The Cultivation and Spread of Coffee

The Cultivation and Spread of Coffee

The Arabian Peninsula

Cultivation and trade of coffee began on the Arabian Peninsula from where it traveled to the East. By 15th century, coffee was being grown in the Yemeni district of Arabia owing to the favorable climate and soils. It was introduced to Sri Lanka by Muslim traders and travelers in 1505. Fertile coffee beans, the berries with their husks unbroken, were taken to South-West India by a Baba Budan on his return from pilgrimage to Mecca in the 17th century.

By 1517 coffee had reached Constantinople, the modern day Istanbul, following the conquest of Egypt by Salim I. It was established in Damascus by 1530 and in 1554, the first coffee houses, kaveh kanes,  opened in Istanbul. Their advent provoked religiously-inspired riots that temporarily closed them but they survived their critics. Soon their luxurious interiors became a regular rendezvous for those engaged in radical political thought and dissent.

TURKEY, Istanbul

Data regarding the introduction of coffee to the Ottoman culture vary as put forward by different scholars. Whereas Fernard Braudel argues that coffee was first used by Ottomans in 1511, Ulla Haise argues that the first use of coffee corresponded with the year 1516, when Yavuz Sultan Selim conquered Egypt. According to Burçak Evren, coffee reached Egypt via Yemen in 1519 and then it was brought to Istanbulc1

Coffee became widespread in Ottoman during the reign of Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent introduced to him by Özdemir Pasha, the Ottoman Governor of Yemen. He had grown to love the drink while stationed in that country. Coffee soon became a vital part of Ottoman’s palace cuisine from where it spread to the grand mansions then to the homes of the public.


The first coffeehouse in the Ottoman Empire was opened in 1555 during the era of  Suleiman the Magnificent, as stated in the history of Pecevi. Two Syrians brought the coffee, which was well known and used at that time in the Arab world, to Istanbul where they opened the coffeehouse in Tahtakale. Social activities have since the inception of these coffeehouses increased  in daily life.


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