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A Pilgrim Smuggled Coffee Beans To India: The Intriguing History behind the Development of Coffee Culture

India’s first coffee house opened in Calcutta after the battle of Plassey in 1780

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Do you prefer a cup of coffee every morning to wake your body up? Experts say that is an unhealthy practice. Pixabay
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  • Coffee was kept as an Arab monopoly in Ethiopia and was traded in roasted form
  • The beans were introduced on the Malabar coast by Arab traders
  • The coffee plantations developed in numerous amounts in south India and were soon hit by an illness

New Delhi, August 19, 2017: Indians adore their coffee and tea. Both drinks, however, are not indigenous to the country and foreigners introduced them to us. While British presented tea, coffee beans have an all the more intriguing story.

The coffee saga has an act of rebellion. In the seventeenth century, a Sufi saint named Baba Budan went to Mecca on a pilgrimage. Upon landing in Mecca, he discovered that coffee was found a century sooner in Ethiopia, was kept as an Arab monopoly and was just traded in roasted form. Budan chose to oppose this and sewed a few seeds into his robes. He was excluded from checking while on his return to India, as he was a saint. Upon his arrival in the nation, Budan planted seven seeds in 1670 in Chikmagalur.

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However, numerous food historians believe that Budan was not the first person to acquaint coffee beans to the subcontinent. In Hazel Colaco’s book ‘A Cache To Coffee’, she wrote that the coffee beans were introduced much earlier on the Malabar coast by Arab traders.

Edward Terry, a British man in Jahangir’s court, wrote in 1616, “Many of the people there (in India), who are strict in their religion, drink no wine at all; but they use a liquor, more wholesome than pleasant, they call coffee, made by a black seed boiled in water, which turns it almost into the same colour, but doth very little alter the taste of the water.” He noted that notwithstanding it helps to cleanse the blood, helps in digestion and to accelerate the spirits, mentioned topyaps.com website.

Soon, the trade of coffee beans started across the world with the race being led by Ottoman Empire. The plantations developed in numerous amounts in south India and were soon hit by an illness. “Coffee rust” started to affect the growth of the plant which prompted increasing imports from South America. By WWI, coffee acreage declined and cleared a path for research.

The Great Depression too halted its popularity which caused the British to advertise for boosting this beverage’s sale. Walter Thompson, the advertisers, recommended the companies to establish coffee shops in Indian cities, therefore creating the base of a great culture of coffee-drinking in high societies and major Indian cities.

A food historian named David Burton, in his book called ‘The Raj at the Table’ wrote, “India’s first coffee house opened in Calcutta after the battle of Plassey in 1780. Soon after, John Jackson and Cottrell Barrett opened the original Madras Coffee House, which was followed in 1792 by the Exchange Coffee Tavern at the Madras Fort.”

He wrote about how the proprietor of the latter enterprise of the latter said that he had decided to operate on the lines of London’s Lloyd’s, by keeping a record of the ships’ arrival as well as departure and offering European and Indian newspapers to his customers for reading. Other houses too offered free utilization of billiard tables, recouping their expenses by the high rate of 1 rupee for a one coffee dish.

Soon, a new, more-resistant, type of the seed known as s795 Arabica was developed, which changed the course of food history. Indian coffee developed quickly with advancement in irrigation and technology and Green Revolution.

Indian filter coffee was made famous by Indian Coffee Houses, operated by the Coffee Board of India, in the 1940s. In the 20th century, the Indian filter coffee migrated to Singapore and Malaysia with Indian Muslims where it is now well known as ‘Kopi tarik‘.

– prepared by Harsimran Kaur of NewsGram. Twitter Hkaur1025

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Your Genes Determine You As a Tea or Coffee Person

"The findings suggest our perception of bitter tastes, informed by our genetics, contributes to the preference for coffee, tea and alcohol," Cornelis said

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Your genes make you tea or coffee lover: Study. Pixabay

Are you a tea or coffee person? The answer may lie in your genetic predisposition towards bitter tastes, say researchers.

It could be because bitterness acts as a natural warning system to protect us from harmful substances.

The study, led by researchers from US-based Northwestern University, and QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute in Australia, explored reactions to three bitter substances — caffeine, quinine and propylthiouracil (PROP) — to understand how they affect people’s preference for drinking tea, coffee and alcohol.

The findings showed that people who were more sensitive to caffeine and were drinking a lot of coffee consumed low amounts of tea.

In other words, people who have a heightened ability to taste coffee’s bitterness — and particularly the distinct bitter flavour of caffeine — learn to associate “good things with it”.

“You’d expect that people who are particularly sensitive to the bitter taste of caffeine would drink less coffee,” said Marilyn Cornelis, assistant professor of preventive medicine at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.

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The findings showed that people who were more sensitive to caffeine and were drinking a lot of coffee consumed low amounts of tea. Pixabay

“The opposite results of our study suggest coffee consumers acquire a taste or an ability to detect caffeine due to the learned positive reinforcement (stimulation) elicited by caffeine.”

The study, published in the journal Scientific Reports, also found that people sensitive to the bitter flavours of quinine and of PROP — a synthetic taste related to the compounds in cruciferous vegetables — avoid coffee.

For alcohol, a higher sensitivity to the bitterness of PROP resulted in lower alcohol consumption, particularly of red wine.

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“The findings suggest our perception of bitter tastes, informed by our genetics, contributes to the preference for coffee, tea and alcohol,” Cornelis said.

Scientists applied Mendelian randomisation — a technique commonly used in disease epidemiology — to test the causal relationship between bitter taste and beverage consumption in more than 4,00,000 men and women in the UK. (IANS)