

A Heavy Fruiting of Coffea Robusta in Java A Heavy Fruiting of Coffea Robusta in Java

A modification of the first monopoly plan of the government was put into effect later in the régime of Governor Van den Bosch, and was maintained until into the twentieth century. Under the Daendels plan, each native family was required to keep 1000 coffee trees in bearing on village lands, and to give to the government two-fifths of the crop, delivered cleaned and sorted, at the government store. The natives retained the other three-fifths. Under the Van den Bosch system, each family was required to raise and care for 650 trees and to deliver the crop cleaned and sorted to the government stores at a fixed price. The government then sold the coffee at public auctions in Batavia, Padang, Amsterdam, or Rotterdam.

This method of fostering the new industry resulted in government control of fully four-fifths of the area under the crop, only the small balance being owned or worked independently by private enterprise. For many years after the cultivation had been fully started, this condition of the business persisted. Most of the privately-operated plantations had been in existence before the government had set up its monopoly system. Others were on the estates of native princes who, in treating with the Dutch, had been able to retain some of their original sovereign rights. While these plans worked well in encouraging the industry at the outset, they were not conducive to the fullest possibilities in production. Forced labor on the government plantations was naturally apt to be slow, careless, and indifferent. Private ownership and operation bettered this somewhat, the private estates being able to show annual yields of from one to two pounds per tree as compared with only a little more[Pg 215] than one-half pound per tree on government-controlled estates.

In the course of time, the system of private ownership gradually expanded beyond that of the government; and before the end of the nineteenth century, private owners were growing and exporting more coffee than did the Javanese government. The government withdrew from the coffee business in Java in 1905, and the last government auction was held in June of that year. The monopoly in Sumatra was given up in 1908. After that, however, coffee continued to be grown on government lands, but in much less quantity than in the years immediately preceding. The Dutch government withdrew from all coffee cultivation in 1918–19.

According to statistics, the ground under cultivation for all kinds of coffee in Java and the other islands of the Dutch East Indies in 1919 was 142,272 acres, of which 112,138 acres were in Java. Of this area, 110,903 acres were planted with robusta, 15,314 acres with arabica, 4,940 with liberica, and 11,115 with other varieties.

There were more than 400 European-managed estates in 1915, covering a planted area of about 209,000 acres. Three hundred and thirty of these estates, representing 165,000 acres, were in Java. On that island production in 1904 was 47,927,000 pounds; in 1905, 59,092,000 pounds; in 1906, 66,953,000 pounds; in 1907, 31,044,000 pounds; 1908, 39,349,000 pounds. The total crop in 1919 for all the Netherlands East Indies was 97,361,000 pounds, as against 140,764,800 pounds for 1918.

Intensive cultivation methods on the European-operated plantations in Java have been practised for many years; and the Netherlands East Indies government has long maintained experimental stations for the purpose of improving strains and cultivation methods.

Road Through a Coffee Estate in East Java Road Through a Coffee Estate in East Java

In some parts of the island, especially in the highlands, the climate and soil are ideal for coffee culture. The robusta tree grows satisfactorily even at altitudes of less than 1,000 feet in some regions; but its bearing life is only about ten years, as compared with the thirty years of the arabica at altitudes of from 3,000 to 4,000 feet. The low-ground trees generally produce earlier and more abundantly. On some of the highland plantations, pruning is not practised to any great extent, and the trees often reach thirty or forty feet in height. This necessitates the use of ladders in picking;[Pg 216] but frequently the yield per tree has been from six to seven pounds.

Native Picking Coffee, Sumatra Native Picking Coffee, Sumatra

Coffee is produced commercially in nearly every political district in Java, but the bulk of the yield is obtained from East Java. The names best known to European and American traders are those of the regencies of Besoeki and Pasoeroean; because their coffees make up eighty-seven percent of Java's production. Some of the other better known districts are: Preanger, Cheribon, Kadoe, Samarang, Soerabaya, and Tegal.

The arabica variety has practically been driven out of the districts below 3,500 feet altitude by the leaf disease, and has been succeeded by the more hardy robusta and liberica coffees and their hybrids. Illustrating the importance of robusta coffee, Netherlands East India government in a statement issued August, 1919, estimated the area under cultivation on all islands as follows: robusta, eighty-four percent; arabica, five and one-half percent; liberica, four and one-half percent. The balance, six percent, was made up of scores of other varieties, among the most important being the canephora, Ugandæ, baukobensis, suakurensis, Quillou, stenophylla, and rood-bessige. All of these are similar to robusta, and are exported as robusta-achtigen (robusta-like). The liberica group includes the excelsa, abeokuta, Dewevrei, arnoldiana, aruwimiensis, and Dybowskii.

Palatial Bungalow of Administrator, Dramaga, in the Preanger District, Java Palatial Bungalow of Administrator, Dramaga, in the Preanger District, Java

Sumatra. Practically all the coffee districts in Sumatra are on the west coast, where the plant was first propagated early in the eighteenth century. Padang, the capital city, is the headquarters for Sumatra coffee. With climate and soil similar to Java, the island of Sumatra has the added advantage that its land is not "coffee moe", or coffee tired, as is the case in parts of Java. Some of the world's best coffees are still coming from Sumatra; and the island has possibilities that could make it an important factor in production. Sumatra produced 287,179 piculs of coffee in 1920. The total production of all the islands that year was 807,591 piculs.

Old-Time Sailing Vessel Loading in Padang Roads Old-Time Sailing Vessel Loading in Padang Roads

Interior of a Dutch Coffee-Cleaning Factory, Padang Interior of a Dutch Coffee-Cleaning Factory, Padang

[Pg 217]

Administrator's Bungalow on the Gadoeng Batoe Estate, Sumatra Administrator's Bungalow on the Gadoeng Batoe Estate, Sumatra

The districts of Ankola, Siboga, Ayer Bangies, Mandheling, Palembang, Padang, and Benkoelen, on the west coast, have some of the largest estates on the island; and their products are well known in international trade. The east coast has recently gone in for heavy plantings of robusta.

As in Java, coffee for a century or more was cultivated under the government-monopoly scheme. The compulsory system was given up in this island in 1908, three years after it was abandoned in Java.

Other East Indies. Coffee is grown in several of the other islands in the Dutch East Indian archipelago, chiefly on the Celebes, Bali, Lombok, the Moluccas, and Timor. Most of the estates are under native control, and the methods of cultivation are not up to the standard of the European-owned plantations on the larger islands of Java and Sumatra. The most important of these islands is Celebes, where the first coffee plant was introduced from Java about 1750, but where cultivation was not carried on to any great extent until about seventy-five years later. In 1822 the production amounted to 10,000 pounds; in 1917, the yield was 1,322,328 pounds.

Salvador. Coffee, which is far and away the most important crop in Salvador, constitutes in value more than one-half the total exports. It has been cultivated since about 1852, when plants were brought from Havana; but the development of the industry in its early years was not rapid. The first large plantations were established in 1876 in La Paz, and that department has become the leading coffee-producing section of the country.

The berry is grown in all districts that have altitudes of from 1,500 to 4,000 feet. Besides those of La Paz, the most productive plantations are in the departments of Santa Ana, Sonsonate, San Salvador, San Vincente, San Miguel, Santa Tecla, and Ahuachapan. In contrast with several of the adjoining Central American republics, native Salvadoreans are the owners of most of the coffee farms, very few having passed into the hands of foreigners. The laborers are almost entirely native Indians. A considerable part of the work of cultivating and preparing the berry for the market is still done by hand; but in recent years machinery has been set up on the large estates and for general use in the receiving centers.

[Pg 218]

Well Cultivated Young Coffee Trees in Blossom Well Cultivated Young Coffee Trees in Blossom

Entrance to a Finca in the Highlands Entrance to a Finca in the Highlands

[Pg 219]

It is estimated that now about 166,000 acres are under coffee, nearly all the land in the country suitable for that purpose. As in most other coffee-raising countries, the trees begin bearing when they are two or three years old, reach full maturity at the age of seven or eight years, and continue to bear for about thirty years. Intensive cultivation and a more extensive use of fertilizers have been urged as necessary in order to increase the crop; but, so far, with not much effect, the importation of fertilizer being still very small. Crop gathering begins in the lowlands in November, and gradually proceeds into the higher regions, month by month, until the picking in the highest altitudes is finished in the following March.

Guatemala. Guatemala began intensive coffee growing about 1875. Coffee had been known in the country in a small way from about 1850, but now serious attention began to be given to its cultivation, and it quickly advanced to an industrial position of importance. Within a generation it became the great staple crop of the country.

Guatemala has an area of 48,250 square miles, about the size of the state of Ohio. Its population is about 2,000,000. Three mountain ranges, intersecting magnificent table lands, traverse the country from north to south; and there is the great coffee territory. The table lands are from 2,500 to 5,000 feet above sea-level, and have a temperate climate most agreeable to the coffee tree. On the lower heights it is necessary to protect the young trees from the extreme heat of the sun; and the banana is most approved for this purpose, since it raises its own crop at the same time that it is giving shade to its companion tree. On the higher levels the plantations need protection from the cold north winds that blow strongly across the country, especially in December, January, and February. The range of hills to the north is the best protection, and generally is all sufficient. When the weather becomes too severe, heaps of rubbish mixed with pitch are thrown up to the north of the fields of coffee trees and set afire, the resultant dense smoke driving down between rows of trees and saving them from the frost.

Indians Picking Coffee, Guatemala Indians Picking Coffee, Guatemala

Named in the order of their productivity, the coffee districts are Costa Cuca, Costa Grande, Barberena, Tumbador, Cobán, Costa de Cucho, Chicacao, Xolhuitz, Pochuta, Malacatan, San Marcos, Chuva, Panan, Turgo, Escuintla, San Vincente, Pacaya, Antigua, Moran, Amatitlan, Sumatan, Palmar, Zunil, and Motagua.

Estimates of coffee acreage vary. One authority, too conservatively, perhaps, puts the figure at 145,000. Another estimate is 260,000 acres. Under cultivation are from 70,000,000 to 100,000,000 trees from which an annual crop averaging about 75,000,000 pounds is raised, and the exceptional amounts of nearly 90,000,000 and 97,000,000 pounds have been harvested. Several plantations of size can be counted upon for an annual production of more than 1,000,000 pounds each.

Before the World War German interests dominated the coffee industry, handling fully eighty percent of the crop, and growing nearly half of it.

Planting and cultivation methods in Guatemala are about the same as those prevailing in other countries. The trees are usually in flower in February, March, and April, and the harvesting season extends from August to January. All work on the plantation is done by Indian laborers under a peonage system, families working in companies: wages are small, but sufficient, conditions of living being easy. As elsewhere in these tropical and sub-tropical[Pg 220] countries, scarcity of labor is severely felt, and is a grave obstacle to the development of the industry in a land that is regarded as particularly well adapted to it.

The Coffee Planter's Life in Guatemala Is One of Pleasantness and Peace The Coffee Planter's Life in Guatemala Is One of Pleasantness and Peace

Haiti. Haiti, the magic isle of the Indies, has grown coffee almost from the beginning of the introduction of the tree into the western hemisphere. Its cultivation was started there about 1715, but the trees were largely permitted to fall into a wild natural state, and little attention was given to them or to the handling of the crop. Fertility of soil, climate, and moisture are favorable, and the advancement of the industry has been retarded only by the political conditions of the negro republic and a general lack of industry and enterprise on the part of the people.

Haiti is an island with three names. Haiti is used to describe the island as a whole, and to denote the Republic of Haiti, which occupies the western third of its area. The island is also known as Santo Domingo, and San Domingo, names likewise applied to the Dominican Republic which occupies the eastern two-thirds of the land unit.

Plantations now existing in Haiti have had, with rare exceptions, a life of more than ten or twenty years. It is estimated that they cover about 125,000 acres, with about 400 trees to the acre.

When the French acquired the island in 1789, the annual production was 88,360,502 pounds. During the following century that amount was not approached in any year, the nearest to it being 72,637,716 pounds in 1875. The lowest annual production was 20,280,589 pounds in 1818. The range during the hundred years, 1789–1890, was, with the exceptions noted, from 45,000,000 to 71,000,000 pounds.

Mexico. Opinions differ as to the exact date when coffee was introduced into Mexico. It is said to have been transplanted there from the West Indies near the end of the eighteenth century. A story is current that a Spaniard set out a few trees, on trial, in southern Mexico, in 1800, and that his experiments started other Mexican planters along the same line. Coffee was grown in the state of Vera Cruz early in the nineteenth century; and the books of the Vera Cruz custom house record that 1,101 quintals of coffee were exported through that port during the years 1802, 1803, and 1805.

In the Coatepec district, which eventually became famous in the annals of Mexican coffee growing, trees were planted about the year 1808. Local history says that seeds were brought from Cuba by Arias, a partner of the house of Pedro Lopez, owners of the large hacienda of Orduna in Coatepec.[Pg 221] The seeds were given to a priest, Andres Dominguez, who sowed them near Teocelo. When he had succeeded in starting seedlings, he gave them away to other planters there-about. The plants thrived, and this was the beginning of coffee cultivation in that section of the country.

Thirty-Year-Old Coffee Trees, La Esperanza, Huatusco, Mexico Thirty-Year-Old Coffee Trees, La Esperanza, Huatusco, Mexico

It was, however, nearly ten years later before the cultivation was on a scale approaching industrial and commercial importance. About 1816 or 1818 a Spaniard, named Juan Antonio Gomez, introduced the plant into the neighborhood of Cordoba. This city, now on the line of the Mexican and Vera Cruz Railroad, 200 miles from Mexico City, and sixty miles from Vera Cruz, is 2,500 feet above sea-level, and is situated in the most productive tropical region of the country.

Having been started in Coatepec and Cordoba, the industry was centered for a long time in the state of Vera Cruz. For many years practically all the coffee grown commercially in Mexico was produced in that state. Gradually the new pursuit spread to the mountains in the adjacent states of Oaxaca and Puebla, where it was taken up by the Indians almost entirely, and is still followed by them, but not on a large scale.

Although cultivation is now widely distributed in most of the more southern states of the republic, the principal coffee territory is still in Vera Cruz, where lie the districts of Cordoba, Orizaba, Huatusco, and Coatepec. In the same region are the Jalapa district, and the mountains of Puebla, where a great deal of coffee is grown. Farther south are the Oaxaca districts on the mountain slopes of the Pacific coast, and still farther south the districts of the state of Chiapas. Planting in the Pluma district in Oaxaca was begun about fifty years ago, and it now produces annually, in good years, nearly 1,000,000 pounds. The youngest district in this section is Soconusco, one of the most prolific in the republic, having been developed within the last thirty years. The region is near the border of Guatemala, and the coffee is held by many to possess some of the quality of the coffee of that country. The influence of Guatemalan methods has been felt also in its cultivation and handling, especially in increasing plantation productiveness. On the gulf slope of Oaxaca, there are plantations that annually produce 222,000 to 550,000 pounds. Several United States companies have become interested in coffee growing in this[Pg 222] state, and their output in recent years has been put upon the market in St. Louis.

Two principal varieties of coffee are recognized in Mexico. A sub-variety of Coffea arabica is mostly cultivated. This is an evergreen, growing only from five to seven feet. It flourishes well at different altitudes and in different climes, from the temperate plains of Puebla to the hot, damp, lower lands of Vera Cruz and Oaxaca, and other Pacific-coast regions. The range of elevation for it is from 1,500 to 5,000 feet, and it is satisfied with a temperature as low as 55° or as high as 80°, with plenty of natural humidity or with irrigation in the dry season. The other variety is called the "myrtle" and is widely grown, although not in large quantities. It is distinguished from arabica by the larger leaf of the tree and by the smaller corolla of the flower. It is a hardier plant than the arabica and will stand the higher temperature of low altitudes, thriving at an elevation of from 500 to 3,000 feet above sea-level. Mostly it is cultivated in the Cordoba district.

It is claimed by many that the Mexican coffee of best quality is grown in the western regions of the table lands of Colima and Michoacan, but only a small quantity of that is available for export. The state of Michoacan is especially favored by climate, altitude, soil, and surroundings to produce coffee of exceptionally high grade, and the Uruapan is considered to be its best.

Trees flower in January and March, and in high altitudes as late as June or July. Berries appear in July and are ripe for gathering in October or November, the picking season lasting until February.

Trees begin to yield when two or three years old, producing from two to four ounces. They reach full production, which is about one and a half pounds, at the age of six or seven years, though in the districts of Chiapas, Michoacan, Oaxaca, and Puebla, annual yields of three to five pounds per tree have been reported.

Since the World War American buyers have shown greater interest in the Tapachula coffee grown in Chiapas.

Mexican Coffee Picker, Coatepec District Mexican Coffee Picker, Coatepec District

Porto Rico. Coffee culture in Porto Rico dates from 1755 or even earlier, having been introduced from the neighboring islands of Martinique and Haiti. Count O'Reilly, writing of the island in the eighteenth century, mentions that the coffee exports for five years previous to 1765 amounted in value to $2,078. Old records show that in 1770 there was a crop of 700,000 pounds and that seems to be the first evidence that the new industry was growing to any noticeable proportions. For a hundred years, at least, only slow progress was made. In 1768 the king, of Spain issued a royal decree exempting coffee growers on the island from the payment of taxes or charges for a period of five years; but even that measure was not materially successful in stimulating interest and in developing cultivation.

Porto Rico is a good coffee-growing country; soil, climate, and temperature are well adapted to the berry. The coffee belt extends through the western half of the island, beginning in the hills along the south coast around Ponce, and extending north through the center of the island almost to Arecibo, near the west end of the north coast. But some coffee is grown in the other parts of the island, in sixty-four of the sixty-eight municipalities. Mountain sections are considered to be superior.

The largest plantations are in the region which includes the municipalities of Utuado, Adjuntas, Lares, Las Marias, Yauco, Maricao, San Sebastian, Mayaguez, Ciales, and Ponce. With the exception of Ponce and Mayaguez, all these districts are back from the coast; but insular roads of[Pg 223] recent construction make them now easily accessible, and there is no point on the island more than twenty miles distant from the sea.

Receiving and Measuring the Ripe Berries from the Pickers, Mexico Receiving and Measuring the Ripe Berries from the Pickers, Mexico

From the Sierra Luquillo range, which rises to a height of 1,500 feet, and from Yauco, Utuado, and Lares, come excellent coffees; and, on the whole, these are considered to be the best coffee regions of the island. A fine grade of coffee is also grown in the Ciales district. Figures compiled by the Treasury Department of the insular government for the purpose of taxation showed that for the tax year 1915–16 there were 167,137 acres of land planted to coffee and valued at $10,341,592, an average of $61.87 per acre. In 1910, there were 151,000 acres planted in coffee. In 1916 there were more than 5,000 separate coffee plantations.

Originally the coffee trees of Porto Rico were all of the arabica variety. In recent years numerous others have been introduced, until in 1917 there were more than 2,500 trees of new descriptions on the island.

The virgin land in the interior of the island is admirably adapted to the coffee tree, and less labor is required to prepare it for plantation purposes than in many other coffee-growing countries. It is cleared in the usual manner, and the trees are planted about eight feet apart, an average of 680 trees to the acre. The seeds are planted in February; and if the seedlings are transplanted, that is done when they are a year or a year and a half old. The guama, a big strong tree of dense foliage, is used for a wind-break on the ridges; and the guava, for shade in the plantation. Plow cultivation is generally impossible on account of the lay of the land, and only hoeing and spade work are done. Pruning is carefully attended to as the trees become full grown.

Flowering is generally in February and March, or even later. Heavy rains in April make a poor crop. Harvesting begins in September and extends into January, during which time ten pickings are made.

[Pg 224]


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The average yield per acre is between 200 and 300 pounds; but expert authority—Prof. O.F. Cook—in a statement made to the Committee on Insular Affairs of the United States House of Representatives, in 1900, held that under better cultural methods the yield could be increased to 800 or 900 pounds per acre. One estimator has calculated that an average plantation of 100 acres had cost its owner at the end of six or seven years, the bearing age, about $13,100 with yields of 75 pounds per acre in the third and in the fourth years, 400 pounds per acre in the fifth year, and 500 pounds in the sixth year, the income from which would practically have met the cost to that time. It is held by the same authority that an intensively cultivated, well-situated farm of selected trees, 880 to the acre, should yield some 880 pounds of cleaned coffee to the acre.

Costa Rica. Costa Rica ranks next to Guatemala and Salvador among the Central American countries as a producer of coffee, showing an average annual yield in recent years of 35,000,000 pounds as compared with Guatemala's 80,000,000 and Salvador's 75,000,000 pounds. Nicaragua has an average annual production of 30,000,000 pounds.

Coffee was introduced into Costa Rica in the latter part of the eighteenth century; one authority saying that the plants were brought from Cuba in 1779 by a Spanish voyager, Navarro, and another saying that the first trees were planted several years later by Padre Carazo, a Spanish missionary coming from Jamaica. For more than a century six big coffee trees standing in a courtyard in the city of Cartago were pointed out to visitors as the very trees that Carazo had planted.

The coffee-producing districts are principally on the Pacific slope and in the central plateaus of the interior. Plantations are located in the provinces of Cartago, Tres Rios, San José, Heredia, and Alajuela. In the province of Cartago are several extensive new estates on the slope to the Atlantic coast. The San José and the Cartago districts are considered by many to be the best naturally for the coffee tree. The soil is an exceedingly rich black loam made up of continuous layers of volcanic ashes and dust from three to fifteen feet deep. Preferable altitudes for plantations range from 3,000 to 4,500 feet, although a height of 5,000 feet is not out of use and there are some estates that do fairly well on levels as low as 1,500 feet.

The Modern Idea in Coffee Cultivation, Costa Rica The Modern Idea in Coffee Cultivation, Costa Rica

India. Tradition has it that a Moslem pilgrim in the seventeenth century brought from Mecca to India the first coffee seeds known in that country. They were planted near a temple on a hill in Mysore called Baba Budan, after the pilgrim; and from there the cultivation of coffee gradually spread to neighboring[Pg 226] districts. Aside from this legend, nothing further is heard about coffee in India until the early part of the nineteenth century, when its existence there was confirmed by the granting of a charter to Fort Gloster, near Calcutta, authorizing that place to become a coffee plantation.

Picking Costa Rica Coffee Picking Costa Rica Coffee

Planting was begun on the flat land of the plains, but the trees did not thrive. Then the cultivation was extended to the hills in southern India, especially in Mysore, where better success was achieved. The first systematic plantation was established in 1840. For the most part, the production has always been confined to southern India in the elevated region near the southwestern coast. The coffee district comprises the landward slopes of the Western Ghats, from Kanara to Travancore.

About one-half of the coffee-producing area is in Mysore; and other plantations are in Kurg (Coorg), the Madras districts of Malabar, and in the Nilgiri hills, those regions having 86 percent of the whole area under cultivation. Some coffee is grown also in other districts in Madras, principally in Madura, Salem, and Coimbator, in Cochin, in Travancore, and, on a restricted scale, in Burma, Assam, and Bombay. The area returned as under coffee in 1885 was 237,448 acres; in 1896, as 303,944 acres. Since then there has been a progressive decrease on account of damage from leaf diseases difficult to combat, and by competition with Brazilian coffee.

Coffee Estate in the Mountains of Costa Rica Coffee Estate in the Mountains of Costa Rica

[Pg 227]

New land that had just been planted with coffee in plantations reported for 1919–20 amounted to 7,012 acres; while the area abandoned was 8,725 acres, representing a net decrease in cultivated area of 1,713 acres.

Bird's-Eye View of a Coffee Estate in Mysore, India Bird's-Eye View of a Coffee Estate in Mysore, India

Of the total area devoted to coffee cultivation (126,919 acres), 49 percent was in Mysore, which yielded 35 percent of the total production; while Madras, with 23 percent of the total area, yielded 38 percent of the production. The total production for the year 1920–21 is reported as 26,902,471 pounds.

Yield varies throughout the country according to the methods of cultivation and the condition of the season. On the best estates in a good season, the yield per acre may be as high as 1,100 or 1,200 pounds, and on poor estates it may not be over 200 or 300 pounds. The arabica variety is chiefly cultivated. The robusta and Maragogipe have been tried, but without much success.

A representative plantation is the Santaverre in Mysore, comprising 400 acres, at an elevation of from 4,000 to 4,500 feet, where the coffee trees, cultivated under shade, produce from 100 to 250 tons of coffee a year. Other prominent estates in Mysore are Cannon's Baloor and Mylemoney, the Hoskahn, and the Sumpigay Khan.

Nicaragua. Coffee trees will grow well anywhere in Nicaragua, but the best locations have altitudes of from 2,000 to 3,000 feet above sea level. At such elevations the yield varies from one pound to five pounds per tree annually; but above or below those, the average production diminishes to from one pound to one-half pound a tree.

Lands most suitable for the berry are on the Sierra de Managua, in Diriambe, San Marcos, and Jinotega, and about the base of the volcano Monbacho near Granada. Good land is also found on the island Omotepe in Lake Nicaragua, and around Boaco in the department of Chontales, where cultivation was begun in 1893.

There are also plantations in the vicinity of Esteli and Lomati in the department of Neuva Segovia. The most extensive operations are in the departments of Managua, Carazo, Matagalpa, Chontales, and Jinotega, and from those regions the annual crop has attained to such quantity that it has become the chief agricultural product of the republic. Poor and costly means of transportation on the Atlantic slope have operated to retard the development[Pg 228] of the industry there, even though conditions of climate are not unfavorable.

Coffee Growing Under Shade, Ubban Estate, India Coffee Growing Under Shade, Ubban Estate, India

Abyssinia. In the absence of any conclusive evidence to the contrary, the claim that coffee was first made known to modern man by the trees on the mountains of the northeastern part of the continent of Africa may be accepted without reserve. Undoubtedly the plant grew wild all through tropical Africa; but its value as an addition to man's dietary was brought forth in Abyssinia.

Abyssinia, while it may have given coffee to the world, no longer figures as a prime factor in supplying the world, and now exports only a limited quantity. There are produced in the country two coffees known to the trade as Harari and Abyssinian, the former being by far the more important. The Harari is the fruit of cultivated arabica trees grown in the province of Harar, and mostly in the neighborhood of the city of Harar, capital of the province. The Abyssianian is the fruit of wild arabica trees that grow mainly in the provinces of Sidamo, Kaffa, and Guma.

The coffee of Harar is known to the trade as Mocha longberry or Abyssinian longberry. Most of the plantations upon which it is raised are owned by the native Hararis, Galla, and Abyssinians, although there are a few Greek, German, and French planters. The trees are planted in rows about twelve or fifteen feet apart, and comparatively little attention is given to cultivation. Crops average two a year, and sometimes even five in two years. The big yield is in December, January, and February. The average crop is about seventy pounds, and is mostly from small plots of from fifty to one hundred trees, there being no very large plantations. All the coffee is brought into the city of Harar, whence it is sent on mule-back to Dire-Daoua on the Franco-Ethiopian Railway, and from there by rail to Jibuti. Some of it is exported directly from Jibuti, and the rest is forwarded to Aden, in Arabia, for re-exporting.

Abyssinian, or wild, coffee is also known as Kaffa coffee, from one of the districts where it grows most abundantly in a state of nature. This coffee has a smaller bean and is less rich in aroma and flavor than the Harari; but the trees grow in such profusion that the possible supply, at the minimum of labor in gathering, is practically unlimited. It is said that in southwestern[Pg 229] Abyssinia there are immense forests of it that have never been encroached upon except at the outskirts, where the natives lazily pick up the beans that have fallen to the ground. It is shelled where it is found, in the most primitive fashion, and goes out in a dirty, mixed condition.

Formerly, much of this Kaffa coffee was sent to market through Boromeda, Harar, and Dire-Daoua. An average annual crop was about 6,000 bags, or 800,000 pounds, of which something more than one-half usually went through Harar. A customs and trading station has lately been established at Gambela, on the Sobat River: and with the development of this outlet, there has been a substantial and increasing exploitation of the wild-coffee plants since 1913. Large areas of land have been cleared, with a view to cultivation, and attention is being given to improved methods of harvesting and of preparing the coffee for the market. At one time a fair amount of coffee from this region went to Adis Abeba on the backs of pack mules, a journey of thirty-five or forty days, and then was carried to Jibuti, nearly 500 miles, part of the way by rail. Now practically all of it goes to Gambela, thence by steamers to Khartoum, and by rail to the shipping-point at Port Sudan on the Red Sea.

Other African Countries. Practically every part of Africa seems to be suitable for coffee cultivation, even United South Africa, in the southern part of the continent, producing 140,212 pounds in 1918. To name all the countries in which it is grown would be to list nearly all the political divisions of Africa. Among the largest producers are the British East African Protectorate, 18,735,572 pounds in 1918; French Somaliland, 11,222,736 pounds in 1917; Angola, 10,655,934 pounds in 1913; Uganda, 9,999,845 pounds in 1918; former German East Africa, 2,334,450 pounds in 1913; Cape Verde Islands, 1,442,910 pounds in 1916; Madagascar, 707,676 pounds in 1918; Liberia, 761,300 pounds in 1917; Eritrea, 728,840 pounds in 1918; St. Thomas and Prince's Islands, 484,350 pounds in 1916; and the Belgian Congo, 375,000 pounds in 1917.

A Galla Coffee Grower, and His Helper, in His Grove of Young Trees near Harar A Galla Coffee Grower, and His Helper, in His Grove of Young Trees near Harar

Angola. Coffee is Angola's second product, and there are large areas of wild-coffee trees. With a production of nearly 11,000,000 pounds, Angola ranks about third in Africa as a coffee-growing country. The coffee is gathered and sold by[Pg 230] the natives, and there are also several European companies engaged in the coffee business. The chief coffee belt extends from the Quanza River northward to the Kongo at an altitude of 1,500 to 2,500 feet. In the Cazengo valley the wild trees are so thick that thinning out is the only operation necessary to the plantation-owner. When the trees become too tall, they are simply cut off about two feet above ground; and new shoots appear from the trunks the following season.

The largest coffee plantation, owned by the Companhia Agricola de Cazengo, produced in 1913, a record year, nearly 1,500 tons.

Liberia. Coffee is native to Liberia, growing wild in the hinterland of the negro republic, and in the natural state the trees often attain a height of from thirty to forty feet. Cultivated Liberian coffee, Coffea liberica, has become a staple of the civilized inhabitants of the country, and is grown successfully in hot, moist lowlands or on hills that are not much elevated. On account of the size of the trees, only about four hundred can be planted to the acre. In recent years the native Africans have been planting thousands of trees in the district of Grand Cape Mount. Coffee is grown in all parts of the republic, but chiefly in Grand Cape Mount and Montserrado.

General Outlook in Africa. In the African countries under control of European governments much recent progress has been made in promoting coffee growing and in improving methods of cultivation.

British interests were reported in 1919 as having started a movement toward reviving interest in the coffee growing industry in the British possessions in Africa. The report stated that Uganda, in the East African Protectorate, had 21,000 acres under coffee cultivation, with 16,000 acres more in other parts of the Protectorate, and 1,300 acres in Nyasaland; also that there is no hope of an immediate revival of the industry in Natal, where it was killed twenty years ago by various pests; "but it should certainly be established in the warmer parts of Rhodesia; and in the northern part of the Transvaal an effort is being made to bring this form of enterprise into practical existence."

Coffee growing possibilities in British East Africa (Kenya Colony) are alluring, according to reports from planters in that region. Late in 1920, Major C.J. Ross, a British government officer there, said that "British East Africa is going to be one of the leading coffee countries of the world." Coffee grows wild in many parts of the Protectorate, but the natives are too lazy to pick even the wild berries.

On the more advanced plantations in all parts of Africa the approved cultivation methods of other leading countries are carefully followed; especial care being given to weeding and pruning, because of the rank growth of the tropics. On the whole, however, little attention is given to intensive methods.

Arabia. Whether the coffee tree was first discovered indigenous in the mountains of Abyssinia, or in the Yemen district of Arabia, will probably always be a matter of contention. Many writers of Europe and Asia in the fifteenth century, when coffee was first brought to the attention of the people of Europe, agree on Arabia; but there is good reason to believe the plant was brought to Arabia from Abyssinia in the sixth century.

Once all the coffee of Arabia went to the outside world through the port of Mocha on the eastern coast of the Red Sea. Mocha, which never raised any coffee, is no longer of commercial importance; but its name has been permanently attached to the coffee of this country.

Mocha (Moka, or Morkha) coffee (i.e. Coffea arabica) is raised principally in the vilayet of Yemen, a district of southeastern Arabia. Yemen extends from the north, southerly along the line of the Red Sea, nearly to the Gulf of Aden. With the exception of a narrow strip of land along the shores of the Red Sea, the Strait of Bab-el-Mandeb, and the Gulf of Aden, it is a rugged, mountainous region, in which innumerable small valleys at high elevations are irrigated by waters from the melting snows of the mountains.

Coffee can be successfully grown in any part of Yemen, but its cultivation is confined to a few widely scattered districts, and the acreage is not large. The principal coffee regions are in the mountains between Taiz and Ibb, and between Ibb and Yerim, and Yerim and Sanaa, on the caravan route from Taiz to Sanaa; between[Pg 231] Zabeed and Ibb, on the route from Taiz to Zabeed; between Hajelah and Menakha, on the route from Hodeida to Sanaa, and in the wild mountain ranges both to the north and south of that route; between Beit-el-Fakih and Obal; and between Manakha and Batham to the north of Bajil. The plant does best at elevations ranging from 3,500 to 6,500 feet.

Wild Kaffa Coffee Trees Near Adis Abeba Wild Kaffa Coffee Trees Near Adis Abeba

In the Yemen district, coffee is generally grown in small gardens. Large plantations, as they exist in other coffee-growing countries, are not seen in Arabia. Many of these small farms may be parts of a large estate belonging to some rich tribal chief. The native Arabs do not use coffee in the way it is used elsewhere in the world. They drink kisher, a beverage brewed from the husks of the berry and not from the bean. Consequently, the entire crop goes into export. But bad conditions of trade routes, political disturbances, and small regional wars, absence of good cultivation methods, and heavy transit taxes imposed by the government, have combined to restrict the production of Yemen coffee.

Land for the coffee gardens is selected on hill-slopes, and