When did people start drinking coffee?
The stories in this respect are many and various: some say the first people to recognize its stimulating effects were the inhabitants of Ethiopia, who chewed raw coffee beans; others suggest that coffee is a descendant of the drink called “Arabian wine”, obtained from the fermented juice of stone fruits; lastly, there are those who identify the origin of coffee in a warm infusion called “qahwah” (stimulant), prepared by nomadic people with coffea seeds dried in the sun, roughly ground and mixed with animal fat.
The 11th century philosopher Avicenna recommended that coffee, which was used mainly in religious ceremonies for night vigils or for therapeutic purposes, should be used in treating gall stones, gout, measles and coughs. It was not until the 16th century that coffee became the symbol of conviviality: in Egypt, Syria and Constantinople, public premises began to appear for its preparation and consumption. And then in 1615 came the turn of Venice, from where it spread throughout Europe. Toward the middle of the 17th century, coffee began to be imported and consumed in England, where the first coffee houses appeared, and spread with remarkable speed throughout the whole kingdom.
The other great European capitals followed and, immediately after, the new cities of America. By now the drink, and places established especially for its consumption, had also become part of the European and Western life and culture.