The history of coffee can be traced back to at least the 13th century, but if may have been used for years before that. After the 16th century, Dutch traders brought coffee plants to Italy, and from there coffee’s popularity spread through Europe and to the New World, aided by frequent trade between Venice and Muslim countries.
The English word coffee may have come, in various forms, from Kaffa in Ethiopia, where the plant originated.
Legend has it that a mystic saw some birds acting particularly lively, and experimented with the berries himself, but the first credible evidence of the coffee bean’s use was in monasteries in Yemen, where the monks used it to keep them awake during evening devotions.
In 1720 traders brought coffee plants to islands in the Caribbean, where plantation owners quickly realized the plant’s value, setting in motion the massive transport of slaves from Africa to Cuba to work the fields.
At various times, coffee has been forbidden, in Turkey and other places, but because of its popularity, the bans were always quickly overturned.
For myself, I’m just grateful to whomever the first man was who got past the bitter taste of the raw bean and experimented with making a tasty brew.
My reading list is an eclectic one, first, because I belong to two book clubs. Secondly, because I need an occasional fix for my historical novel habit, and lastly, because I need to do research for my own writing. Here are my latest reads in no particular order.
Marrying Mozart by Stephanie Cowell
The Hidden Diary of Marie Antoinette by Carolly Erickson
The Tsarina's Daughter by Carolly Erickson
Grave Goods by Ariana Franklin
Isabella D'Este: A Study of the Renaissance by Julia Cartwright
All Other Nights by Dara Hora
Claude and Camille by Stephanie Cowell
A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson
Sarah: A Novel by Marek Halter
South of Broad by Pat Conroy
Hotel on the Corner of Bitter & Sweet by Jamie Ford
The Outlaws of Medieval Legend by Maurice Keen
Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout
Loving Frank by Nancy Horan
Without Reservations: The Travels of an
Independent Woman byAlice Steinbach
Sacred Hearts by Sarah Dunant
Being a Pilgrim: Art and Ritual on the Medieval Routes to
Santiago by Ashley and Deegan
Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Shaffer and
Shanghai Girls by Lisa See
The Miracle of Prato by Laurie Albanese and Laura Morowitz