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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.

ALSO READ: Indian researchers: Coffee won’t give extra heart beats

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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Coffee can predict Parkinson’s disease

The team involved 108 people who had Parkinson's disease for an average of about six years and 31 people of the same age who did not have the disease and consumed about two cups of coffee per day

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Parkinson’s disease is named after Dr James Parkinson (1755-1824), the doctor that first identified the condition. Wikimedia commons
Parkinson’s disease is named after Dr James Parkinson (1755-1824), the doctor that first identified the condition. Wikimedia commons

A neurodegenerative disorder which leads to progressive deterioration of motor function due to loss of dopamine-producing brain cells. Yes, that’s Parkinson’s disease. Quite horrifying, isn’t it?

However, there maybe a chance of predicting it.

The way your body metabolises your cup of coffee each morning may determine your chances of developing Parkinson’s disease.

The reason that Parkinson’s disease develops is not known. Wikimedia commons
The reason that Parkinson’s disease develops is not known. Wikimedia commons

Findings

  • People with Parkinson’s disease had significantly lower levels of caffeine in their blood than people without the disease, even if they consumed the same amount of caffeine.
  • Thus, testing the level of caffeine in the blood may provide a simple way to aid the diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease, the researchers said.

“Previous studies have shown a link between caffeine and a lower risk of developing Parkinson’s disease, but we haven’t known much about how caffeine metabolises within the people with the disease,” said Shinji Saiki, MD at the Juntendo University School of Medicine in Tokyo.

“If these results can be confirmed, they would point to an easy test for early diagnosis of Parkinson’s, possibly even before symptoms are appearing,” added David G. Munoz, MD, at the University of Toronto.

“This is important because Parkinson’s disease is difficult to diagnose, especially at the early stages,” Munoz noted.

The main symptoms of Parkinson’s disease are tremor, slowness of movement (bradykinesia) and muscle stiffness or rigidity. Wikimedia commons
The main symptoms of Parkinson’s disease are tremor, slowness of movement (bradykinesia) and muscle stiffness or rigidity. Wikimedia commons

Methodology

  • The team involved 108 people who had Parkinson’s disease for an average of about six years and 31 people of the same age who did not have the disease and consumed about two cups of coffee per day.
  • Their blood was tested for caffeine and for 11 byproducts the body makes as it metabolises caffeine. They were also tested for mutations in genes that can affect caffeine metabolism.
  • The caffeine level was an average of 79 picomoles per 10 microliters for people without Parkinson’s disease, compared to 24 picomoles per 10 microliters for people with the disease.
  • However, there were no differences found in the caffeine-related genes between the two groups.

The study was published in journal Neurology. (IANS)