From Agepedia

Jump to: navigation , search

COFFEE is the seed of an evergreen shrub, which is cultivated in hot climates, and is chiefly imported from Arabia and the East and West Indies.This shrub [cqffeaArabica) is from 15 to 20 feet in height. Tho leaves are 4 or 5 inches long, and 2 broad, smooth, green, glossy on the upper surface; and the flowers, which grow in bunches at the base of the leaves, are white and jsweetscented. The berries and frwit are somewhat of an oval shape, about the size of a cherry, and of a darkred color when ripe. Each of these contains two cells, and each cell a single seed, which is the coffee as we see it before it undergoes the process of roasting.Coffee is an article of but recent introduction. To the Greeks and Romans it was wholly unknown. Its use appears to have originated in Ethiopia ; and it is stated to have been first introduced into Constantinople in 1554, from whence it was gradually adopted in the western parts of Europe. The information we have respecting its introduction into England is, that, in 1652, Daniel Edwards, a Turkey merchant, brought home with him a Greek servant, whose name was Pasqua, and who understood the methods of roasting coffee, and making it into a beverage. This man was the first who publicly sold coffee in England, and kept a house for that purpose in George yard, Lombard street. At Paris, coffee was nearly unknown, until the arrival of the Turkish ambassador Solomon Aga, in 1669; about three years after which the first coffeehouse is said to have been established in that city. The coffeeshrub was originally planted in Jamaica in 1732. Great attention is paid to the culture of coffee in Arabia. The trees are raised from seed sown in nurseries, and afterwards planted out in moist and shady situations, on sloping grounds, or at the foot of mountains. Care is taken to conduct little rills of water to the roots of the trees, which, at certain seasons, require to be constantly surrounded with moisture. As sooji as the fruit is nearly ripe, the water is turned off, lest the fruit should be rendered too succulent. In places much exposed to the south, the trees are planted in rows, and are shaded from the otherwise too intense heat of the sun, by a branching kind of poplartree. When the fruit has attained its maturity, cloths are placed under the trees, and upon these the laborers shake it down. They afterwards spread the berries on mats, and expose them to the sun to dry. The husk is then broken off by large and heavy rollers of wood or iron. When the coffee has been thus cleared of its husk, it is again dried in the sun, and, lastly, winnowed with a Jarge fan, for the purpose of clearing it from the pieces of husks with which it is intermingled. A pound of coffee is gen erally more than the produce of one tree; but a tree in great vigor will produce three or four pounds.The best coffee is imported from Mocha, on the Red sea. This kind, which is denominated Mocha and Turkey coffee, is of a better quality than any which the European colonists are able to raise, owing, as it is supposed, to the difference of climate and soil in which it grows. It is packed in large bales, each containing a number of smaller bales, and, when good, appears fresh, and of a greenisholive color. The coffee next in esteem to this is raised in Java and the East Indies ; and that of lowest price, in the West Indies and Brazil. When stowed in ships, with rum, pepper, or other articles, it is said that coffee contracts a rank and unpleasant flavor; and this has been assigned as a reason of the inferiority of that which is imported from the European plantations. The quantity of coffee annually supplied by Arabia is supposed to be upwards of 14,000,000 of pounds. Before the commencement of the French revolution, the island of St. Domingo alone exported more than 70,000,000 of pounds per annum ; and, at the present day, such is the fertility of this island, that sufficient coffee is raised to reduce the price greatly in all parts of the civilized world. Almost all the Mohammedans drink coffee at least twice a day, very hot, and without sugar. The excellence of coffee depends, in a great measure, on the skill and attention exercised in roasting it. If it be too little roasted, it is devoid of flavor, and if too much, it becomes acrid, and has a disagreeable, burnt taste. In Europe, it is usually roasted in a cylindrical tin box, perforated with numerous holes, and fixed upon a spit, which runs lengthwise through the centre, and is turned by a jack, or by the hand. Coffee is used in the form either of an infusion or decoction, of which the former is decidedly preferable, both as regards flavor and strength. Coffee, as very commonly prepared by persons unacquainted with its nature, is a decoction, and is boiled for some time, under a mistaken notion that the strength is not extracted unless it be boiled. But the fact is just the reverse. The fine aromatic oil, which produces the flavor and strength of coffee, is dispelled and lost by boiling, and a mucilage is extracted at the same time, which also tends to make it flat and weak. The best modes are, to pour boiling water through the coffee in a biggin or strainer, which is found to extract nearly all the strength; or to pour boiling water upon it, and set it upon the fire, notto exceed 10 minutes. Prepared in either way, it is fine and strong. As a medicine, strong coffee is a powerful stimulant and cordial, and, in paroxysms of the asth'ma, is one of the best remedies; but it should be very strong, and made with almost as much coffee as water. In faintness or exhaustion from labor and fatigue, and from sickness, coffee is one of the most cordial and delicious restoratives. There are coffeemachines, in which the water is boiled, and the steam penetrates the coffee, and extracts, to a great degree, the fine aroma. Immediately after, the boiling water is poured over it. Thus the best coffee is made. As we have already said, in Europe, coffee is generally roasted in a cylinder; in Asia, however, open pans or tin plates are used, and, if the time allows, a boy is employed, who picks out every bean, when it has reached the right degree of brownness. The same is done by some French people. The second difference in the Asiatic way of preparing coffee is, that they pound the beans, and do not grind them, much preferring the former mode. In Marseilles, we have seen coffee likewise pounded. Whether this is really preferable, we do not venture to decide; but experience has taught us that the Asiatic coffee is, on the whole, much better than the European. The difference is probably owing to the different way of roasting. The Turks and Arabs boil the coffee, it is true, but they boil each cup by itself, and only for a moment, so that the effect is, in fact, much the same as that of infusion, and not like that of decoction. They do not separate the coffee itself from the infusion, but leave the whole in the cup. It improves the beverage very much to roast and grind the coffee just before it is used.The Turks drink coffee at all times of day, present it to visitors both in the forenoon and afternoon, and the opiumeater lives almost entirely on coffee and opium. Beaujour, in his excellent work on Greece, tells of a theriacophage (an opiumeater), who drank more than 60 cups of coffee in a day, and smoked as many pipes. Coffee has been the favorite beverage of many distinguished men. Napoleon and Frederic the Great drank it freely; Voltaire liked it very strong; and Leibnitz drank it also during the whole day, but mixed with more than an equal quantity of milk. The best coffee, in the western part of the world, is made in France, where this beverage is in universal request. In fact, throughout the continent of Europe, it is generally drank. In England, however, tea is a more common drink. In England and the U. States, coffee, almost always, is badly made. The coffeehouses in France, it is well known, are places which afford much opportunity for interesting observation. In the south of France, they are still more frequented than in the north. The different cafes of the pedals royal in Paris are famous: the cafe des mille colonnes is one of the most splendid. The cafe de lapaix contains a small theatre. In the cafe des avengles, every evening, blind men and women ofthe hospice des quinzevingts play and sing. Those coffeehouses, in France, where smoking is allowed, are called estaminets, which is also the name of the beerhouses in Holland. One of the greatest attractions in French coffeehouses is the limonadiere, a woman who sits in an elevated seat, to attend to the sale of the refreshments. She is generally very pretty, and is dressed with much taste. With genuine French tact, she represses all improper freedoms. The coffeehouses in London are poor.In the East, the coffeehouses, or rather booths, form a very essential part ofthe social system; all men of leisure assembling there. In these places are also to be found the famous storytellers, who repeat long tales to attentive hearers, who show their interest by exclamations of " God save him! Allah deprive him of his eyes!" &c, or utter warning cries to alarm the hero when danger awaits him. It often happens, that the story is broken off, and continued the next day. There is a highly interesting manuscript in the royal library at Paris, in Arabic, entitled, the Support of Innocence. It relates to the lawfulness of using coffee. The author is Aljeziri Alhanbali. Of this De Sacy gives an account and extracts in his Chrestomathie Arabe (vol. i, p. 441). It appears that a question arose, whether coffee was to be included among the intoxicating beverages which the Koran prohibits; and the manuscript proves that it is not. There are many other interesting matters in these extracts. The sheikh, the writer of the manuscript, proves that the use of coffee was first introduced by a famous sheikh, imam, mufti and scholar of Arabia Felix, called Dhabanij about the year 870 of tnc, Hegira. In Egypt, the drinking of coffee seems to have been at first regarded almost as a religious ceremony. The devotees, who introduced it there, assembled for the purpose of enjoying it on Monday and Friday evenings, when it was handed round with great solemnity, accomyianied with many prayers, and ever and anon with exclamations of " There is no God but God!" There are also mentioned, in the manuscript above cited, two different methods of making coffee, one called buniyya, in which the grain and husk are used together, and another called kishariyya, in which the husk is used alone. Many sermons against coffeedrinking are extant, written at the time when it was introduced into Europe; as there are also many sermons against smoking. We recollect having read the following passage in an old sermon: "They cannot wait until the smoke of the infernal regions surrounds them, but encompass themselves with smoke of their own accord, and drink a poison which God made black, that it might bear the devil's color."The following table shows the amount of coffee imported into, and exported from, the U. States, during several years: Imported. Exported.In 1821, £1,273, $2,087,479" 1822, 25,782,390 " " 1,653,607" 1823, 37,337,732 " " 4,262,699" 1824, 39,224,251 " " 2,923,079" 1825, 45,190,630 " " 3,254,936" 1826, 37,319,497 " " 1,449,022" 1827, 50,051,986 " " 2,324,784 England imported,in 1824,............50,674,249" 1825,...........52,597,518" 1826, ...........42,017,092" 1827,............47,938,047 Quarter ending April 5, 1828,............7,108,889 Quantity of coffee exported from Great Britain, from Jan. 5,1827, to Jan. 5, 1828: British plantation,......12,442,246 Foreign plantation,.....12,378,340 East India,........... 4,655,104 Total,......29,475,690