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Leaflet 22 




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i«°, ...... Of *^ 


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Field Museum of Natural History 

Chicago, 1938 

^1^ Leaflet Number 22 

Copyright 1938 by Field Museum of Natural History 

Origin and History of Coffee Drinking 

The coffee tree is of African origin but makes its first 

appearance as a cultivated plant in the southwestern 

corner of the Arabian peninsula. The first positive account 

of it is found in an Arabic manuscript of the fifteenth 

century. It was then being grown in the mountains of 

Yemen on the eastern border of the Red Sea, probably 

having been introduced by Abyssinian invaders one or 

two hundred years before. The fact that coffee is not 

mentioned in the Koran supports the belief that its pre- 

iT vious history in Arabia had been relatively short. It is 

<• thought to have come into common use there only in the 

S fourteenth century. 

In the absence of historical information Arabic legends 

, attribute its introduction to various Musulman personages 

* famous for their merits or for their devotions, such as the 

Sheikh Shadili of Mocha, the patron saint of Moham- 

S- medan coffee merchants, or the Mufty Gemaleddin, who, 

^ having seen coffee drunk in Persia, made use of it himself 

and introduced the custom in Aden. 

SL A well-known story from Syria, many times retold, 

is of the monastery goatherd whose charges became lively 

. ^ to the point of refusing their customary siesta after brows- 

""ti. ing on the leaves and the fruit of a strange bush, and of 

the Mollah conceiving the idea of trying its effect on his 

monks who were given to somnolence at evening prayers. 

The fact that the coffee tree grows wild in various 

parts of Africa, especially in the mountains of Southern 

Abyssinia, where it has undoubtedly been used since 


2 Field Museum of Natural History 

ancient times and is now gathered for export from wild 
plants, was not discovered until the European exploration 
of Africa was begun. In the meantime coffee remained 
definitely associated only with Arabia. The Arabic name, 
like the Abyssinian, for the tree, bun or el-bunn, is applied 
also to the fruit and even to the coffee powder. The 
Arabic name for the brew is kahwa, from which come the 
word coffee and its variants in European languages. The 
scientific designation of the plant, Coffea arabica, was con- 
ferred upon it by Linnaeus in 1756. If its African origin 
had been known to the great classifier, he would probably 
have called it abyssinica or ethiopica. 

The existence of various other species of coffee, grow- 
ing wild in Africa, is of relatively recent discovery. Many 
of these have been tried in cultivation and a few of them 
are being grown on a large scale, but the so-called Arabian 
coffee remains by far the most important and most widely 
planted species. 

The use of the dark brown brew as a social and cere- 
monial beverage apparently originated and developed in 
Arabia. At first the drink of the learned and religious 
only, it gradually came into general use. The manner of 
its preparation and serving there is described by Doughty 
in his Arabia Secreta. 

"In every coffee sheykh's tent there is a new fire 
blown in the hearth, and he sets in his coffee pots; then 
snatching a coal in his fingers he will lay it in his tobacco- 
pipe. A few coffee beans received from his housewife are 
roasted and brayed; as all is boiling he sets out the little 
cups, fenjeyl (for fenjeyn) which we saw have been made, 
for the uningenious Arabs, in the West. The roasted 
beans are pounded amongst Arabs with a magnanimous 
rattle . . . and (as all their labour) rhythmical — in brass 
of the town, of an old wooden mortar, gayly studded with 
nails, the work of some nomad smith. The water bubbling 
in the small dellal, he cast in his fine coffee powder, 
el-bunn, and withdraws the pot to simmer a moment. 

Coffee 8 

From the knot in his kerchief he takes then an head of 
cloves, a piece of cinnamon or other spice, baJiar, and 
braying these, he casts their dust in after. Soon he pours 
some hot drops to essay his coffee; if the taste be to his 
Hking, making dextrously a nest of all the cups in his 
hand, with pleasant clattering, he is ready to pour out 
for the company, and begins upon his right hand; and 
first, if such be present, to any considerable sheykh and 
principal persons. 

"The fenjeyn kahwa is but four sips: to fill it up to a 
guest, as in the northern towns, were among Beduins an 
injury, and of such bitter meaning, "Drink thou and 

In the middle of the fifteenth century, coffeehouses 
were found in all important Arabian towns. With the 
caravan trade and the annual pilgrimages to Mecca, its 
use soon spread to the rest of the Mahommedan world, 
across the Persian Gulf and to northern India, and north- 
ward to Cairo, Egypt (1500), Syria, and to Stamboul 

As popular gathering places where the idle could 
gossip and amuse themselves, where officials, officers, 
traders, merchants and navigators talked politics, the 
coffeehouses almost everywhere incurred the displeasure 
of the muftis and ulemans who saw their mosques empty, 
and often also of the civil authorities who scented potential 
danger in political discussions and possible intrigues. 
Coffee was praised by its friends for its excellent qualities. 
It would quicken the wit, restore the weary, comfort the 
body, enable the religious to spend the night in devotions, 
etc. It was condemned by its enemies as contrary to 
the teachings of the Koran, as being, if not wine, certainly 
charcoal, and equally objectionable. The coffeehouses 
were closed in Mecca in 1511, wrecked in Cairo in 1534^ 
forbidden repeatedly in Constantinople. 

In Persia, each coffeehouse was supplied with an 
official teacher and expounder of the law. The Sultan 

4 Field Museum of Natural History 

Selim I, who greatly extended the Ottoman Empire, 
thereby furthering the spread of coffee, reversed the decree 
against it. He is said to have hanged two Persian doctors 
for maintaining it to be injurious to health, but his succes- 
sors closed all coffeehouses in the Ottoman Empire and 
in 1633 coffee and tobacco were forbidden under pain 
of death. The use of both survived, however, the follow- 
ing thirty years of prohibition, and after 1663 coffeehouses 
were again permitted to operate in Turkey but were 
licensed. In Cairo there were then two thousand shops 
in which coffee was served. 

Mocha was long the chief center of the coffee trade 
and for two hundred years Arabia retained a monopoly 
of the supply. 

From Constantinople the use of coffee found its way 
to Italy early in the seventeenth century. It is said to 
have appeared in Venice in 1624 and the following year 
in Rome. A Venetian, Mocangi, "pevere," was the first 
European vender. 

In France, Marseille was the first city to receive coffee 
in bales from Egypt and the first to have a coffeehouse. 
Pascal, an Armenian, opened the first cafe in Paris, where 
his master, the Turkish Ambassador, at his receptions 
had dispensed coffee Turkish style, intriguing the French 
aristocrats, more interested in the manner of its serving 
than in "the Turks berry drink." Pascal's attempt was 
not a great success, but more luxurious establishments 
came into existence, the most famous of them being 
"Caf4 Procope," so named from its proprietor, and "Caf^ 
de la R^gence." The most illustrious literary and political 
characters of France were frequenters of one or other of 
these. "He imagines himself a person of importance 
because he goes every day to the Procope," wrote Voltaire 
of one of his contemporaries. He himself was a constant 
patron, as were Rousseau, Diderot, Marat, Robespierre, 
and Danton. Bonaparte is said to have been obliged to 

Coffee 6 

leave his hat there for security, while he went in search 
of cash to pay his bill. 

At the Caf6 de la R^gence, Voltaire appeared also and 
Diderot was to be seen working on his encyclopedia. 
Rousseau, Richelieu, Buffon, Alfred de Musset, Victor 
Hugo, and Th^ophile Gautier were among its frequenters. 

Caf^s multiplied, hundreds of less important ones 
were opened — all meeting places for the idle or those with 
some leisure for playing chess or cards, for discussion and 
oratory, and sometimes for dissension and intrigue. At 
the Caf^ Foy began the harangue that initiated the siege 
of the Bastille. 

It has been said that the whole of Paris, with eighteen 
hundred coffeehouses, became one vast caf^and the whole 
of France, the Caf^ de I'Europe. 

In England coffee is thought to have been sold first 
at Oxford in 1650 by Jacob, a Jew from Lebanon. A 
London merchant having brought coffee from Smyrna, 
and a Greek or Armenian servant who understood its 
roasting and preparation, opened a coffeehouse in 1652. 
Arthur Tilyard's coffeehouse at Oxford dating from 1655 
became at once a center of intellectual life. Out of the 
informal meetings and discussions which took place among 
its frequenters grew the Royal Society. In London, coffee- 
houses soon became numerous and by 1675 they numbered 
three thousand. Every rank and profession, "every shade 
of religious and political opinions had its own head- 
quarters," says Edward Forbes Robinson in his Early 
History of Coffee Houses in England. Charles II denounced 
them as "seminaries of sedition" and issued a proclama- 
tion against them which aroused so much protest that 
it was rescinded within a few days. Some of the more 
exclusive ones eventually developed into clubs. Lloyd's 
coffeehouse for wayfarers and traders, where maritime 
bulletins were posted for the benefit of customers, became 
the world-renowned underwriting establishment and 

6 Field Museum of Natural History 

register of shipping which is still an important factor in 
England's navigation and trade. 

Almost from the beginning of the introduction of 
coffee into Europe, Holland played an important part in 
its trade and cultivation. Dutch traders visited Aden 
in Arabia in 1614 and brought home the first samples 
of coffee. A commercial shipment from Mocha arrived 
in Amsterdam in 1640 and regular imports from Arabia 
were established 1660. The first coffeehouse is said to 
have been opened in Holland (1666) fifteen years later 
than in England, and in the nearby German free port of 
Hamburg in 1679. Coffee drinking was somewhat slow 
in becoming established in Germany, but it gradually 
spread there to such an extent that a hundred years 
after its first introduction, Frederick the Great is said to 
have exclaimed: "The increase in consumption of coffee 
is deplorable — almost every commoner and peasant has 
acquired the coffee habit. If that were restricted to some 
extent, the people would again resort to beer, and that 
would naturally benefit their own breweries. It would 
also prevent so much money, spent to purchase coffee, 
from going out of the country. Even His Royal Highness 
himself, in his younger days, was raised on beer-soup, 
besides, it is much better for their health than coffee." 

In Austria the Turks, on abandoning the siege of 
Vienna in 1683, left behind a large supply of coffee to 
which they had set fire. The hero of the moment, a Pole 
who had been in Turkey and apparently was the only one 
who understood the nature of the smoke emanating from 
the sacks on fire, requested them as part of the reward 
for his services which saved the city and made use of the 
supply to open a coffeehouse, the first in Austria. Vienna 
coffeehouses became famous and remained distinguished 
for their high character. With daily papers and periodicals, 
native and foreign, supplied by the management and 
offering their patrons conveniences for correspondence. 



Coffee 7 

they became an extremely important factor in the social 
and intellectual life of the town. 

Coffee eventually reached Russia from Austria and 
from Constantinople, but owing to its high price it never 
attained as general use there as in other European coun- 
tries. In the eighteenth century it finally reached the 
Scandinavian peninsula, where its present day household 
consumption is even greater than that of Holland. 

A mortar for braying coffee came to New England in 
the Mayflower, being brought by the parents of Peregrine 
White. The Dutch brought coffee to New Amsterdam 
in 1668. William Penn bought his coffee in the New York 
market, paying 18 shillings six pence or $4.68 per pound. 
The first coffeehouse in Boston was opened in 1869, in 
New York in 1696. Being usually taverns, rather than 
caf^s, the American coffeehouses never attained the 
popularity or social importance of those in Europe. On 
the other hand, coffee as a beverage for household use 
grew rapidly in favor. 

The Arabian Coffee Plant 

cultivation, harvesting, and preparation of the crop 

The Arabian coffee plant is a shrub or small tree of 
the Madder Family, Rubiaceae, with glossy, deep green, 
simple leaves, opposite in alternating pairs. Not being 
shed annually, the leaves are often said to be evergreen. 
As a matter of fact, they have been found to have a life 
of three to five years. The main branches are arranged 
in pairs at right angles to the straight, perpendicular 
stem, each pair of primary branches at right angles to 
the next. The secondary branches arising from them are 
seen to be given off at an acute angle and to assume 
their position in a horizontal plane. During the flowering 
periods, of which there are generally two each year, a 
principal one lasting two to three months and a secondary 
one, each ideally corresponding to a season of relatively 
little rainfall, the coffee trees become covered with delicate. 


Field Museum of Natural History 

white flowers, giving off a jasmine-like odor. They are 
borne in the leaf-axils of the leaves the preceding year, 
in small clusters, each consisting of three to four umbels 
of a few flowers or buds. Details of the structure of the 

Coffee flower and fruit {Coffea arabiea) enlarged (x5). Half of the tubular 
corolla and of the ovary removed to show the pistil and the two ovules in the ovary 
which becomes the two-seeded coffee fruit. Below, fruit natural size in vertical section, 
and enlarged in transverse section to show relative position of seed, seedcoat, parch- 
ment and pulp. 

flowers are to be seen in the adjoining illustration. Each 
flower lasts only a short time, at most two days, after 
which the tubular 5-parted corolla with the stamens is 
shed. The fruit develops rather slowly, the production 
of the ripe, two-seeded drupe, usually called a berry, 
requiring eight to nine months. 

Coffee 9 

The ovary of the flower is two-celled, with one ovule 
in each cell. Each ovule normally develops into a so- 
called coffee "bean," a seed with a delicate membranous 
seed coat, the so-called silver skin of the coffee bean. As 
the fruit develops, the wall of the ovary enlarges greatly 
to form the pericarp of the drupe. At the time of maturity, 
this consists mostly of a fleshy and mucilaginous pulp 
(mesocarp), covered externally with a dark red "skin" 
or epiderm (epicarp). The internal wall of the ovary, i.e. 
that part of it lining the cells or cavities in which the seeds 
develop (endocarp), becomes quite hard and horny, like 
the seed-house in an apple, though somewhat firmer, 
forming the so-called parchment which, after the removal 
of the fleshy pulp, is seen to enclose each coffee bean. 
Within the parchment coat the seed is found to be covered 
by a thin membranous seed coat, the so-called silver skin, 
generally glistening and closely adherent to the green seed. 

In English-speaking countries where coffee is produced, 
the fruit is often spoken of as a "cherry," and if a very 
tough and juiceless cherry had two large kernels or stones 
instead of one, well flattened against each other and 
parchment-like or horny in consistency instead of stony, it 
would be very similar to a coffee drupe. 

After maturity, the coffee seed retains its vitality for 
about three months, and, if planted under suitable con- 
ditions, germinates in three weeks to a month. Seedlings 
grow rapidly, producing four or five pairs of leaves in 
as many months, and the first pair of lateral branches 
in eight to nine months. 

A young Arabian coffee plant generally begins flowering 
in its third year, producing its first small crop in the 
fourth. Its maximum production is in most places reached 
in its seventh to tenth year, perhaps usually in the eighth, 
and it will continue to bear in somewhat diminishing ratio 
from the tenth up to twenty or thirty and even to fifty 
years and will sometimes live to be a hundred, though in 
most of the places where it is planted it is actually very 

10 Field Museum of Natural History 

much shorter-lived. In Arabia, the coffee trees are said 
to mature in five years and to require replacement within 
twenty years from planting. In some central American 
plantations where severe pruning of the trees is practised, 
the number annually required for replacement is as high 
as ten per cent. On the average plantation it is much less. 
In Brazil it is said to be about 4 per hundred. 

New plants are produced in various ways. The usual 
practice in most places is to plant selected seed in seed 
beds, transferring the seedlings, as soon as they have 
developed one or two pairs of leaves, to a nursery where 
they are set out, properly spaced, under some form of shade 
until they reach a size convenient for a second transplant- 
ing or final setting out when six to eight months old. In 
Brazil a common practice is to plant the seeds directly 
in the field where they are to remain, several seeds being 
dropped in each hole to produce a clump with three or 
four stems to grow up together. 

The distance between plants varies from one and a 
half or two to three or four meters, and the number of 
plants per acre varies accordingly from 360 to 600 trees. 
The unit of area used on coffee plantations is generally 
the metric hectare, 1,000 square meters, equivalent to 
2.35 acres. It is usually estimated that one workman 
is needed to care for each hectare or for each 1,000 trees, 
but many plantations manage with less. 

The amount of pruning practised varies from almost 
none, except removal of suckers and of dead branches, as 
on Brazilian plantations, to the most severe and compli- 
cated repression of the natural conical or pyramidal shape 
of the tree, for the purpose of keeping down the height 
and to provide better access of air and light to the bearing 
portion of the plant. In some places the entire main 
stem is cut back after a few years, and vertical shoots 
from the lower part of the trunk allowed to form new 
secondary stems. In the same places it is apt to be the 
practice to cut back the normal taproot of the young 

Copyright by Underwood & Underwood 



Coffee U 

plant on transferring it from the nursery to the plantation, 
all apparently with the intention of adapting it better 
to local conditions of soil and climate, and with the 
expectation of increasing the yield. 

Young coffee plants generally require some shade. 
Commonly this is obtained by planting a rapid-growing 
crop such as corn between the rows, but in most countries, 
bananas or plantains are generally used for the purpose, 
and serve admirably, except for exhausting the soil ten 
times as fast as the coffee trees, furnishing the roots of the 
coffee plants formidable competition for nutritive elements 
in the ground. In Arabia, fig trees are said to be used 
at times for shade. Niebuhr observed the use of the 
Geiger tree which is indigenous there, but reliance is placed 
rather on planting in shady valleys reached by the sun 
for only a few hours daily. In the East Indies, Central 
America, and northern South America, shade trees such 
as Erythrina, Albizzia, Inga, and others, are almost 
always employed to protect the coffee trees from the heat 
of the noonday sun, from excessive winds, and from the 
force of rain storms, but on the whole there is as much 
variety of practice in the provision of shade as there is 
in the extent and manner of pruning. Leguminous trees 
of rapid growth with feathery foliage, an open spreading 
crown, strong branches and deep roots are preferred. 
In the ipain coffee region of eastern Brazil, lying between 
22° and 24° S. lat., only the young plants are shaded 
by some temporary cover or cover crop such as com 
or mandioca between the rows, discontinued a^ soon 
as the trees come into bearing, and no shade trees are used 
— the explanation being that at the altitude at which 
coffee is grown there, mostly between two and three 
thousand feet, meteorological conditions, the proportion 
of bright sunlight and overcast sky, the amount of wind 
and rain (1315-1756 mm.) and its distribution, are such 
that no artificial protection is needed, and the coffee trees 
flourish under the open sky. There is noted in Brazil, 

12 Field Museum of Natural History 

however, a recent interest in the use of shade trees on 
coffee plantations for their regulatory action conducive 
to a more uniform ripening of the fruit. 

Coffee in the New World is planted almost everywhere 
on virgin land cleared by burning the forest. Generally 
little attention is paid to the matter of fertilizing or pre- 
paring the ground or to replacing the elements taken out 
of it, nor always, unfortunately, to moderating by contour 
treatment or otherwise, the leaching and erosion of the 
soil which takes place when the natural cover of forest 
trees and underbrush is removed and the humus of the 
forest floor, accumulated during thousands of years, is 
suddenly exposed to the free play of the elements. 

In its native Abyssinia, the coffee tree is a plant of the 
highlands and, wherever planted, Arabian coffee trees 
usually thrive best at an altitude of 1,200 to 2,000 meters, 
3,000 to 4,000 feet, above sea level, in situations where 
freedom from frost may be found combined with an annual 
mean temperature of 60° to 72° Fahrenheit (16°-22° C), 
or, still better, approaching as closely as possible to 65° 
Fahr. (18° C). In Mexico, where the northern limit is 
lat. 22° and there is sometimes danger of a cold north 
wind, it is the rule to plant only where the minimum 
temperature never reaches 5° C. or within 10° Fahr. of 
freezing. A prolonged wintry blast would destroy a coffee 
plantation in a few hours. In the Sao Paulo coffee district 
the temperature descends at times to 3° C, and in localities 
at lower altitudes rarely to freezing. 

Rainfall in coffee-growing countries varies from 30 to 
120 inches. An annual precipitation of 40 to 70 inches 
is considered most favorable, but the distribution of the 
rainfall during the year, absence of heavy rains during 
the flowering season, and good weather for the preparation 
of the crop are of greater importance than its exact 
quantity. Excess of moisture acts to stimulate vegetative 
development instead of the production of fruit. The 

Coffee 13 

greater the precipitation the greater the importance of a 
well-drained terrain. 

At sea level Coffea arabica grows well and flowers, but 
usually fruits so poorly that its cultivation is of slight if 
any economic interest. In lowlands it is also greatly 
subject to the chief fungus disease of the coffee tree known 
as leaf spot, a rust, Hemileia, which has put an end to 
coffee cultivation in various places where it has appeared, 
e.g. in Ceylon, Bourbon, and the East Indies. In Mexico 
it is said that the shrub at 500 feet will produce about one 
pound per year, at 1,000 feet two pounds, at 2,000 three, 
at 3,000 even more, but above 4,000 feet the production 
decreases rapidly. If this is correct, it is easily under- 
stood why below 2,000 feet little or none is planted. 

Production varies considerably with the age of the 
tree. The yield may thus vary in different parts of the 
same plantation and may be twice as great on newly 
cleared and planted portions as on the old. The average 
production per tree of some American coffeegrowing 
countries appears to be as follows: Colombia ^ lbs. 
(340 grams), Costa Rica slightly more than % lbs. (350 
grams), Guatemala 14 oz. (400 grams), Ecuador 103^ oz. 
(300 grams). Compared with these figures, the average 
Brazilian production of 1.5 kilograms or 3.3 pounds 
appears to be high but probably represents correctly the 
average for the principal Brazilian coffee region, where a 
production per tree in especially favorable cases may 
reach six and a half pounds per unit, and rarely as much 
as ten or eleven. A Sao Paulo "tree," however, generally 
consists of a clump of three or four stems planted together 
as described above. On the basis of world production for 
1931, when the total number of coffee trees existing was 
estimated at three billions, one arrives at an average of 
1}4 lbs. per tree or 600 grams, which may be accepted as 
a general average per annum for Arabian coffee. Where, 
as is often the case, there is a secondary crop following 
the principal one, this smaller crop may be expected to 

14 Field Museum of Natural History 

yield about one-third as much as the principal one. In 
some countries there is a third crop due to a third flowering 
period or there may be, as in places in Central America, 
an almost continuous production of fruit throughout 
the year. 

Coffeegrowers are likely to discuss production per 1,000 
trees instead of average per tree or per hectare, alqueire, 
acre, or other surface measure. 

A statement which embodies the expectations of the 
coffee planter in Brazil is to the effect that an estate of 
80 hectares (125 acres) should produce 50 tons of coffee 
beans per annum. This would be at least three times the 
average production in a coffee-producing country such as 

The character of the coffee produced in any region is 
determined primarily by the inherent characteristics of 
the particular variety cultivated, but soil, altitude, and 
meteorological conditions, as well as cultivation, are im- 
portant factors governing the size and nature of the 
crop. In Mexico, according to Villares, coffee grown at 
500 meters is thus worth three dollars less per hundred 
pounds than coffee grown at 1,800 meters. But the quality 
of the product is to a large extent dependent also on the 
manner of gathering the crop and its preparation for the 
market. The hand-picking of well matured fruit only, 
i.e. dark or piu-plish, even somewhat past maturity to the 
point of beginning to be wilted or shriveled, as practised 
in the countries producing the best grades of mild coffee, 
ensures a high-class product, while any admixture of 
green fruit, so-called sunburnt, yellow, dried and spoiled 
berries, even in very small proportion, is sufficient to 
ruin the taste or flavor of a large quantity. 

As all the fruit on the trees does not mature at once, 
such hand-picking must be repeated many times and 
wherever practised prolongs considerably the harvest. It 
also requires more labor than allowing the ripened fruit 
to fall to the ground and raking it together at intervals 

Coffee 15 

or stripping the branches of all ripe, near-ripe, and unripe 
fruit left on the tree, as is often done e.g. in Brazil, where 
the relatively short harvest season, the magnitude of the 
crop, and the extent of many of the plantations makes 
the slower and more laborious process impracticable. 
However, even in Brazil, the large-scale harvesting of the 
mature fruit only, is beginning to be practised with the 
use of vibrators and cloths spread under the trees to catch 
the crop. 

Once they are mixed in gathering, mature and imma- 
ture fruit cannot well be separated. Such separation as 
is later obtained by the machine used for removing the 
pulp from the beans, is at best very imperfect. 

The next and most important operation on a coffee 
plantation is the preparation of the crop for the market. 
The quality of the final product depends to a very large 
extent on the manner in which this is managed. There 
are two distinct methods in use, which may be called the 
dry method and the wet. The former is the older. It was 
once general; it is the method used in Arabia and in 
Abyssinia, and is still the prevailing one on small planta- 
tions everywhere and in places where a scarcity of water 
exists, as in parts of Brazil and in Mexico. The so-called 
"native coffee" produced in English colonies is almost all 
prepared by the dry or "poor man's method," which con- 
sists in drying the entire coffee berries in the open. The 
fruit as gathered from the trees is spread out on trays or 
mats, where small quantities are dried, or on a large scale, 
on the hard, clean, preferably paved, drying ground in 
a thin layer which is constantly turned over to secure 
evenness of drying. It is pushed into heaps and covered 
to protect it from the heat of the midday sun, and from 
rain, or, where smaller quantities are handled, on plat- 
forms or trays which may be run under cover. The open- 
air exposure is continued until all danger of fermentation 
is past, after which further drying may proceed more 
slowly in ventilated drying bins or barns. The hull or 

16 Field Museum of Natural History 

husk is later crushed and separated from the dried beans 
by mechanical means. In many places this is still accom- 
plished in the most primitive manner possible in a large 
wooden mortar, but is usually effected by some form of 
machine or mill. Small coffeegrowers lacking machinery 
for this purpose, often sell their product dried in the hull 
to the larger planters who are better equipped. 

The wet process originated on British-owned planta- 
tions. It produces so-called "washed coffee" and involves 
the use of water from the beginning, first to separate the 
dried and defective fruit and accidental debris from 
the perfect coffee berries, and then as an aid to freeing 
the latter from their pulp. Once gathered, the fruit should 
be freed from its pulp as soon as possible, preferably within 
some hours of its picking, or, if left till the following day, 
may be kept cool in tanks of water to prevent fermentation. 

The berries are conducted in water to a pulping 
machine which frees the seeds or beans from the fleshy 
covering of the fruit, leaving them enclosed only in their 
parchment coat with at most some adhering shreds of 
pulp and a slippery coating of saccharine and mucilaginous 
matter. If allowed to remain during drying, this would 
promptly start an alcoholic or acid fermentation, which 
would penetrate the parchment and attack the cellulose 
of the green and moist beans, thereby injuring the natural 
color and aroma of the final product. The adhering 
saccharine substance must therefore be removed as soon 
as possible. To this end, the coffee from the depulping 
machines is conducted into covered vats where a controlled 
fermentation of 12 to 24 hours is allowed to take place 
in order to destroy or loosen the remains of gummy and 
sugary matter. This is then completely removed by 
thorough washing in running water for six to twelve hours. 

The cleaned coffee in parchment is then dried, much 
as in the other method, at first on drying grounds or coffee 
terraces, generally tile paved or cemented, and finally 

Coffee 17 

dried slowly and more perfectly in covered drying bins or 
barns, so constructed that every part is reached by forced 
or natural ventilation. 

Natural drying in the open is commonly employed 
where weather conditions at harvest time permit, as is 
generally the case in Brazil. Spreading the washed coffee 
as rapidly as possible in a thin layer in order to get rid 
of surplus moisture, keeping it constantly stirred or turned 
over for evenness in drying, using the warmth of the sun 
of the early morning hour and of the late afternoon as 
an aid to drying but not permitting any overheating 
which would be destructive of the volatile oils on which 
aroma depends, avoiding exposure to moisture of dew 
or rain, with careful watching throughout the process of 
drying so that it may be carried just far enough to remove 
all danger of fermentation — such are the main points 
observed in the preparation of a high-quality product. 
The progress of the drying is judged by the color and hard- 
ness of the green bean, which, soft in the beginning, be- 
come corneous as it dries and fails to dent under pressure 
applied by the fingernail. The beans are often tested also 
by biting them and by cutting with a knife to examine 
the progress of drying of the inside. As the beans dry, 
the longitudinal groove on the flat side tends to close. 

It is generally conceded that the drying of the coffee 
in the open gives a product superior to that obtained by 
artificial methods, but in localities where a sufficient 
open-air exposure is not possible on account of frequent 
rains, or because of lack of sufficient area of drying ground, 
a combination of natural and artificial drying is often 
employed. One or more days of exposure in the open are 
then followed by several days of treatment in some form 
of mechanical drier in which the coffee is kept in motion and 
subjected to forced ventilation at a suitable temperature 
until quite dry enough. In Colombia further importation 
of such driers is forbidden as prejudicial to the quality 
of the product. 

18 Field Museum op Natural History 

Certain countries, such as Java, ship coffee in parch- 
ment, and buyers in some European ports prefer to receive 
it thus, but usually the parchment is removed by a simple 
mill and blower, and the inner thin pellicle or silver skin, 
the seed coat proper, is removed by another operation 
called polishing. At the same time or separately, the 
dried coffee is subjected to a mechanical cleansing or 
winnowing to remove sticks, broken beans, small particles 
and dust, etc. By the use of a succession of sieves it is 
then mechanically graded according to size of the beans 
and, where the highest grade of product is desired, sub- 
jected to a final elimination of defects by careful hand- 
picking. Remaining foreign matter, such as small sticks 
and stones, as well as husks and broken, discolored or 
otherwise defective beans, are thus eliminated, before the 
coffee is finally placed in bags. Throughout the whole 
process of preparation there is a gradual reduction in 
bulk. It is usually estimated that five or six pounds of 
Arabian coffee berries give one pound of dried coffee beans. 

The Spread of Coffee Cultivation 
The coffee district of Arabia constitutes less than 2% 
of the area of that sandy and mostly rainless peninsula. 
It is only in the mountains and highlands of its southeast 
corner that the monsoons in spring and early summer bring 
sufficient precipitation to permit the maintenance of the 
Arab's terraced coffee gardens. These are generally 
located on some slope or in a valley of the few mountains 
which rise above the general level of the highlands, in 
situations where partial shade prevails and where it is 
possible to obtain water for irrigation from the mountain 
springs or brooks. The district extends from Aden to 
Loheia, 13° to 16° N. latitude, the most important part 
being Yemen al-a'la. Beit-el-Fakih, the coffee capital, 
Hodeida, Sana, and Tais are other important points of 
the coffee-producing area. 

The production of the small Arabian coffee area was 
never very great, and even when augmented by contribu- 



Coffee 19 

tions from southern Abyssinia, would have been insufficient 
for any widespread consumption beyond the eastern end 
of the Mediterranean. From Arabia, however, coffee 
cultivation soon spread to other parts of the world. 

Coffee is said to have been carried to Ceylon in 1505 
by a traveling Arab and to have been planted in Mysore, 
India about 1600 by a returning pilgrim who brought 
seven seeds. In spite of a strict prohibition after the 
trade had begun to take on some importance, viable seeds 
were carried to Ceylon (1690) and soon afterwards to 
Malabar and to Batavia in Java. The first plants intro- 
duced into Java were destroyed by a flood, but a second 
attempt with plants from Malabar was successful and 
laid the foundation for the coffee industry of the Dutch 
East Indies, and incidentally, furnished the plants which, 
by way of Amsterdam, became the ancestors of most of 
the coffee trees in the New World. The first sample of 
coffee grown near Batavia was sent to Holland in 1706. 
The first commercial shipment of coffee, of 894 pounds, 
was made five years later. Accompanying the former was 
a branch of the coffee bush which was studied by the 
botanist Commelin, and a single potted plant for the 
botanic garden of Amsterdam which had the first green- 
houses in Europe. Descendants of this plant were dis- 
tributed to other botanic gardens of Western Europe, 
and plants or seeds were later sent to the Dutch West 
Indies and to the Dutch colony Surinam in South America. 

The story of how, after the peace of Utrecht, a coffee 
plant was sent to the king of France, has been retold so 
many times that it seems best to quote an early version 
as found in John Ellis, Historical Account of Coffee (1774), 
pp. 16-17: 

"The first account of this tree being brought into 
Europe we have from Boerhaave, in his Index of the 
Leyden Garden, part 2, page 217, which is as follows: 
'Nicholas Witsen, burgomaster of Amsterdam, and 
governor of the East India Company, by his letters often 

20 Field Museum of Natural History 

advised and desired Van Hoorn, governor of Batavia, to 
procure from Mocha, in Arabia Felix, some berries of the 
Coffee-tree, to be sown at Batavia; which he having 
accordingly done, and by that means, about the year 
1690, raised many plants from seeds, he sent one over 
to governor Witsen, who immediately presented it to the 
garden at Amsterdam, of which he was the founder and 
supporter: it there bore fruit, which in a short time pro- 
duced many young plants from the seeds.' Boerhaave 
then concludes that the merit of introducing this rare 
tree into Europe is due to the care and liberality of Witsen 

"In the year 1714, the magistrates of Amsterdam, in 

order to pay a particular compliment to Louis XIV, 

King of France, presented to him an elegant plant of this 

rare tree, carefully and judiciously packed up to go 

by water, and defended from the weather by a curious 

machine covered with glass. The plant was about five 

feet high, and an inch in diameter in the stem, and was 

in full foliage, with both green and ripe fruit. It was 

viewed in the river, with great attention and curiosity, 

by several members of the Academy of Sciences, and was 

afterwards conducted to the Royal Garden at Marly, 

under the care of Monsieur de Jussieu, the king's professor 

of Botany; he had, the year before, written a Memoir, 

printed in the History of the Academy of Sciences of Parish 

in the year 1713, describing the characters of this genus,' 

together with an elegant figure of it, taken from a smaller 

plant, which he had received that year from Monsieur 

Pancras, burgomaster of Amsterdam, and director of the 

botanical garden there." 

The Regent of France, the Due d'Orleans, and the 
French Academy of Sciences took an active interest in 
the introduction of economic plants into the French 
colonies. The King brought trees of cinnamon, pepper, 
and cloves to send to the West Indian Islands and (even 
before 1700 ?) had sent coffee seeds to Haiti. In 1716, 

Coffee 21 

the Royal Academy of Sciences decided to send a represen- 
tative to Martinique to cultivate useful plants and to 
report on them, and selected for the purpose M. Isambert, 
a physician, apothecary to his Royal Highness the Regent. 
He sailed with bees, silkworms, and some plants among 
which were three coifee trees, and he was given particular 
instructions relative to their care, but unfortunately this 
emissary of the French Academy died almost as soon as 
he had arrived at his destination. Requests for a repeti- 
tion of the attempt at introduction of coffee were opposed 
by the FVench India Company. 

Soon after its arrival in Amsterdam, coffee had been 
sent to the island of Curasao and in 1714 was introduced 
into the Dutch South American colony, Surinam or Dutch 
Guiana, where it prospered. A Frenchman named Morgue 
from Cayenne, said variously to be a prospector or a 
runaway soldier, who had taken refuge in Surinam, 
returned about 1719 to the French colony carrying, 
perhaps by previous arrangement with the authorities in 
Cayenne, coffee seeds which were planted in the garden 
of the governor, M. de la Motte Aigron. These, with 
further seeds obtained the following year by a detachment 
of soldiers from Cayenne searching for prisoners across 
the Surinam border, had by 1723 produced ten thousand 
plants. In 1720, coffee was carried from Surinam to 
Barbados by a Captain Young and probably was supplied 
to French West Indian Islands from Cayenne. 

Its introduction into Martinique, however, has 
generally been credited to a French Naval Lieutenant, 
De Clieu, long stationed in the West Indies, who had 
gone to France in 1718 but had occasion to return to 
Martinique. This officer has become a French legendary 
hero through his account of sharing his scant ration of 
drinking water with the coffee plant. The single plant 
he carried, obtained from the royal garden in Paris five 
years after the unfortunate mission of M. Isambert, 
arrived safely in Martinique, and produced fruit in 1721, 

22 Field Museum op Natural History 

in time to furnish seed for a new and valuable cultivation 
to take the place of the cacao (introduced 60 years earlier) 
which had been destroyed by an earthquake or hurricane. 
According to M. Chevalier, the only existing account of 
this feat and all subsequent romantic versions of it were 
based on letters written by De Clieu himself fifty years 
later, one of them to the botanist Aublet, another to the 
editor of a periodical, both of which were published. 
From Martinique, coffee cultivation spread rapidly to 
neighboring islands, first to Guadeloupe, where in 1777 
there were 18 million coffee trees. Concerning its intro- 
duction into Haiti and San Domingo, there are conflicting 
statements. It was introduced into Jamaica in 1728 and 
soon afterwards into the Spanish islands of Cuba (1748) 
and Puerto Rico (1755). Before the end of the eighteenth 
century the production in the French possessions in the 
West Indies had grown to 50,000 tons, sufficient to supply 
not only the mother country but also the larger part of 
the entire European consumption of that time. 

From French Guiana, five coffee plants and more than 
a thousand fruits were carried to Para, in the Portuguese 
colony of Brazil, in 1727, by a Brazilian officer, Palheta, 
returning from a border mission to Ceyenne. Para, at 
the mouth of the Amazon, does not offer especially favor- 
able conditions for growing coffee, but its cultivation was 
encouraged by the governor, and in 1732 seven pounds 
of coffee were sent as a sample to Lisbon, the first Brazilian 
shipment of coffee. In 1755 there were 17,000 coffee 
trees in Para, and 967 bags of 160 lbs. each were shipped 
to Portugal. Some forty years after its arrival in Para, 
coffee reached Sao Luis, in the adjoining state of Maranhao. 
From Sao Luis it was carried to Rio de Janeiro in 1774. 
From there plants were distributed throughout eastern 
Brazil where, especially in the highlands of Sao Paulo, 
the Arabian coffee found soil and climatic conditions 
apparently more favorable to its growth than those 
existing in its homeland or encountered in any other part 

Coffee 23 

of the world where it has been introduced. The first 
export shipment from the present Brazilian coffee district, 
was made from Rio in 1800 and consisted of 13 bags. 
From southeastern Brazil, coffee reached Paraguay, Chile, 
and Peru. 

Before the end of the eighteenth century, Spaniards 
from the West Indies had carried coffee to Venezuela 
(1740) and other countries of northern South America — 
Colombia, Ecuador, and Bolivia — also to Central America, 
perhaps first to Costa Rica and to Mexico (1790), whence 
it spread (1850-52) to Guatemala. The coffee of Salvador 
is said to have come from Cuba. 

Africa, the original home of coffee, is the last continent 
to enter upon its large-scale production for the world 
market. Plantations have been developed in many places 
in West as well as in East Africa, most recently in British 
Kenya, but the total production of the continent is still 
relatively small, as is that of the Asiatic mainland. The 
Philippine Islands grow some coffee, as do Hawaii and 
various Islands of Oceanica, but their total in percentages 
of world production is small. 

The Coffee Trade 
world production and consumption 

As an article of trade, coffee is said not to have been 
greatly appreciated by the Arabs until the arrival of 
European merchants. These were Portuguese (1500) who 
had just circumnavigated Africa, Turkish traders from the 
north (1530-40), and later ships of the British East India 
Company (1610) and Dutch (1614) merchantmen stop- 
ping on their way to or from the Indies. During the early 
days of its introduction in Europe the Arabian crop 
went north from Mocha by way of the Red Sea to Cairo 
and Alexandria in Egypt and to Stamboul on the Bos- 
phorus, as points of final distribution. 

The first port in western Europe to engage in the coffee 
trade, Marseilles (1660), obtained its supplies in Cairo 

24 Field Museum of Natural History 

and for some time enjoyed virtual monopoly of the supply 
in the West until the merchants of St. Malo brought 
coffee directly from Aden or Mocha by way of the long 
seaward journey around Cape of Good Hope (1708-1713). 
Soon afterwards the French India Company was formally 
granted the sole right to supply coffee to France (1723). 
With the shift to the maritime route, and for other reasons, 
Mocha lost its importance as a coffee mart, its place being 
taken by Hodeida and Aden. By 1800 the coffee-carrying 
trade was handled largely by American clippers, the whole 
export being then 16,000 bales of 305 pounds each, and 
was laid down in Europe at a price with which the India 
Company could not compete. 

When the Dutch began to plant coffee in the East 
Indian islands and the product was sent directly from 
Java to Amsterdam, the situation altered. The available 
supply was soon greatly increased and exclusive depend- 
ence on the Arabian production came to an end. Three 
million pounds were received in Holland in 1745. Coffee 
had also been introduced in 1717 into the French islands 
of He de France and Bourbon or Reunion off southeast 
Africa, whence 360,000 pounds were exported in 1730. 
From Bourbon it was later introduced into Madagascar. 

When the French West Indies, particularly Martinique, 
asked permission to send coffee to France, this was at 
first refused as interfering with the India Company's 
privilege, but on repeated representations it was after- 
wards granted by the King on condition that the product 
be received in French ports for sale only to other parts of 
Europe. The French consumption at that time was six 
to eight thousand tons, while the West India production 
aggregated fifty thousand. 

English plantations in Ceylon and in India soon made 
of London also a coffee port, though less important than 
the continental ones. The French plantations in Bourbon 
were not a success, and with the loss of Haiti and other 
difficulties in the West Indies, the production of the 

Coffee 26 

French colonies had dropped at the end of the 18th 
century to 500 tons. The Napoleonic wars then interfered 
with the European trade, the English blockade shutting 
off coffee imports to the continent. 

Coffeegrowing in the New World increased in the 
meantime, especially in eastern Brazil, which, beginning 
its export with a trifling quantity in 1800, became an 
important factor from 1835 on, exporting a million bags 
in 1850, 2 millions in 1860. With the great destruction 
of plantations in Ceylon, Java, and Sumatra in the last 
quarter of the past century by the fatal leaf-spot disease, 
the greater part of the coffee trade passed definitely to 
the Western Hemisphere. The United States had become 
the greatest market for the product not only because of 
its great increase in population but also owing to a rapidly 
growing per capita consumption. In 1850 this was four 
and a half pounds per person per year. It has since 
crown to twelve pounds and is exceeded now only by the 
per capita consumption of the Scandinavian countries, 
Denmark with 173^ pounds and Sweden, with 17 pounds 
per capita per annum, holding the primacy in this respect. 

Imports to the United States were about 5^ million 
bags or 748 million pounds in 1900. In 1930 these had 
risen to 12 million bags or 1,570 millions pounds, in 1935 
to over 13 million bags, one-half of the world consumption. 
France is the second largest consumer with 3 million bags, 
Germany third with 2 to 23/^. 

In 1900 the world's production and consumption of 
10 million bags practically balanced. Since then there 
has been a steady growth in consumption (23,900,000 
bags in 1931-32) accompanied by an extraordinary and 
speculative striving for the largest possible production 
(37,500,000 bags in 1931-32, 39,700,000 bags in 1933-34). 
Continuous expansion of the coffeegrowing area has re- 
sulted in the existence of 4 billion coffee trees in the 
world, of which 2,967 million in Brazil, half of them in 
Sao Paulo with some nine million acres of coffee planta- 

26 Field Museum of Natural History 

tions, and the production of a huge unsaleable surplus. 
While the world production of coffee has doubled in the 
last 20 years, that of Brazil has tripled. In its effort to 
avoid the unfavorable effect of this on the market price, 
Brazil since 1931 has destroyed by burning 60,000,000 
bags of coffee. Its exports in 1936 were 14,180,000 bags 
of 132 lbs. each, or 1,701,600,000 lbs. out of a total world 
consumption of 3,100,000,000 lbs. The Brazilian surplus 
at the end of 1937 is said to be 17,500,000 bags. 

The second largest producer of coffee is Colombia with 
4,000,000 bags in 1937, one-fifth as much as Brazil. The 
Dutch East Indies with 1,650,000 bags are third in rank; 
Salvador, Venezuela, Guatemala, Mexico, Haiti, and Costa 
Rica, fourth to ninth. 

When 15,000,000 bags of coffee were produced in a 
year practically all was consumed. Of the 38,000,000 bags 
produced in 1936, 24,000,000 were consumed. The unused 
surplus was greater than the whole annual production of 
twenty years before. 

Other Species of Coffee 

In the preceeding pages, coffee has been treated as if 
it were the product of a single species, viz. Arabian coffee 
(Coffea arabica L.), which is practically the only species 
grown commercially in the New World, producing more 
than 90 per cent of the world's coffee crop. But since 
coffee became a commodity of world-wide interest, botani- 
cal exploration in Africa has brought to light the existence 
of numerous other species of the genus Coffea. About one- 
half of these, or eighteen, grow spontaneously in tropical 
West Africa, while of the rest, three grow wild in southeast 
Africa and three are native in the islands of Madagascar, 
Bourbon, Mauritius, etc., off the southeast African coast. 
A few species of the genus Coffea have been found in 
southern India, Java, Sumatra, and one in New Guinea, 
but most of these belong to a section of the genus which 
does not furnish coffee for beverage purposes. Some of 

Copyright by Underwood & Underwood 




t\ ;.■ -jp : 


4^ .. 

Copyright by Underwood & Underwood 

Coffee 27 

these species of Coffea are very handsome plants when 
in flower. Many of the African species have been tried 
with some success for coffee production, and a few of them 
are being grown commercially in situations and under 
conditions unsuitable for Arabian coffee, in Africa, in 
India, and in the East Indian Islands. 

The best known of all competitors of the Arabian 
coffee plant is the Liberian coffee, C. liherica, a lowland 
plant, larger and more robust than C. arahica, with large 
leaves and flowers and bearing larger fruit. Contrary 
to early optimistic expectations entertained for this species, 
it has been found to be subject to leaf-spot disease and 
yields a product which is not greatly esteemed. A coffee 
tree of Belgian Congo {Coffea canephora var. Laurentiana) 
known by the horticultural name Coffea robusta, has been 
widely planted in Java to replace the Liberian coffee 
once grown there but abandoned. Robusta coffee is 
esteemed for its rapid growth and its precocious and high 
yield, but furnishes only an inferior grade of coffee. It 
is planted, however, in sufficient quantity to constitute 
six per cent of the world's production. Most of its pro- 
duct is sold by the Dutch to those European countries 
where coffee is habitually mixed with substitutes, especially 
chicory, and where quality is therefore not demanded, 
but a part of it finds its way to the United States, where 
it is purchased as a so-called price coffee and used by some 
American coffee roasters as "fillers" in their blends. The 
Dutch islands Java and Sumatra thus furnish a small 
quantity of the highest-grade coffee from Arabian trees 
grown in the mountains, about 10% of their production, 
and a large quantity of some of the poorest or robusta 
coffee, known also as Palembang, grown at lower altitudes. 

A species from Ubangi, a tributary of the Congo, 
"Chari" coffee (Coffea excelsa), so named from the Chari 
River, is the largest of all coffee trees, growing commonly 
twenty to forty feet, and even to sixty feet high. It is 
of some interest in the Old World tropics, Indo-China, 

28 Field Museum of Natural History 

etc., for its adaptability to a variety of conditions not 
suitable to C. arahica and yields a product said to be 
superior to C. liberica and rohusta. 

A variety of Coffea arahica found in Grand Comoro 
Island is entirely devoid of caffeine. A species from the 
Mascarene island of Reunion or Bourbon and from 
Madagascar has only a trace of caffeine, but also poisonous 
properties. Another species of Madagascar is too bitter 
to be used. 

The systematic relationship and genetics of the many 
species and varieties of coffee* still await more thorough 
investigation which may prove to be of great practical 
importance to the coffee industry in general. The Dutch 
agricultural stations in Java have been active in this 
direction. At present there is no general agreement 
about the relative merits of the more recently discovered 
and less cultivated species of coffee, but they are a matter 
of great interest to colonial governments in Africa, Asia, 
and the East Indies, where conditions for growing Arabian 
coffee are not favorable and a satisfactory substitute 
would therefore be welcomed which would permit competi- 
tion on somewhat more equal terms with the coffeegrowing 
countries of the New World. 

Composition of the Coffee Bean— Caffeine 

Coffee Roasting 

The main stimulative constituent of coffee is the 
alkaloid caffeine, first found by the chemist Runge who 
extracted it from coffee beans in 1820, about the time 
alkaloids were first discovered in plants. Caffeine has 
since been found to exist in all parts of the coffee plant, 
especially in the leaves. The significance of the presence 
of such substances and their place in the economy of the 
plants in which they are found are not well understood. 
Their chemical composition and physiological action is 
much better known. Caffeine is thus described chemically 
as a purine base, tri-methyl-xanthin, d, HNO4 O2 (CH3)3 

Coffee 29 

and may be synthetized. Isolated in its pure state it forms 
masses of silky, needle-like, white crystals. Its physio- 
logical action in small doses, such as are found in a few cups 
of coffee of ordinary strength, is that of a stimulant, 
producing a feeling of physical well-being, increasing 
mental activity by its action on the central nervous system, 
relieving fatigue and promoting muscular activity includ- 
ing that of the heart and of the alimentary tract. It is 
eliminated through the kidneys after some hours and 
increases their function. 

The fact that its stimulating action is not followed by 
depressing after effect, as is the case with practically all 
other stimulants, is very important, and has contributed 
to the widespread use of coffee as a beverage, though the 
pleasant and distinctive aroma is unquestionably also a 
factor contributing to its popularity. 

Caffeine is now known to exist in many other plants 
besides coffee. The alkaloid called "theine," discovered 
in the leaves of the tea bush, is identical with caffeine. 
Tea dust, from which it may be extracted much more 
economically than from coffee, is in fact the commercial 
source of most of the caffeine used for medicinal purposes. 
Cola nuts, the seeds of Guarana, and the leaves of Mat6 
and of various other species of the Holly family are also 
used for beverages that owe their stimulating properties 
to their caffeine content. The principal alkaloid of cacao, 
theobromine, is very similar to caffeine, which is also a 
constituent of cacao. 

Caffeine content varies considerably in the different 
species and varieties of coffee from none at all in one 
noncommercial species to as much as three per cent by 
weight. In the varieties of Arabian coffee commonly 
used, it varies from one-half to two and a half per cent, 
the highest caffeine content being ascribed to coffee from 
Colombia, the lowest to that from Mexico. Brazilian 
and Guatemalan coffees are intermediate with three- 
quarters to one and a third per cent. The average caffeine 

30 Field Museum of Natural History 

content of coffee beans is often stated to be one and a 
half per cent. 

A comparison of coffee and tea is frequently attempted 
on the basis of their respective caffeine content, usually 
expressed in percentages of dry weight. On this basis, 
the caffeine content of tea is found to exceed greatly that 
of coffee. The comparison ordinarily intended is that 
of the caffeine content of the beverage, for which a much 
smaller quantity of the dry weight is required of tea than 
of coffee, equalizing the difference. A cup of either coffee 
or tea as ordinarily prepared is thus found to contain about 
the same quantity of caffeine, about one and a half grains. 
Both have in addition other important constituents and 
aromatic substances, especially the volatile oil on which 
fragrance or aroma depends. 

In coffee, the aroma is developed by the process of 
roasting, which also serves to break down the cellulose 
walls of the cells of the bean, facilitating the grinding or 
pulverization necessary for the liberation of the soluble 
substances and other ingredients contained in the bean. 
The amount of these extracted from the ground coffee 
in the process of preparation of the beverage may be 
judged by the difference in weight of coffee used, and 
weight of coffee grounds dried after making, which is 
found to be about 25 per cent. 

The roasting of coffee is said to have originated in 
Persia. In many places, especially in coffeegrowing coun- 
tries, the roasting of the required quantity of coffee beans 
over a charcoal or other slow fire is still an indispensable 
preliminary and part of each preparation of the beverage. 
In other places where less importance is attached to 
coffee-making, sufficient coffee is roasted at one time to 
last for several days, enough being crushed or pounded 
afterwards in a mortar, or ground, to serve as desired for 
each occasion. 

In the United States, however, and wherever the 
convenience of package goods and trade-marked blends 

Coffee 31 

have become the order of the day, coffee is roasted in 

The roasting is begun at full heat, checked toward 
the end of the roast, with the coffee kept in constant 
motion in revolving drums or otherwise. The humidity 
which is given off and the gases developed in the roasting 
process are allowed to escape or are removed by forced 
ventilation until the operation is completed. The roasted 
beans should then have a uniform brown color and a 
characteristic pleasant flavor. If the heat is not even, or 
is too high, during any part of the roasting, the result is 
a charring and blackening of the beans with a loss of the 
aromatic essential oil and development of an unpleasant 
odor and taste. 

Ordinary grades of badly prepared coffee beans present 
a speckled and variegated appearance after roasting, with 
some beans shriveled and black; others, the imperfectly 
mature ones, lighter in color than the rest, conspicuously 
yellow to light brown, A mixture of large and small beans 
also roasts unevenly, the small kernels becoming roasted 

Sometimes, as in Mexico, sugar is added during the 
roasting in the belief that it will facilitate the formation 
of flavor and retain the aroma. Owing to the increased 
amount of heating required to caramelize the added sugar, 
the result is usually the contrary of what is expected. 

To stop the changes taking place in the heated beans, 
the roasted coffee is spread out at once to cool. It is 
found to have lost in the process about 12% to 18% of 
its weight and to have increased about one-third in volume. 

Unroasted coffee may be kept for many years and 
improved in quality with a certain amount of ageing, 
though to this there are said to be exceptions, the question 
being one of slow chemical changes, favorable or unfavor- 
able to flavor, which may take place in the bean. Roasted 
coffee, on the other hand, deteriorates with rapidity. 
The loss of aroma which takes place in a short time in 

32 Field Museum of Natural History 

roasted coffee is due to the combination of some of its 
constituents with the oxygen of the air. There is enough 
of this in the ordinary coffee can to cause a decided loss 
of aroma, less in vacuum-packed cans in proportions to 
the perfection of the removal of the air at the time of 
packing. The staleness, which appears even before the 
aroma has completely disappeared, has been attributed, 
perhaps incorrectly, to changes producing rancidity of 
the fixed oils in the coffee bean, which are not completely 
destroyed in the process of roasting. 

The composition of the green coffee is given roughly 
as cellulose 34%, oils and fats 10 to 13%, sugar 7%, 
protein 14%, water residual after drying 12%, plus various 
other substances in smaller quantity. 

The exact nature of the chemical changes which take 
place in the roasting of the beans is a matter of somewhat 
complicated organic chemistry. Sugar and starches are 
caramelized and produce various new compounds. The 
volatile oily substance called caffeol, considered the chief 
factor in the aroma, is thought to be produced when 
caffeine, sucrose, and caffetannic acid are heated together. 
Caffetannic acid, however, is held to be a problematical 
substance or at least a misnomer, and no tannin or tannic 
acid is present in the roasted bean. The fixed oils are 
mostly olein, also palmitin and stearin, and there are 
present besides, various free fatty acids, and substances 
such as furfural, pyrol, etc. Carbon dioxide and, to a 
less extent, monoxide gas is evolved. A certain amount 
of carbon dioxide is retained or is residual in roasted coffee 
and in a vacuum pack replaces the exhausted air. Since 
the discovery of caffeine, more than a hundred years ago, a 
large amount of chemical research has been done on coffee, 
but the chemical changes which take place in roasting are 
still imperfectly understood. One investigator sums up 
the present status of this subject by saying that there is no 
doubt that compounds other than those isolated to date 
are necessary to produce the aroma. 

Coffee 33 

Commercial Classification of Coffee 

The many kinds of coffee sold in the coffee markets 
of the world are generally distinguished first of all accord- 
ing to their geographical origin, e.g. Brazilian coffee, 
Java Coffee, Costa Rican Coffee, etc., and in the case of 
the larger producing countries also more specifically by 
the name of the port from which they are shipped, or of 
the district, or sometimes of the trading center from which 
they are derived. 

Coffee from the Brazilian state of Sao Paulo is thus 
generally known as Santos Coffee, Santos being the port 
from which its exportation takes place. Coffee from the 
district which finds its commercial outlet through the port 
of Rio de Janeiro is called Rio Coffee, whether grown in 
the State of Rio de Janeiro, in Minas Geraes, or in southern 
Espirito Santo, though Minas coffee may also come on 
the market as such. Victoria Coffee, mostly from the 
Brazilian state of Espirito Santo, is exported through 
the port of Victoria. Bahia, Pernambuco, Paranagua, 
and Angra dos Reis are other Brazilian coffee ports of 
less importance. 

Venezuelan coffee is shipped from Maracaibo, from 
Caracas, or rather from its port town. La Guaira, and from 
Puerto Cabello. A certain amount of eastern Colombian 
coffee finds its outlet through the first-named port. 
Colombian coffees are generally known by the name of 
the districts in which they are produced as Medellin, 
Armenia, Manizales, Bogota, Bucaramanga, etc., shipped 
from Atlantic and Pacific ports of Colombia. The Mexican 
coffees best known in the United States are shipped mostly 
from Veracruz, viz. Coatepec, Huatusco, Cordoba, Orizaba, 
etc., produced in the state of Veracruz; Oaxaca, in the 
state of that name, and Tapachula, in Chiapas. 

On the other hand, where not distinctly forbidden as 
in the United States, coffee grown in Sumatra or other 
East Indian islands is often designated as Java, the latter 

34 Field Museum of Natural History 

being famous as a coffeegrowing country and still enjoying 
a high reputation for a part of its product. Only a very 
small part of the coffee called Mocha in the world trade 
is actually derived from Arabia or from Abyssinia, the 
rest of so-called Mocha consisting of mocha type, small 
rounded, preferably gray-green beans from almost any 
place, e.g. Tepic, Mexico. In Brazil peaberry coffee, so- 
called caracol or caracolillo of Spanish- American countries, 
a rounded bean formed where only one seed of the fruit 
develops, is known as mocha, moka or mokinha. Little 
if any Bourbon coffee now comes from the island of that 
name, where, early introduced from Mocha, it once 
flourished for some time. Most of the Bourbon is prob- 
ably grown in Sao Paulo, Brazil, especially in the district 
of Riberao Preto, and is thus Bourbon Santos, and, 
whether originally brought from the island of Bourbon 
or not, in the course of long replanting in Brazil has 
become a well established variety by that name. Marago- 
gipe, also a Brazilian coffee, is a large-seeded variety 
originating as a mutant in a place by that name in the 
state of Bahia. It is now grown in various other countries, 
especially in Mexico. 

It is thus seen that a name of a geographical locality 
known or famous for a certain quality or kind of product 
is apt to be used by extension to indicate characteristics 
or type of product rather than origins, quite apart from 
intentional misbranding. The words Java and Mocha 
have thus been used freely to designate certain kinds of 
coffee ever since the beginning of the European coffee 
trade. Misuse of such geographical designations for coffee 
is now prohibited in the United States by regulations of 
the Federal Food and Drug Inspection. Java may be 
applied only to the product of Coffea arahica or liberica 
actually grown in that island. Robusta coffee from Java 
must be labeled "Java robusta" and is now denied consular 
invoice if reshipped from Europe as e.g. Rio. Mocha must 
be produced in the district of Yemen, Arabia. 


Photo from Coffee Institute of SSo Paulo 

Copyright by Theo. Preising 



Coffee 35 

In coffee from the Dutch Indies and from EngHsh 
possessions in India and Africa, a distinction is made 
between plantation coffee and native coffee, the latter 
the product of small growers, the difference being usually 
of the method of preparation, wet or dry, represented also 
by the term washed and unwashed coffee. 

According to the number of defects present, whether 
in the form of broken beans, shells, unripe or scorched or 
blackened beans, fragments of sticks or small stones, 
coffee is graded into eight numbered types, number one 
representing perfection, perhaps never attained, eight the 
lowest type permissible on the New York Coffee Market. 
Prices of Santos coffee are quoted for No. 4, of Rio for No. 
7, of Colombian coffees for Manizales, prices of other grades 
being in definite and constant proportion. 

As to beverage making qualities the coffees most 
generally used are divided into three main groups, mild, 
soft, and hard. The term "mild coffees," or milds, is 
generally applied to coffees grown in Colombia, Venezuela 
and all the Central American countries, when the produc- 
tion is almost entirely of "washed" coffee. It is also 
applied to Mocha as well as to the small amount of high 
class coffee of Java and Sumatra. The term is sometimes 
used as a synonym for "washed" coffees, though it in- 
cludes Mocha which is always prepared by the dry 
method, and is applied to all coffee from the Colombia- 
Central American region whatever their manner of prepa- 
ration. These coffees are recognized as having no hard 
or harsh flavor, but in spite of the designation "milds" 
have a heavier "body" than Brazilian coffees, so that a 
relatively small proportion of them can be used in mixtures 
to impart this character to a beverage made of lighter 
bodied coffee, such as Santos. Santos coffee is described 
as "soft" or, when carefully prepared, "strictly soft." 
This term is used, rather than "mild," to distinguish 
Santos from Rio coffees which latter are apt to have a harsh 
or acrid taste and are therefore spoken of as "hard." This 

36 Field Museum of Natural History 

character, in the opinion of Brazilian coffee experts, is 
probably owing less to conditions of soil, climate, or alti- 
tude at which grown than to prevailing methods of har- 
vesting a mixture of ripe, unripe, and spoiled fruit and 
a traditional lack of care in drying, preparation and sub- 
sequent handling, conditions which the Brazilian coffee 
growers are actively endeavoring to improve. Coffees 
made from fully ripe fruit only, are devoid of the harshness 
characterizing the hard, and yield a beverage of a finer 
aroma. The milds of Colombia, Venezuela, and Central 
America and the "strictly softs" of Brazil are readily 
absorbed by the coffee trade, as are the high class coffees 
of Netherlands Indies, and the Arabian Mocha. The latter 
goes mostly to Levantine countries. 

Coffee Substitutes and Adulterants 

The European travelers who first penetrated beyond 
the sources of the Nile found the natives making use of 
the coffee fruit, boiled, mixed with fat and made into balls, 
which, constituting both food and stimulant, were carried 
as provisions on their expeditions. The use of roasted 
beans for the preparation of a beverage was not observed, 
but leaves of the coffee bush were used as tea in Ethiopia, 
and in Abyssinia a drink called kisher was prepared from 
the dried and toasted pulp of the coffee berry. This is 
the so-called Sultan or Sultana coffee, widely used in 
Yemen. It is described as of a golden yellow color and of 
an agreeable, somewhat sweet flavor. Various travelers 
aver that in the Arabian coffeegrowing district this infusion 
is commonly employed for local consumption in preference 
to the beverage made from the bean. 

In Arabia and in all the Levantine countries, the 
roasted coffee beans are pulverized and the grounds are 
consumed with the liquid. Anise-seed, cardamom, cloves, 
or other spice may be added for flavor. The addition of 
sugar to coffee is thought to have originated in Alexandria 
where the sugar cane was cultivated, or is ascribed to 

Coffee 37 

Constantinople. Milk or cream in coffee was apparently 
first advocated in France, where coffee was recommended 
to be made with hot milk instead of water. 

As the use of coffee became popular in Europe, where 
its price long remained high, attempts were made by 
consumers to find a cheaper substitute in part or whole, 
and by venders to find an adulterant which would pass 
unperceived. Chemists were even ordered by the Prussian 
government to find a substitute. Almost everything that 
could be dried, roasted, and ground to look like coffee 
has been tried. 

The most popular of all adulterants is chicory, prepared 
from the dried root of a European wild plant of the daisy 
family. The use of this is said to have originated (1790) 
in Batavia in Holland, and during the Napoleonic wars, 
when coffee increased excessively in price and with the 
English blockade of the ports became almost unobtainable, 
the cultivation of chicory as a field crop became extensive 
in Central Europe. It has been commonly employed ever 
since and is now widely grown especially in Belgium, 
Germany, and northern France. 

Alleged harmful properties of coffee have furnished 
the excuse for many enterprising attempts to produce a 
preparation which would give a coffee-like beverage with- 
out the use of coffee beans. Roasted cereals of all kinds, 
bran, malt, special doughs, potatoes, carrots, beans, 
particularly soy beans, peanuts, peas and other legume 
seeds, especially of Lupin, Cassia, and St. John's bread, 
sunflower seed, cotton seed, acorns, chestnuts, horse 
chestnuts, black figs and prune pits, usually with chicory 
and with molasses or some form of caramelized sugar — 
mostly the same substances that have been employed as 
adulterants, of which Field Museum has an extensive 
collection — furnish the ingredients of many varieties of 
so-called "health coffee." 

To satisfy those who for some reason seek a coffee- 
like drink without the caffeine content, industrial methods 

38 Field Museum of Natural History 

have also been devised for removing the caffeine from 
coffee beans. 

An unusual coffee substitute, employed in the drought 
area of Brazil, consists of the seeds of the Carnauba or 
wax palm. As material for a beverage, these are probably 
about equal in value to dried olive pits, but are resorted 
to locally in times of great want in places remote from 
coffee-producing areas. 

The demand for a satisfying warm beverage which 
will serve to promote a feeling of physical comfort, appears 
to be so well supplied by coffee that when this cannot be 
obtained those accustomed to its use are impelled to seek 
a substitute, however poor. 

With the world's coffee production greatly in excess of 
the demand and steadily increasing, with a decrease in 
price, the incentive to adulteration or need for substitution 
is rapidly diminishing. In the United States the enforce- 
ment of pure food laws insures effectively against mis- 
branding and fraudulent substitution. 

An extensive discussion of methods of coffee-making, 
including reports and opinions from competent experi- 
menters who have made special study of the subject, 
may be found in the chapter entitled "Preparing the 
Beverage" in Uker's, All about Coffee. 

The conclusions there found may be condensed from 
a summary by Dr. Prescott of Massachusetts Institute 
of Technology as follows: The best results will be obtained 
with freshly roasted coffee, finely ground but not pul- 
verized, infused at temperatures 185° to 195° F. (85° C- 
90° C.) for not over two minutes in a glass, porcelain, or 
vitrified container, and the liquid immediately filtered 
from the grounds. The reason for avoiding the use of 
metallic containers is that coffee infusion reacts with 
metal, and tin plate, aluminum, copper, and nickel all 
effect the taste. Boiling or prolonged contact with the 
grounds increases the bitterness of the beverage, and 





r -^^^ .; 










^^^.'^f^^A ^ 






Coffee 39 

boiling coffee serves to perfume the house by diffusing the 
aroma which should be reserved for the cup. 

The Literature of Coffee 

The first mention of coffee in European literature is 
by the German physician Rauwolf, who had visited Syria 
and on his return published (1573) an account of his 
travels, describing a drink which he had seen in Aleppo, 
made from the fruit hunna. The following year the 
Dutch botanist, Clusius, described some coffee beans re- 
ceived from a colleague in Ferrara. The earliest descrip- 
tion of the plant is that of the Venetian physician. Prosper 
Alpino, who had visited Egypt and published (1592) a 
volume on the plants he had found there. His description 
of a coffee bush from Arabia Felix is accompanied by a 
poor drawing. The first correct delineation of a coffee 
branch is that accompanying Jussieu's description (1713) 
of the plant sent to Paris from Amsterdam. 

The Arabic manuscript by the Sheikh Abd-al-Kader 
or Ghaffer, preserved in the royal library at Paris, has 
been translated in part and abstracted in French by 
A. Galland, De I'origine et du Pr ogres du cafe sur un manu- 
scrit arabe etc., Caen, 1699, and in German by Sontheimer 
in Wissenschaftliche Annalen der gesamten Heilkunde, 
Berlin, 1834. 

The principal accounts of early visits by European 
travelers to the Arabian coffee district are those of Jean 
de la Roque and of Karsten Niebuhr. 

La Roque's Voyage to Arabia Felix is an account of 
the expedition sent by the merchants of Saint-Malo 
(1709-12) to bring coffee directly from Mocha and in- 
cludes two chapters by Grelaudiere on the coffee tree 
and its fruit. Niebuhr's Travels and Description of Arabia 
contains the observations made by a scientific expedition 
sent by the King of Denmark in 1762. The group of 
five men of which it was composed, headed by the botanist 
Forskal with Cramer as surgeon and zoologist and Niebuhr, 

40 Field Museum of Natural History 

an army officer, as geographer and surveyor, was soon 
reduced by death to three, viz. Niebuhr, an artist, and 
a servant — finally to Niebuhr alone, who remained to set 
down and returned to publish his own accurate and 
excellent observations in addition to the notes left by 
his companions, Hogarth's, The Penetration of Arabia 
(1904), Wyman Bury, Arabia Infelix (1915), and that 
remarkable book of travels among the Arabs, Doughty's 
Arabia Secreta, all devote at least some pages or para- 
graphs to an account of coffee in the land of Mahomed. 

The bibliography of coffee is voluminous. Outstand- 
ing recent works are Cheney (R. H.), A Mo7iograph of 
the Economic Species of the Genus Coffee, New York, 1905, 
and Ukers (Wm. H.), All About Coffee, New York, 1935, 
the former mostly botanical and technical, with taxonomic 
bibliography; the latter an encyclopedic account by the 
editor of The Tea and Coffee Journal, of coffee in all its 
aspects, with extensive bibliography. 

The most recent scientific monograph on coffee is by 
a French authority, Aug. Chevalier, Les Cafeiers du Globe, 
of which the first part only has been published. A recent 
German treatise on coffee and its cultivation, with an 
extensive list of the animal and vegetable parasites and 
pests of the coffee tree, is by A. Sprecher von Bernegg in 
Tropische und Subtropische Weltwirtschaftspflanzen, Stutt- 
gart, 1934. 

The most comprehensive account of conditions and 
methods of production in all principal coffeegrowing 
countries of the world, is by George Dumont Villares, 
CafS, a report to the government of the State of Sao 
Paulo, Brazil, 1925. 

Coffee, The Epic of a commodity, the Viking Press, 
New York, 1935, is a journalistic account, originally 
written in German by H. F. Jacob, of the history of 
coffee, its introduction in Europe, with special reference 
to the relation of coffee drinking to manners and social 

Coffee 41 

(Intemat. Inst, Agric.) 

Brazil 2,871,310,000 

Colombia 492,735,000 

Salvador 143,301,000 

Venezuela 157,852,000 

Guatemala 147,710,000 

Mexico 99,208,000 

Haiti 77,162,000 

Cuba 50,706,000 

Dominican Republic 42,990,000 

Costa Rica 52,911,000 

Nicaragua 35,274,000 

Puerto Rico 19,842,000 

Various others 119,051,000 

Total 4,310,052,000 

Netherlands Indies 235,895,000 

India 33,069,000 

Ethiopia 44,093,000 

Tanganyika 29,983,000 

Kenya 33,069,000 

Angola 39,683,000 

Madagascar 48,502,000 

Belgian Congo 40,786,000 

Various others 49,306,000 

Total 554,386,000 

Total of both groups 4,874,438,000 

42 Field Museum of Natural History 

(Intemat. Inst. Agric.) 

United States 1,730,194,000 

France 411,163,000 

Germany 342,379,000 

Belgium 114,200,000 

Sweden 102,074,000 

Italy 69,887,000 

Netherlands 68,344,000 

Denmark 59,745,000 

Argentina 50,706,000 

Spain 48,702,000 

Finland 48,281,000 

Canada 39,683,000 

Norway 35,715,000 

Algeria 34,172,000 

Switzerland 33,290,000 

Great Britain and Northern Ireland 31,967,000 

Union of South Africa 31,526,000 

Czechoslovakia 24,912,000 

Yugoslavia 15,212,000 

Poland 13,889,000 

Portugal 13,448,000 

Japan 12,566,000 

Austria 11,464,000 

Total 3,343,319,000 

Coffee 43 

(U. S. Department of Commerce) 

Brazil 7,842,926 

Colombia 2,620,271 

Venezuela 459,437 

Ecuador 70,639 

Peru 411 

Chile 100 

Argentina 1,556 

Surinam 34,882 

From South America 11,030,222 

Salvador 436,097 

Guatemala 418,451 

Costa Rica 59,767 

Nicaragua 56,733 

Panama 7,055 

Mexico 445,341 

Honduras 4,491 

From Central America and Mexico 1,427,935 

Cuba 12,331 

Haiti 33,130 

Domin. Repub 50,789 

Jamaica 7,695 

B. W. 1 197 

Dutch W. 1 326 

From West Indies 104,468 

Arabia 28,782 

Ethiopia 10,535 

B. Ea. Afr 164,242 

Fr. Afr. Poss 8,538 

Port. Afr. Poss 1,446 

Liberia 19 

From Africa and Arabia 213,562 

Dutch Ea. Ind 222,909 

Malay States 678 

From East Indies 223,587 

Canada 1,786 

France 3,538 

Germany. 1,296 

Holland 8,181 

U. Kingdom 50,005 

Portugal 111,865 

From non-producing countries 176,671 

Total .13,176,445 




In Field Museum, cofifee and other caffeine yielding beverage 
sources, tea, cacao, mate, cola guarand, etc., are included in the 
exhibit of Food Plants in Hall 25, Department of Botany. 

'.*- * 

*' ..