coffee plant was first mentioned by an Arab physician of the ninth
century, growing in Abyssinia and Arabia. It was first cultivated
in the Yemen (Mocha), and later in the mountains of Mysore in south
The roasted and pulverized beans, infused in boiled water, came
to be drunk all over the Arab world.
Traded round the Mediterranean, coffee reached the European capitals
in the seventeenth century.
Coffee soon spread up from Marseilles to become fashionable in
the Paris of the Sun King, Louis XIV. In London's coffee houses
after the Restoration of Charles II, coffee accompanied the discussion
of all the important issues of the day.
came to Vienna in 1683, when the besieging Turkish army was routed
and sacks of coffee discovered in its abandoned baggage.
The Dutch first spread the cultivation of the coffee plant - to
Ceylon (Sri Lanka) in 1658 and Java in 1696. A Dutch plant was carried
via Paris in 1714 to the French Caribbean and to South and Central
America and Mexico.
Up until this point coffee was made in a pot by pouring boiling
water over the pulverized coffee beans, which were allowed to settle
- sometimes a spoonful of cold water was added to precipitate the
particles to the bottom. Then, from 1711 in France, the coffee grounds
were placed in a muslin bag known as a biggin, but they still formed
coffee was introduced in Europe in the late eighteenth century (although
the Arabs had long strained their coffee through dried herbs). Various
filter devices were invented, of which the most published was Count
Romford's of 1809.
In Germany in 1818 Dr Romershausen used steam to push the water
through the coffee - a forerunner of the early steam espresso machines.
In England in the first half of the nineteenth century, early machines
either pulled or pushed the water through the coffee in a variety
France in 1819 Laurens had devised the first percolator, in which
the water when hot rose up a central tube and infused the coffee
above. This method became popular in America in the 1860s with the
introduction of the Manning-Bowman pump percolator.
In the 1850s in England the engineer James Napier created the vacuum
siphon, in which the coffee, once made, was removed from the jug
by a vacuum into a globe, from which it was served through a tap.
Numerous other variations and some highly elaborate coffee machines
were created by Victorian ingenuity.
There has been no great change in the twentieth century in the
method of coffee-making, except by the application of electricity
to previously well-tried and tested methods of coffee. The espresso
machine appeared in the early 1900s, but was not perfected to the
form it is today until the 1950s, when Gaggia in Italy introduced
a machine which worked without steam.
Electricity also made possible the automatic filter, which combined
the three processes of heating water, filtering the hot water through
the coffee, and keeping the coffee warm in a jug on a heated plate.
Such machines were designed and patented by Edward Bramah in the
coffee was introduced in the 1960s, but actually became more a rival
to tea (see History of Tea) than
to proper coffee.
In the Bramah Museum there is an unrivalled variety of coffee
machines on display, with their principles fully explained. There
are café sets and coffee equipment of all kinds, both traditional
and bizarre. Maps, diagrams, engravings and antiques explain the
history of coffee from its origins to the explosion of coffee-bar
culture from the 1950s onwards. In the Bramah coffee room roast
and ground coffee made by the traditional Bramah jug method can
be enjoyed (see Procedure for Making Coffee).