Around the early 1600’s pope Clement III was asked to ban the evil new beverage called coffee or Kahve by the lemonade vendors of Rome. Although coffee was by now a firm favourite within the capital the lemonade vendors were furious as their livelihoods were being threatened. As with most things back in the day it was already a done deal and it was rumored that the Pope was already on three cups a day. So a blessing was issued and the pope never paid for a bean again.
The oldest known coffee shop in the world is situated on Piazza San Marco in Venice. Caffe Florian was Established in 1720 and is still going strong. Café Greco in Rome is also up there and opened in 1760. It is rumoured to be the most expensive place to buy a coffee but I beg to differ. $9 for a latte in the basement of the Waldorf NY. Really!
On 29th of December 1675 King Charles II of England banned coffee houses and the sale or consumption of coffee. His sage of the day argued that coffee houses were bad for moral and were not to be tolerated. Mecca was next to have a go at the precious brew and in 1511 it was banned as a stimulant, bang on it certainly lights my wick.
Finally After Murad IV took the throne of the Ottoman Empire he declared that coffee was to be forbidden. First offence was a bit of a slap, second offence you were to be sewn into a leather bag and thrown into the Bosporus, charming.
My good friend Aldo took me to his favourite coffee house in Napoli. The place was packed and there were four barista’s behind the bar all looking at the throng of people waiting to be served but not really bothered about serving them. A few people were tapping their cups with a Euro and hey presto prompt service. The barista’s would not consider service unless the tip was already in the bag so to speak.
In the first days of the wild west the Scandinavians were the main coffee influencers of the day, the scandies love their coffee. Coffee was a luxury on the trail and many a cowboy had his stash. This is where the Americans get the term sock juice for bad coffee. The cowboys used to use their socks as a sieve for coffee made in a pan on the campfire. Yuck, I shudder to think what they used if a sock were to be unavailable.
Although the European coffee drinkers are now mainly latte and cappuccino drinkers, the main brew in the US of A is filter coffee. That’s amazing when you consider the size of the US. Tea is still the most consumed beverage in The UK! When I lived in Yorkshire for a bit Yorkshire tea used to sell out first in the supermarket. I’m still looking for those tea plantations in Yorkshire they must be there somewhere.
Instant coffee was first tried during the American civil war, so bad was the taste that the union soldiers refused to drink it. Various methods were undertaken over the years but it wasn’t until coffee could be sprayed and freeze dried, around 1938, that coffee could be used instantly. Bingo now everyone could have a cup of coffee instantly but boy does it cost. A 200g jar will typically cost between seven and twelve English pounds, that equates to £60 per kilo! We are paying top dollar for instant coffee, It’s a myth that instant coffee is cheap, more of that later.