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Free Coffee Ebook: Coffee Botany Leaflet Museum Of Natural History 1938

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Coffee BookBrush up on some coffee history with this leaflet entitled “COFFEE.” It was published in 1938 by the Field Museum Of Natural History, Chicago and written by B. E. Dahlgren, the Chief Curator of the Department Of Botany at the time. The following is an excerpt from the book:

The coffee tree is of African origin but makes its first appearance as a cultivated plant in the southwestern corner of the Arabian peninsula. The first positive account of it is found in an Arabic manuscript of the fifteenth century. It was then being grown in the mountains of Yemen on the eastern border of the Red Sea, probably having been introduced by Abyssinian invaders one or two hundred years before. The fact that coffee is not mentioned in the Koran supports the belief that its preiT vious history in Arabia had been relatively short. It is thought to have come into common use there only in the S fourteenth century.

In the absence of historical information Arabic legends attribute its introduction to various Musulman personages famous for their merits or for their devotions, such as the Sheikh Shadili of Mocha, the patron saint of Moham- S- medan coffee merchants, or the Mufty Gemaleddin, who, having seen coffee drunk in Persia, made use of it himself and introduced the custom in Aden.

A well-known story from Syria, many times retold, is of the monastery goatherd whose charges became lively to the point of refusing their customary siesta after browsi. ing on the leaves and the fruit of a strange bush, and of the Mollah conceiving the idea of trying its effect on his monks who were given to somnolence at evening prayers. The fact that the coffee tree grows wild in various parts of Africa, especially in the mountains of Southern Abyssinia, where it has undoubtedly been used since ancient times and is now gathered for export from wild plants, was not discovered until the European exploration of Africa was begun. In the meantime coffee remained definitely associated only with Arabia. The Arabic name, like the Abyssinian, for the tree, bun or el-bunn, is applied also to the fruit and even to the coffee powder. The Arabic name for the brew is kahwa, from which come the word coffee and its variants in European languages. The scientific designation of the plant, Coffea arabica, was conferred upon it by Linnaeus in 1756. If its African origin had been known to the great classifier, he would probably have called it abyssinica or ethiopica. The existence of various other species of coffee, growing wild in Africa, is of relatively recent discovery. Many of these have been tried in cultivation and a few of them are being grown on a large scale, but the so-called Arabian coffee remains by far the most important and most widely planted species.

The use of the dark brown brew as a social and ceremonial beverage apparently originated and developed in Arabia. At first the drink of the learned and religious only, it gradually came into general use. The manner of its preparation and serving there is described by Doughty in his Arabia Secreta.

“In every coffee sheykh’s tent there is a new fire blown in the hearth, and he sets in his coffee pots; then snatching a coal in his fingers he will lay it in his tobaccopipe. A few coffee beans received from his housewife are roasted and brayed; as all is boiling he sets out the little cups, fenjeyl (for fenjeyn) which we saw have been made, for the uningenious Arabs, in the West. The roasted beans are pounded amongst Arabs with a magnanimous rattle . . . and (as all their labour) rhythmical—in brass of the town, of an old wooden mortar, gayly studded with nails, the work of some nomad smith. The water bubbling in the small dellal, he cast in his fine coffee powder, el-bunn, and withdraws the pot to simmer a moment.

Quite an interesting read, you can download it yourself.

COFFEE BY B. E. DAHLGREN, Chief Curator, Department Of Botany Botany Leaflet 22 FIELD MUSEUM OF NATURAL HISTORY, CHICAGO 1938


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