[Sca-cooks] Questions on coffee

lilinah at earthlink.net lilinah at earthlink.net
Wed Jan 27 10:00:09 PST 2010

Stefan forwarded some wild fantasies about coffee from another list.

First, many scholars today are leaning toward what is now Ethiopia, 
formerly known as Abyssinia, as the place from which coffee 
originated, although the Yemen has also been under consideration.

That whole dancing goats and their goat boy herder story is complete 
fantasy, although all over the web.

>  * Coffee seems to have been drunk in Persia since the ninth century.

Coffee appears to have reached Persia in the 16th c. It was known 
during the reign of Shah Abbas I (1587 to 1629), but likely got there 
a bit earlier.

>  * Abu ibn Sina, known in the West as Avicenna, was acquainted with 
>coffee around the year 1000.

Bun is mentioned earlier by 9th & 10th c. Persian physician abu Bakr 
Muhammad ibn Zakariya al-Razi, known in Europe as Rhazes (865-925).

Perhaps someone confused him with mostly 11th c. Persian physician 
and philosopher Abu 'Ali al-Husayn ibn 'Abd Allah ibn Sina', known in 
Europe as Avicenna (c. 980-1037), who also mentioned bun.

Coffee was first used as a medication (hot and dry). However, it was 
the covering of coffee, known as bun, that was used, often made into 
a beverage. In some places bun refers to the coffee bean, and later 
the green beans were chewed... well before coffee beans were roasted 
and ground

The earliest reliable evidence of drinking coffee as we know it... 
roasted beans ground and brewed with hot water... comes from Sufi 
monasteries in the Yemen in the mid 15th c.

>  * 1475. The first coffee shop opens in Istanbul (Kiva Han).  It is 
>still open.

While coffee was being drunk in Syria in the late 15th c., it didn't 
reach Istanbul until the mid 16th c. The first coffee shop opened in 
1554, and, as far as i can determine, it is no longer open.

One of the most reliable sources, although not the only one, is:
Ralph S. Hattox
Coffee and Coffeehouses: The Origins of a Social Beverage in the 
Medieval Near East
Near Eastern Studies, #3.
University of Washington Press
Softcover, 1985
ISBN 0295962313

I served coffee at the end of a 16th c. Ottoman feast i cooked 
somewhat over 2 years ago, using palace recipes.

Constantinople/Istanbul is in Europe, but it isn't what most SCAdians 
think of as a typical European city. While some Western Europeans 
knew about coffee in the late 16th c., it doesn't seem to have made 
it to Christian Europe until the 17th c.

Urtatim [that's err-tah-TEEM]
the persona formerly known as Anahita

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