The Revolution of The Bean


The story of the discovery of the bean is said to be of the goat herder, Kaldi, who noticed his flock was quite bouncy and full of pep after nibbling on the tree with bright red berries, he tried it and experienced the same stimulating effect as his goats. There is another story of how roasting the bean happened. While some travelers were sitting around a campfire one of them accidently kicked over a bag of beans into the fire and they became enticed with the tantalizing aroma. These are considered fables since they date back to the early thirteenth century.

Coffee houses date back to the late 1400’s. Kiva Han the name of the first known coffee house around 1475 was located in the Turkish city of Constantinople (now Istanbul).

The Turkish Army invaded Vienna and left behind bags of beans when they vacated the city.  In 1529, Franz George Kolschitzky opened a coffee house in Europe with the ‘spoils of war’ and also introduced sweetening the harsh bean with milk and sugar.

The first coffee house in Britain came about in 1652, when an English merchant familiar with the Turkish bean through his business had two of his servants leave his employment and go into business for themselves. The Turks Head coffee house was the result.

In Britain coffee houses were referred to as “penny universities”, that was the cost, (ah those were the days). All of the uppity-class business men could be found there.

The term “TIPS’” originated in Coffee Houses, merchants gave customers who dropped change into a jar on the counter service first.

The popularity  of the Coffee House became THE place to conduct business. In 1668, owner Edward Lloyd’s coffee house became the hub for businessmen in London, it is now still operating, no longer as a coffee house but as an insurance company – Lloyd’s of London.

The first Coffee tree was smuggled into the Americas – yes by Captain Gabriel des Clieux who secretly took a clipping from botanist Antoine de Jussieu who forbid anyone to disfigure the kings coffee tree, it barely survived the voyage.

The colonized America embraced the opportunity to capitalize on the popularity of conducting business in coffee houses.  During the Revolutionary War, secret operatives would meet in the coffee house to trade secrets and messages. Many of our Founding Fathers gathered everyday at the coffee house to discuss America and what needed to be done. Yes, tea wasn’t the only beverage of choice – remember America wanted to eliminate all that England encroached upon us.

New York 1792, The Tontine Coffee House became the business district of the Early American era. So much business was conducted in this coffee house it is the location of the now, New York Stock Exchange. 

The bean became the foundation of how business is conducted. Probably why so many people cannot start their day without having the tasty treat.

As with every product you have advancement. The widely sought after espresso in the 21st Century as the only coffee to drink, didn’t come around until 1946. When you think of espresso you think European and International delight well that is because Gaggia invented the first piston espresso machine in Italy.

The kicker – Women were not allowed in Coffee Houses as patrons, only servers in some places. Probably why the unknown business of Women as Secret Operatives during the Revolutionary War period is a hidden past time reality. Silly women they were just there to serve – unnmmmhhmm.

After learning the life of the bean I went to Starbucks to get a latte and told the barista, “Now that I know how tips originated I have to put money in the tip jar.”  She gave me the strangest look – not because I made a point to tell her I was giving her a tip – but because I knew where tips came from. I figure this information must be in the Starbucks employee handbook because her response was “That’s true how did you know that?”. And Starbucks thinks they were the original coffee house. Well now you know.

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About teresalwatts

Fascinated with Women in US History, Lover of Photography, Fashion, Shoes, Chocolate, Drinks Way too much coffee, Mother, Grandmom (to the four legged kind).
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2 Responses to The Revolution of The Bean

  1. Love the coffee information. Someone once told me that TIPS stood for “to insure prompt service”. Wonder if that’s truly what it stands for.

    Going to put the coffee on now. Mmmmm……

  2. teresalwatts says:

    Thanks Judy! Yes it does stand for that.

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