mainLEGENDSNGM ARTICLEMAP
ROASTSCOFFEE TALK


Indian Baba Budan smuggles
beans on his belly.


ESCAPE FROM ARABIA
(Circa 1000 to 1600)

Coffee as we know it kicked off in Arabia, where roasted beans were first brewed around A.D. 1000. By the 13th century Muslims were drinking coffee religiously. The “bean broth” drove dervishes into orbit, kept worshippers awake, and splashed over into secular life. And wherever Islam went, coffee went too: North Africa (map), the eastern Mediterranean, and India (map).

Arabia made export beans infertile by parching or boiling, and it is said that no coffee seed sprouted outside Africa or Arabia until the 1600s—until Baba Budan. As tradition has it, this Indian pilgrim-cum-smuggler left Mecca with fertile seeds strapped to his belly. Baba’s beans bore fruit and initiated an agricultural expansion that would soon reach Europe’s colonies...

[next]


© 1999 National Geographic Society. All rights reserved.