Initially, coffee was brewed from green, unroasted coffee beans to yield a tea-like beverage. The processing methods were further refined as coffee spread throughout the Arabian Peninsula and later through the Ottoman Empire to Turkey. The modern coffee drink was invented at the end of 15th century, when roasting and crushing the coffee beans before extracting them with hot water grew in acceptance. Because this method of making coffee first became popular in Turkey, the travelers, traders, and pilgrims who were introduced to this beverage referred to it as “Turkish Coffee.”


The world’s first known coffee shop, Kiva Han, opened in Constantinople in 1475, followed by numerous others that opened across Arabia and Turkey. As coffee became widely popular, religious Moslems were insulted that their sacramental drink was being shared by secular sippers and placed a ban on coffee houses. The Sheikh Ul-Islam issued a proclamation to the effect that drinking coffee “is not religiously permissible.”

Eventually, even the secular leaders were threatened by the power of coffee. The leaders of the Ottoman Empire saw it as a threat to their rule. They noticed that gathering together in coffee fueled conversation stimulated people to discuss important issues, such as the suitability of the rulers. They feared that unpopular political philosophies, social unrest, and possibly revolution were brewing in these coffee cabals. In 1656, the Ottoman Grand Vizier Koprulu established laws that shut down the coffee houses and outlawed coffee drinking all together. If a person broke this law, they were beaten with a club called a ‘cudgel.’ The second time they were caught they were sewn up in a leather bag and thrown into the nearest river to drown.

One of the most interesting facts in the history of coffee drinks is that wherever it has been introduced it has spelled revolution. It has been the world’s most radical drink in that its function has always been to make people think. And when the people begin to think they become dangerous to tyrants and to the foes of liberty of thoughts and action.

-William Ukers; from his seminal book, All about Coffee