The Islamic History of Coffee

Omer Aziz: Despite the spiritual inducements to forgive during this holy month, there is an especially vicious bone I have to pick with how the subject of coffee is written about. It seems that there are new books about coffee published every year; this means essays and commentaries where the writer will surely expound at length on all subjects related to coffee— and yet will ignore the first and most essential fact about the history of everyone’s favorite beverage: that coffee was first discovered in the Islamic world, in fifteenth-century Ethiopia to be precise, and first used by Sufi Muslims in Yemen as an aid for prayer and worship.

There’s more. The institution of the coffee-house, popularly associated with the Enlightenment and Europe, was also birthed in the Islamic world, and reached its apex across all the cities of the Levant and Turkey long before it migrated to Europe.

If this is news to you, do not be frightened: I was right there, only two years ago, drunk off coffee and Eurocentric history. More here.

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