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The history of coffee can be traced at least as early as the 9th century, in the highlands of Ethiopia. From there it spread to Egypt and Yemen,[5] and by the fifteenth century had reached Persia, Egypt, Turkey, and northern Africa. Coffee was at first not well received. In 1511, it was forbidden for its stimulating effect by conservative, orthodox imams at a theological court in Mecca. However, the popularity of the drink - particularly among intellectuals - led these bans to be overturned in 1524 by an order of the Ottoman Turkish Sultan Selim I. In Cairo, Egypt, a similar ban was instituted in 1532, and the coffeehouses and warehouses containing coffee beans were sacked.[6] From the Muslim world, coffee spread to Europe, where it became popular during the seventeenth century. The Dutch were the first to start the large scale importation of coffee into Europe. In 1538, Léonard Rauwolf, a German physician, having returned from a ten-year trip to the Near East, gave this description of coffee:[7]{cn} “ A beverage as black as ink, useful against numerous illnesses, particularly those of the stomach. Its consumers take it in the morning, quite frankly, in a porcelain cup that is passed around and from which each one drinks a cupful. It is composed of water and the fruit from a bush called bunnu. ” When coffee reached the American colonies, it was initially not as successful as it had been in Europe, as colonists found it a poor substitute for alcohol. However, during the Revolutionary War, the demand for coffee increased to such an extent that dealers had to hoard their scarce supplies of it and raise prices dramatically; part of this is due to the reduced availability of tea from British merchants. Americans' taste for coffee grew during the early nineteenth century, following the War of 1812, which had temporarily cut off access to tea imports, and high demand during the American Civil War as well as many advancements in brewing technology cemented the position of coffee as an everyday commodity in America.


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