Coffee (Turkish Kahve), the seeds of the plant coffea Ardbica, of the order cinchona-ceae; also the beverage prepared by infusion or decoction of them in boiling water. In southern Abyssinia the plant grows wild in great profusion, and there it has been in use from very remote times. Its name is therefore generally derived from Kaffa, the name of a district S. of Abyssinia.. It also grows wild in western Africa. The coffee-producing belt of the world lies between the isothermal lines of lat. 25° N. and 30° S. The plant grows at an altitude as high as 6,000 ft. above the sea; but it does not flourish where the temperature is below 55°. It thrives in warm situations upon the slopes of hills and in soil not retentive of rain. The cultivation of coffee is widely diffused throughout the tropics, the principal countries being Brazil, Java, Ceylon, Sumatra, the isle of Reunion, the western coast of India, Arabia, Abyssinia, the West Indies, Central America, Venezuela, Guiana, Peru, Bolivia, and some of the Pacific islands. The plant attains the height of 8 to 20, and sometimes 30 ft. The trunk is covered with a grayish bark, and its white flowers grow in thick clusters around the branches.
It is usually kept down by pruning to about 5 ft. in height, to increase its productiveness and for convenience in gathering the fruit. The slender and pliable branches then spread out and bend down like those of an apple tree. The plants are raised from the seed in nurseries, and when a year old are transplanted and set out in rows. In three years they begin to yield fruit, but are not in full bearing till the fifth year; they continue to yield for 20 years or longer. The leaves, of oblong-ovate and pointed form, grow in pairs, one opposite the other. They are four or five inches long, smooth and shining, and of dark green color. The plant being an evergreen, the foliage is always fresh; and though at certain seasons the blossoms suddenly appear scattered among the dark leaves like flakes of snow, they are hardly ever entirely absent. They continue to put forth while the fruit of former blossoms is coming to maturity, and so the ripe coffee may be gathered at almost every season; but the real harvests are usually two, and sometimes three, in the course of the year. The fruit when ripe becomes red and finally dark purple. It resembles a cherry, and the fleshy portion which surrounds the seeds is very sweet and palatable.
Each berry contains two seeds; their flat sides are opposed to each other in the centre of the pulp, and are separated by a thin layer of this and by the tough membrane which closely envelopes both. Sometimes one seed is abortive, and the other becomes round. This is the case with the Wynaad coifee from India, and the so-called "male berry" coffee. As the fruit dries, the pulp forms a sort of shell or pod, which is removed by a process of curing in order to prepare the seed for market. In the West Indies the fruit is picked by hand at inter. vals during the seasons of harvest; but in Arabia, where no rains prevail which would beat it from the trees, it is allowed to remain till ready to fall, and is then shaken off upon cloths spread upon the ground. Its perfect ripeness may be one reason of its superior quality. It is next dried in the shade, and the pulp is afterward removed by hand. In the East and West Indies and South America the •curing is usually performed by exposing a layer of the fruit several inches in thickness to the heat of the sun, so that fermentation takes place. When the moisture has disappeared, the dried fruit is passed between wooden rollers, and sometimes pounded in wooden mortars, and the pulp is then washed away.
The tough membrane is separated after the seeds are dry by a similar process with a heavy pair of rollers. The chaff is next removed by winnowing. - From Ethiopia the use of coffee is said to have been introduced into Persia as early as A. D. 875, and into Arabia from the latter country or from Africa about the 15th century. The earliest written accounts of the use of coffee are by Arabian writers of this period; and it appears that in the city of Aden it became in the latter half of this century a very popular drink, first with lawyers, studious persons, and those whose occupations required wakefulness at night, and soon after with all classes. Its use gradually extended to other cities, and to those on the eastern shores of the Mediterranean. It is said to have been publicly sold in Constantinople in 1554, and to have found its way thence to Venice in 1615. Rauwolf, a German (in 1582) is said to be the first European who makes mention of it. The plant is described in the works De Plantis AEgypti and Be Medicina AEgyptiorum of Prospero Alpini, 1591 and 1592. Burton in his "Anatomy of Melancholy" (1621) is supposed to be the first English writer who notices it. "The Turks," he says, "have a drink called coffee (for they use no wine), so named of a berry as black as soot and as bitter, which they sip up as warm as they can suffer, because they find by experience that that kind of drink so used helpeth digestion and procureth alacrity." A Greek servant of a Turkey merchant opened the first coffee house in London in 1652, the first in England having been opened a year before at Oxford by a Jew, Jacob. At the close of the century the annual consumption of coffee in the kingdom amounted to about 100 tons.
Its culture was introduced into Java from Arabia by the Dutch between 1680 and 1690, and it was thence extended throughout the East India islands. In 1715 Louis XIV. received from the magistrates of Amsterdam a fine coffee tree, then bearing both green and ripe fruit. This, according to Du Tour, was the stock of all the West India coffee. The Dutch introduced its cultivation into Surinam in 1718. (See H. Welter, Essai sur l'histoire du cafe, Paris, 1868). - The raw coffee beans are tough and horny, difficult to reduce to powder, and consequently require a preparatory roasting, that water may take up their soluble ingredients. Even after this the hardness of the fragments is such that the genuine particles may by this quality be distinguished from those of other substances used as adulterants. The average composition of raw coffee, as determined by M. Payen, is in 100 parts:
The Coffee Plant.
10 to 13.00
Glucose, dextrine, and organic acid.......
Legumine and caseine......................
Other nitrogenous substances..............
Caffetannate of caffeine and potassium....
3.5 to 5.00
Viscid essential oil (insoluble in water)...............
Aromatic oils, some lighter, others heavier than water.
Some authorities state that it contains from 6 to 8 per cent, of cane sugar; in the roasting this must be nearly or quite all converted into caramel. The most important principles are the caffeic acid, resembling in its astringent character, and also in containing much gluten, the tannin of tea; the alkaloid, caffeine, which is identical with the theine of tea; and the fragrant volatile oil, called caffeone. This oil is distinguished by the microscope in minute drops in the cells or between the outer membrane and the body of the seed, and may be taken up by distillation with water. Roasting disperses it through the solid substance, and in part or wholly expels it, if the process is pushed too far. The caffeic acid, especially, is modified by roasting, and is supposed by chemists to afford the greater portion of the flavor and peculiar properties of the coffee. The proportion of caffeine is only about one half that of theine in an equal weight of tea. (See Caffeine.) Coffee when roasted loses its hygroscopic water, which should first be allowed to escape at a moderate heat from an open vessel.
The process may then be continued at a higher temperature in a vessel closed to prevent the escape of the aroma, and constantly agitated to avoid charring the grains and expelling the oil, by which its bitter quality is made to predominate and the aromatic is lost; a slight excess of heat injures the quality of the coffee. The process should be stopped when the beans are of a chestnut brown; they have then lost about 20 per cent. in weight and gained 50 per cent. in bulk. When removed from the fire, the vessel should be kept closed until cool, that the aromatic vapor may be reabsorbed as much as possible. After roasting, it deteriorates by exposure, and should therefore be soon used, unless kept in tight vessels. It may be injured by absorbing the odor of other substances. Even the raw coffee is liable to be damaged from this cause, and it is found objectionable to ship it in vessels that have been previously freighted with sugar; a few bags of pepper have spoiled a whole cargo of coffee. Freshly roasted and ground coffee tied up in linen has been found to ignite spontaneously. After roasting, the coffee is ground to powder.
Boiling, if continued, will cause a loss of the aroma, and increase the bitterness; hence an infusion obtained by steeping is preferable to a decoction, but the water should remain in contact with the coffee long enough to extract the greater portion of its agreeable qualities, which is not the case in the use of the percolating apparatus introduced by Count Rumford, and afterward variously modified. In Arabia the berry is coarsely broken in a mortar, boiled smartly, and strained before drinking. In Asia coffee is used in a thick decoction. In Sumatra the natives make use of the leaf of the plant instead of the seed, ascribing to it more of the bitter and nutritious property. It may also be cultivated for the leaves where the production of seed would fail from unsuitableness of climate or soil. The leaves are moderately roasted and then rubbed to powder in the hands, and this powder is used like tea. The infusion is said to resemble in taste coffee, as usually prepared, and tea combined. - It is a remarkable fact that the same peculiar principle should exist in three or more vegetable productions, which, though not at all resembling each other in other respects, have been selected as beverages by almost all nations, some adopting one of them and others another.
This fact, pointed out by Liebig, as also that this principle furnishes the elements of the bile, is suggestive of a peculiar adaptation of it to the needs of the human system. This principle, called theme in tea and caffeine in coffee, is theobromine in cocoa, and the same is recognized in the guar ana officinalis and the ilex Paraguensis, which have long served the aborigines of South America the purposes of tea. Coffee and tea are both used in temperate regions; but in the colder climes tea appears to be generally preferred, and is frequently exclusively employed. The northern limit of the coffee-consuming portion of the world is about 60°. - The best coffee of commerce is the Mocha, and next to this is the Java. The seeds of the former are small and of a dark yellow color; those of Java and the East Indies are larger and of a paler yellow; while those of the West Indies and Brazil have a bluish or greenish gray tint. The Mocha coffee is grown in the province of Yemen, in Arabia; but much of the coffee sold under that name is produced in the East Indies and sent to Mocha, where it is reshipped, while no inconsiderable portion of it comes from Africa and Brazil. Java coffee is distinguished into pale yellow, the newest and cheapest, and brown, which is the oldest and most esteemed.
These varieties depend on the curing and the age of the coffee. The principal markets for Java coffee are Holland and the United States. The greatest coffee-producing country is Brazil, more than half the coffee consumed in the world being produced there. It is the great commercial staple of the empire, and its principal market is the United States. Besides the provinces adjacent to Rio de Janeiro, the coffee plant flourishes in the shade of the Amazon forests, and, with moderate care, yields two annual crops; and the Ceara coffee, much esteemed, grows on the mountain slopes, at an elevation of from 2,000 to 3,000 feet above the sea. In the province of Para the coffee plant is seen growing on almost every roadside, thicket, or waste. The coffee of Brazil has little reputation, and is even underrated. This is attributed by Prof. Agassiz to the fact that "a great deal of the best produce of Brazilian plantations is sold under the name of Java, or as the coffee of Martinique or Bourbon, while the so-called Mocha coffee is often nothing but the small round beans of the Brazilian plant found at the summits of the branches and very carefully selected." The total exports from Rio de Janeiro and Santos are stated at 401,127,200 lbs. in 1869-'70, 468,063,200 lbs. in 1870-'71, and 327,226,080 lbs. in 1871-2. The amount of coffee received into the United States from Brazil has been as follows for a series of years:
In 1868, 15,822,501 lbs. of coffee from Brazil were imported into Great Britain; in 1869, 22,267,953; in 1870, 14,057,893; and in 1871, 23,066,344. Next to Brazil in extent of production is Java. The amount exported from Java and Sumatra to Europe in 1860 is stated at 122,790,923 lbs.; in 1869, 121,655,798; and in 1870, 156,010,912. Almost the entire production of Java is shipped to Holland. The amount thus received into Holland in 1867 was 157,036,316 lbs.; in 1868, 145,935,724; in 1869, 110,456,626; and for the 11 months ending Nov. 30, 1870, 142,039,928. Great Britain is the principal market for the coffee produced in Ceylon, which ranks third as a coffee-producing country. In 1860, the amount imported from Ceylon into Great Britain was 63,244,900 lbs., valued at £1,599,293; in 1868,101,929,153 lbs., valued at £2,986,479; in 1869, 95,103,970 lbs., valued at $2,867,724; in 1870, 97,964,922 lbs., valued at £2,790,898; and in 1871, 90,-680,570 lbs., valued at £2,623,263. - The most extensive coffee-consuming countries are the United States, Great Britain, France, and Germany. In the United States, according to the report of the chief of the bureau of commerce and navigation, the consumption for several years, ending June 30, has been as follows:
The total amount of coffee imported into the United States for a series of years, with the value, is as follows:
The chief countries whence coffee was imported into the United States in 1872 were:
British East Indies..........
British West Indies..........
Central American States.....
Dutch East Indies...........
United States of Colombia....
The total amount of coffee imported into Great Britain for the year ending Dec. 31, 1871, was:
Computed real value.
The imports and the quantities retained for home consumption have been:
Home Consumption, lbs.
The amount of coffee imported into France for home consumption was 104,268,255 lbs. in 1867? 115,380,744 lbs. in 1868, 110,996,852 lbs. in 1869, and for the six months ending June 30, 1870, 59,913,571 lbs. From 1789 to 1830 a duty of 2 1/2 cents per pound was imposed upon coffee imported into the United States. In the latter year this duty was removed, but again imposed in 1861. It varied from 3 to 5 cents per pound until July 1, 1872, when the importation of coffee was again made free. - An infusion of roasted coffee contains three constituents which differ somewhat in their action. These are tannic acid, caffeine, and empyreumatic products of the albumen and legumine of the raw berry. Only a small portion of the caffeine is destroyed in the roasting, and that is mostly converted into methylamine. (See Caffeine.) Coffee increases the frequency of the pulse and activity of the mind, which is often so prolonged as to prevent sleep. Large doses produce palpitation of the heart, and habitual coffee drinkers are liable to have the digestion considerably impaired. In the absence of belladonna, it may be used as an antidote in cases of poisoning by opium, a strong infusion of the burnt berry being used and given in doses according to the symptoms.
It is sometimes given to relieve vomiting, particularly of a nervous character. Roasted coffee neutralizes noxious odors, and is antiseptic in a mild degree. It is best applied by first drying and crushing the raw beans, and then roasting the powder at a moderate heat to a dark brown color, when it may be sprinkled about or simply exposed on a plate where the effluvium exists. It is often adulterated (see Adulteration, and CHI-cory), and this may be suspected when water is quickly colored by it, and the presence of chiccory or burnt sugar inferred. One of the readiest means of detecting foreign vegetable or animal matter is by using the microscope. Venetian red or native sesquioxide of iron may be detected in the ashes either by inspection or the application of chemical reagents.