Coffee History / 1700-1750
1700 - Samuel Carpenter builds Ye Coffee House in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on the eastern side of Front Street. This is Pennsylvania’s coffee house.
1710 – An infusion coffee brewing process is developed in France and uses a linen bag to submerse the coffee grounds in the hot water where it is allowed to infuse (steep) until the beverage reaches the desired strength.
1711 - Jonathan Swift, in The Conduct of Allies, states that, “It is the folly of too many to mistake the echo of a London coffeehouse for the voice of the kingdom.”
1712 – Stuttgart, Germany’s first coffee house opens.
The king enjoys the flavor of the coffee very much and instructs is royal court botanist to nurture the plant which would eventually serve as the progeny for virtually of of the West’s coffee plantations. (See 1723.) King Louis XIV’s court was said to have been the first regularly add sugar to their coffee.
1718 – The Dutch bring coffee to their colony of Surinam and then start plantations in French Guyana, then Brazil. This begins the spread of coffee growing throughout South America and Central America where it continues to be the major economic crop of the continent.
1720 – Venice’s renowned Caffe Florian coffee house opens in Piazza San Marco. By this time there are several hundred coffee houses in Paris.
1721 – Berlin, Germany’s first coffee house opens.
1722 – Jonathan Swift writes that, “Coffee makes us sever, and grave, and philosophical.”
1723 - The young French naval officer Gabriel Mathieu de Clieu [Captain Gabriel des Clieux], who was on leave in Paris, surreptitiously brought a coffee seedling back to Martinique in the Caribbean where he was stationed.
The coffee seedling was acquired from the Royal Jardin de Plantes (Royal Hothouse). De Clieu was able to secure the cutting from the botanist Antoine de Jussieu, who was said to have been “loath to disfigure the king’s coffee tree.”
On the ship returning to Martinique De Clieu endured stormy weather and water rationing as well as a close encounter with pirates, but he managed to keep the seedling alive for the voyage. De Clieu’s journal records the ordeal including be threatened by Tunisian pirates.
During the eventful voyage the coffee plant was kept protected in a class case on the ship’s deck in order to keep it warm and prevent any saltwater damage.
During a tumultuous storm they had to tie the plant down, and there was also an incident involving a fellow officer who was jealous of De Clieu and damaged the plant by tearing off a branch. When the ship’s water was rationed after the pirate ordeal De Clieu used much of his water for the precious coffee plant.
After finally completing the voyage, De Clieu planted the coffee in the fertile Martinique soil at Preebear – this began the American cultivation of coffee plants. The coffee plant thrived and soon multiplied. Three years after the replanting the first coffee harvest was realized.
The coffee plants of Martinique continue to flourish and by 1777, about five decades after De Clieu’s adventurous voyage, nearly nineteen million of the coffee plants were being grown on the island.
The original plants of Martinique are the progeny of all of the coffee in the French Colonies, and about 90% of all of the world’s coffee plants today came from this original stock.
Palheta, who a National Geographic article would later call the “James Bond” of coffee beans, was on a mission for his government, and the Emperor of Brazil, to arbitrate a border dispute between the Dutch colonies in French Guiana.
While he did manage to resolve the border problem, he also engaged in a liaison with the French Guiana governor’s wife.
At the time the French had guards to ensure their coffee crop was not used to cultivate the plant elsewhere, the governor’s wife presented Palheta with a parting bouquet in which she had hidden some of the precious cuttings along with fertile seeds.
Coffee cultivation in Brazil would not flourish until after independence in 1822. (See 1822.)
1730 – The British introduce coffee production to Jamaica which will eventually become a major coffee growing region in the country’s Blue Mountains. The coffee plants are first brought by Sir Nicolas Lawes, the former English Governor of Jamaica who was known for prosecuting pirates.
The first plantings took place at the foothills of St. Andrew, and soon moved up into the Blue Mountains where the fertile soils and ideal climate began to produce the Jamaica Blue Mountain coffees that today remain as some of the world’s most respected gourmet coffees.
1732 – The one-act operetta Kaffee-Kantate (Coffee Cantata) is composed by Johann Sebastian Bach. At the time there was somewhat of a movement to forbid women from drinking coffee as some thought it would make them sterile.
The humorous work was composed for a performance by Bach’s Collegium in Germany at Zimmerman’s Coffee House where Bach often performed and practiced. Some say the composition was inspired by Bach’s conversation with one of his daughters.
The tale begin when the father Schlendrian says, “You wicked child, you disobedient girl, oh! when will I get my way; give up coffee!”
Lieschen responds, “Father, don’t be so severe! If I can’t drink my bowl of coffee three times daily, then in my torment I will shrivel up like a piece of roast goat.”
Then in the Aria, Lieschen says, “Mm! how sweet the coffee tastes, more delicious than a thousand kisses, mellower than muscatel wine. Coffee, coffee I must have, and if someone wishes to give me a treat, ah, then pour me out some coffee!”
Schlendrian replies, “If you don’t give up drinking coffee then you shan’t go to any wedding feast, nor go out walking. oh! when will I get my way; give up coffee!”
Lieschen says, “Oh well! Just leave me my coffee!”
Schlendrian says, “Now I’ve got the little minx! I won’t get you a whalebones skirt in the latest fashion.”
Lieschen says, “I can easily live with that.”
Schlendrian says, “You’re not to stand at the window and watch people pass by!”
Lieschen says, “That as well, only I beg of you, leave me my coffee!,” and Schlendrian replies, “Furthermore, you shan’t be getting any silver or gold ribbon for your bonnet from me!”
Lieschen says, “Yes, yes! only leave me to my pleasure!”
To which Schlendrian replies, “You disobedient Lieschen you, so you go along with it all!”
In the Aria, Schlendrian opines, “Hard-hearted girls are not so easily one over. Yet if one finds their weak spot ah! then one comes away successful.”
In the Recitative, Schlendrian states, “Now take heed what your father says!” Lieschen replies, “In everything but the coffee.”
Schlendrian says, “Well then, you’ll have to resign yourself to never taking a husband.” Lieschen says, “Oh yes! Father a husband!”
Schlendrian says, “I swear it won’t happen.” Lieschen replies, “Until I can forgo coffee? From now on, coffee, remain forever untouched! Father, listen, I won’t drink any.” To which Schlendrian says, “Then you shall have a husband at last!”
In the Aria, Lieschen says, “Today even dear father, see to it! Oh, a husband! Really, that suits me splendidly! If it could only happen soon that at last, before I go to bed, instead of coffee I were to get a proper lover!”
Then in the Recitative, the Narrator states, “Old Schlendrian goes off to see if he can find a husband forthwith for his daughter Lieschen: but Lieschen secretly lets it be known: no suitor is to come to my house unless he promises me, and it is also written into the marriage contract, that I will be permitted to make myself coffee whenever I want.”
Then the trio goes as follows, “A can’t won’t stop from catching mice, and maidens remain faithful to their coffee. The mother holds her coffee dear, the grandmother drank it also, who can thus rebuke the daughters!”
Bach’s Kaffee-Kantate was written partly to protest that movement and criticize the royals and upper-class for trying to discourage coffee drinking among commoners, and in part just as an ode to the revered beverage.
The horrible conditions endured by African slave labor used by France’s colonial coffee plantations led to major unrest, however, including the Haiti Revolution that resulted in a long term setback to the country’s coffee industry.
1737 – The Exchange Coffee House opens at the foot of Broad Street in New York and eventually becomes the main auction location for many different commodities both inside and on the sidewalk.
In 1750 the coffee house’s name was changed to the Gentlemen’s Exchange Coffee House and Tavern. Later it was moved to Broadway and called Gentlemen’s Coffee House and Tavern. Then in 1753 it was moved to Hunter’s Quay on Front Street near Wall Street.
1737 - Merchants Coffee House is opened by mariner Daniel Bloom at the northwest corner of Wall Street and Water Street (formerly called Queen Street). The Merchants Coffee House eventually became a more popular meeting place than the Exchange Coffee House which was farther down the waterfront.
Bloom died around 1750 and the coffee house was taken over by Captain James Ackland who sold it to Luke Roome who sold it to Dr. Charles Arding in 1758. Arding leased it to Mrs. Mary Ferrari who was the proprietor, moving the Merchants Coffee House in 1772 to a newer structure across the street diagonally (at the southeast corner of Water and Wall Streets).
Later the Merchants Coffee House would be a center of activity during the British occupation, remaining as a place of trading and also a place where prize ships were put up for sale. Chamber of Commerce meetings were held upstairs.
This was said to be the meeting place of the men who formed the Bank of New York in 1784. In 1765 this was wear the order was read telling citizens to stop rioting against the Stamp Act. In 1790 the site of the first public sale of stocks by sworn brokers.
In 1774 the Merchants Coffee House was the site of a citizens meeting to discuss how to communicate with the Massachusetts colony and coordinate to resist English oppression. The meeting produced a letter that suggested a congress of deputies from the colonies, and sought a “virtuous and spirited Union.”
Other important meetings to do with these issues, as well as meetings of lodges and societies, made the Merchants Coffee House a virtual seat of government for the area.
On April 23, 1789 at the Merchants Coffee House in New York City, the newly elected President George Washington is greeted by the governor of the state as well as the city’s mayor. Fire destroyed the Merchants Coffee House in 1804.
Next see Coffee History / 1750-1800