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Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Coffee and So Much More!

Do you know that our obsession with coffee can be traced back to the 15th century?
The story goes that an Arab named Khalid was tending his goats in the Kaffa region of southern Ethiopia, when he noticed his animals became livelier after eating a certain berry. He boiled the berries to make the first coffee. Certainly the first record of the drink is of beans exported from Ethiopia to Yemen where Sufis drank it to stay awake all night to pray on special occasions. By the late 15th century it had arrived in Mecca and Turkey from where it made its way to Venice in 1645. It was brought to England in 1650 by a Turk named Pasqua Rosee who opened the first coffee house in Lombard Street in the City of London. The Arabic qahwa became the Turkish kahve then the Italian caffé and then English coffee.

An article, "How Islamic Inventors Changed the World," mentions coffee, soap, and 18 more inventions. The inventions are part of an exhibit at the Manchester (U.K.) Science Museum. Not many of us will be able to visit in person, but we can take a virtual trip by going to 1001 Inventions

We have a number of books on the history of inventions including Arab Science and Invention in the Golden Age by Anne Blanchard [J 509.17 BLA] and A History of Invention: From Stone Axes to Silicon Chips by Trevor I. Williams [609 WIL].

Image from 1001inventions.com


  1. I see that the blog has rolled on, so this comment is a bit outdated, but I had not heard of the new bio of Emily Dickinson, so thanks for the heads-up! Next to Frost, she is my absolute favorite!

  2. Doesn't it sound interesting!