Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the history and social impact of coffee. From its origins in Ethiopia, coffea arabica spread through the Ottoman Empire before reaching Western Europe where, in the 17th century, coffee houses were becoming established. There, caffeinated customers stayed awake for longer and were more animated, and this helped to spread ideas and influence culture. Coffee became a colonial product, grown by slaves or indentured labour, with coffea robusta replacing arabica where disease had struck, and was traded extensively by the Dutch and French empires; by the 19th century, Brazil had developed into a major coffee producer, meeting demand in the USA that had grown on the waggon trails.

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  • Judith Hawley 13 episodes
    Professor of 18th Century Literature at Royal Holloway, University of London
  • Markman Ellis No other episodes
    Professor of 18th Century Studies at Queen Mary University of London
  • Jonathan Morris No other episodes
    Professor in Modern History at the University of Hertfordshire

Reading list

  • The Social Life of Coffee: The Emergence of the British Coffeehouse
    Brian Cowan (Yale University Press, 2005) Google Books →
  • The Coffee Paradox: Global Markets, Commodity Trade and the Elusive Promise of Development
    Benoit Daviron and Stefano Ponte (Zed Books, 2005) Google Books →
  • The Coffee House: A Cultural History
    Markman Ellis (Orion, 2004) Google Books →
  • Coffee and Coffeehouses: The Origins of a Social Beverage in the Medieval Near East
    Ralph Hattox (University of Washington Press, 1985) Google Books →
  • Coffee: A Global History
    Jonathan Morris (Reaktion, 2018) Google Books →
  • Uncommon Grounds: The History of Coffee and How It Transformed our World
    Mark Prendergast (Basic Books, 2010) Google Books →
  • Coffee
    Claudia Roden (Faber, 1977) Google Books →
  • The Global Coffee Economy in Africa, Asia, and Latin America, 1500-1989
    William Clarence Smith and Steven Topik (eds.) (Cambridge University Press, 2003) Google Books →
  • All About Coffee
    William H. Ukers (Martino Fine Books, 2011) Google Books →
  • Black Gold: The Dark History of Coffee
    Anthony Wild (Harper Perennial, 2010) Google Books →

Related episodes

Programme ID: m000c4x1

Episode page:

Auto-category: 641.3373 (Coffee)

Hello (First sentence from this episode) Hello, in 1652 the first coffee house opened in London, not so much a house as a shed, selling to passers-by.