While coffee originated in Arabian lands, the legend of its powers of sobriety and mental clarity quickly spread far beyond Arabian borders.
The Christian world grew increasingly alarmed about the legendary qualities of coffee, which was even then being sold by apothecaries â€“- by prescription only — in Venice. Petitioners brought coffee before Pope Clement VII in order that he might condemn it as the â€œdevilâ€™s brewâ€?. To their surprise, Clement immensely enjoyed the beverage, and baptized it, so that all could enjoy the beverage without guiltâ€¦ and without a prescription.
Arab traders were keen to ship boiled or parched seeds the entire world over, but were careful to never allow beans or cuttings that could create new coffee plants to leave the Arabian borders. Coffee became so precious to them, that it was made illegal to export fertile beans.
On pilgrimage to Mecca in the middle of the 1600s, Baba Budan, a revered Moslem holy man from India, discovered for himself the wonders of coffee. In his zeal to share what heâ€™d found with his fellows at home, he smuggled seven coffee beans out of Arabia, wrapped around his belly. On his return home, he planted the beans in the hills of Mysore, India, and nurtured the young coffee bushes that resulted. Coffee flourished in the hills of India â€“ hills now named after Baba Budan.
In short order, enterprising Dutch traders bought some of these coffee plants, and shipped them to faraway colonies in Indonesia and Ceylon. The Arabian monopoly of the coffee trade was over, and the Western world was waking up to a new aromaâ€¦ one that would now play a fateful role in Europe, and beyond.