What Was The First Ever Coffeehouse?

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Coffee brings people together, and this is doubly true for a mobile coffee franchise, which lives to serve fantastic, high-quality coffee wherever people need it.

Whether served on the way to work or during breaks, coffee is the third most popular drink in the world of any kind, behind only water and tea, and some people simply cannot imagine starting the day without a hot cup.

However, unlike tea, which has existed for at least 5,000 years as a drink, or water, which has existed as long as the earth itself has, coffee is a relatively more recent brew. 

Whilst coffee trees have existed for a long time, the first brewed cup of coffee is around 600 years old and it quickly changed everything.


From Ethiopia To Yemen

The origins of the coffee tree before people knew about its unique properties are unclear other than it originally came from Africa and that the first coffee plants that were domesticated were based in Harar, West Ethiopia.

From there, it found its way into Yemen at some point in the 15th century according to accounts from historians and chroniclers of the era, although exactly how it did varies depending on which historian is asked.

The earliest account claims that Ali ben Omar al-Shadhili discovered coffee whilst staying in the region of Adal briefly, and he introduced it to Arabia, where it quickly spread throughout the Middle East to Egypt, Iraq and Türkiye.

According to historians who specialise in the history of the Middle East and the Ottoman Empire, this is seen as the more plausible story, compared to other popular legends such as the goatherd Kaldi in the ninth century spotting his energised animals chewing on the plant. 

Once its invigorating properties were discovered, it started to be widely used in religious rituals, particularly at sunrise and sunset, but the cultural effect coffee had would not stop there.


The Social Drink

Coffee has a reputation now for being a drink that brings people together, and in the 14th century Damascus, this was almost literally true when the first “qahveh khaneh” (coffee house) appeared.

Almost as quickly as it was discovered, coffee became a drink that was independent of class or caste, meaning that coffee houses became popular social hubs for all kinds of different people.

Its effect was so dramatic that it became known as the “Fourth Place”, after the home, workplace and mosque.

People gathered to drink coffee and chat with their friends, but they would also play chess, gamble on backgammon, chat and gossip about the news or the day’s events and even say potential scandalous or critical words without being scared of potential punishment.

As well as this, storytellers of both the fantastical and religious varieties would regularly form groups around them eager to hear their stories or listen to music.

Modern coffee shops and mobile vans that have live performances and vibrant conversation are following a tradition that spans hundreds of years and played a pivotal role in reducing the barriers between different people in society.