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Coffee - the Wine of Islam Print

Coffee was at one stage purely associated with Muslims to the extent that Europeans called it, "The wine of Islam."


More than 500 billion cups of coffee are consumed annually throughout the world. Coffee is the world's second-most-valuable commodity exporting by developing countries, after oil. The global coffee industry earns an estimated $60 billion annually. Medical researchers associate positive health benefits to moderate coffee consumption, including improved mood and the prevention of gallstone and kidney stone formation.



The coffee plant originally grew in Ethiopia where a goatherd called Khalid or Kaldi first noticed its energetic effects on his goats which ate the coffee-berries. Yemen is however the true home of coffee as a beverage.


Umar, a sufi of Yemen, was renowned for his ability to cure the sick through both dua and medicine. Some people however opposed him and exiled him to the desert outside the port of al-Mukhaa. He was close to dying when he stumbled across a small tree in the arid desert. Believing it to be a sign from Allah, the Shaykh attempted to eat the berries from the tree. The berries were however too bitter to eat. He built a fire, roasted the beans, and placed them into boiling water. The beans were still too hard to eat. The Shaykh then drank the boiled water. He recovered his strength and was sustained for days. He was eventually invited to return to al-Mukhaa.



Al-Mukhaa is thus called, "The home of Coffee," where coffee began to be cultivated and made into a beverage. The word, "al-Mukhaa" has been anglicized as, "mocha" referring to the city, coffee and a colour. "Coffee" comes from the Arabic, "Qahwah."


Members of Shaazali Sufi order consumed coffee to sustain their energy and concentration during their devotions. As the ash-Shaykh Abul-Hasan ash-Shaazali insisted that one should have a profession before joining the order, it was soon realised that coffee could be used for energy in "secular" work as well. Through the Shaazali order consumption of coffee spread throughout the lands of Islam about 600 years ago.


By 1616 the coffee trade was so lively that a Dutch visitor to al-Mukhaa wrote that he saw, "…a caravan of a thousand camels packed with coffee." The drink was so popular that the demand forced rapid increases in the price of coffee. This made the farmers and traders of coffee very wealthy. Many mansions and palaces were constructed in this region in the 1700's.


Yemeni beans have a unique flavour because of the height of the gardens - 3000 meters above sea level. The thin atmosphere and the strong sunlight result in an irresistible flavour when the beans are roasted. Yemen's coffee is considered the world's best.



In 1453 the Turks brought coffee to Istanbul. There the world's first coffee-shop, Kiva Han, was established in 1475. Turkish law allowed a woman to divorce her husband if he failed to provide her with her daily quota of coffee. In the following century the Mufti of Istanbul banned coffee. Coffee-houses were filled during times of Salaah and coffee was considered a drug. Whoever was apprehended drinking coffee a second time was tied in a leather bag and drowned in the Bosporus River. After a century the controversy died down.


When coffee reached Rome the priests condemned it and forbade drinking it. They argued that coffee was the drink of the devil. Satan had invented the drink for the "Moslem infidels" as a substitute for the wine they were forbidden to drink. Since wine in the Western Christian world was sanctified by Christ and used in Holy Communion, coffee must then be of the Anti-Christ. If a Christian drank this devil brew they would risk eternal damnation.


In 1600 Pope Clement VIII settled the dispute. He asked that the brew be brought before him. Intrigued by its powerful aroma, he sipped the coffee. It was delicious. The Pope blessed the coffee, and baptized it on the spot. He reasoned that banishing this drink from the Christian world would be a larger sin. With the Pope's blessing, imports of coffee to Italy and the Western world came flooding in. In 1645 the first coffeehouse in Italy was opened, 170 years after the first Muslim coffeehouse. By 1668 coffee replaced beer as New York's City's favourite breakfast drink. The Boston Tea Party in 1773 develops a culture of patriotic duty for Americans to drink coffee.


In 1675 the Turkish Army besieged Vienna. Franz Georg Kolschitzky, a Viennese who had lived in Turkey, slipped through the Turkish lines to lead relief forces to the city. The Turks left behind sacks which the Austrians thought to be "dry black fodder." Kolschitzky recognized it as coffee. He claimed it as his reward and opened central Europe's first coffeehouse. He also established the habit of refining the brew by filtering out the grounds, sweetening it, and adding a dash of milk.


In 1690 the Dutch smuggled a coffee plant out of al-Mukhaa. Coffee now began to be produced outside of Yemen as well.


In 1901 the Japanese-American chemist Satori Kato of Chicago invented the first soluble "instant" coffee.


Another interesting coffee trivia is that in 2001 Brazil issued a stamp which smelled of coffee. The smell was expected to last five years!



SANHA certifies Nestlé and Nescafé coffees as well as Chilla Ice Coffee (011 440 7640) and Oscoco (011 805 5626). Fego Caffé, the coffeehouse in the Lenasia Trade Route Mall is also SANHA certified.


sk/2007-10-31 13:18:43

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