Archeological findings suggest that the beverage known as coffee originated in the Middle East
around 800 A.D..
The first actual references to coffee in literature
were made by Homer in the fourth canto of the
Odyssey, in which he mentions a beverage with
unusual characteristics. Around the year 1000,
the great Arab physician Avicenna made a cursory description of the drink.
Coffee was originally used on the Ethiopian
mountains by nomads and warriors of the Galla
tribe. Some historians claim that the word
"coffee" comes from the Ethiopian region "Kaffa",
the natural habitat of the Arabica plant. Coffee
indeed became a trade commodity thanks to
Arab merchants, who in the 14th century
distributed it to the whole of the Muslim world as
a substitute for alcoholic beverages prohibited by
the Koran. It was only introduced to Europe by
Venice some centuries later; the 17th and 18th
centuries saw the spread of the famous
"Botteghe del Caffe' ", the predecessor of the
modern café, meeting place of poets,
intellectuals and artists, who would discuss
politics and cultural matters while enjoying a cup
of hot coffee and a dessert.
empire became acquainted with coffee when the
Turkish siege of Vienna was defeated in 1683
and 500 bags of coffee were discovered in the
abandoned enemy camp.
The use of coffee spread throughout Italy as of
the 18th century - today it is difficult not to find at
least one historic venue in each town that has
some link to the distribution of the product. The
late 19th century witnessed the first "torrefazioni",
specialised in coffee roasting, who were the
exclusive suppliers of the botteghe del caffe'. The
roasters invented the first blends, to give their
products their own personal touch. After the
Second World War, coffee roasters gradually
broadened distribution to the public at large and
to cafés: the industrial-scale production of coffee
had begun. Today some 2,000 coffee roasters of
varying dimensions operate in Italy.
1645 - The first Café opens in Venice.
1672 - The first Gran Cafe' opens in Paris.
1700 - The coffee plant is exported by Arab
countries to the rest of the world.
1720 - Cafe' Florian is opened in Venice by
Floriano Francesconi, the European
example of the modern coffee shop.
1723 - France introduces the coffee plant to the
1727 - Portugal exports the coffee plant to Brazil.
1730 - England introduces the plant to Ceylon,
Jamaica, Cuba and Central America.
1730 - Spain introduces the plant to Colombia.