How coffee fueled revolutions and revolutionary ideas?

Here is a summary of the revolutionary power of common coffee. From sparking rebellions in coffee shops to supporting the Industrial Revolution, popular caffeinated beer has driven global change. Three hundred years ago, during the Age of Enlightenment, the coffee shop became the center of innovation. However, years of oppression and cruelty do not allow us to create a sustainable business model.

In 1791, the horrors of life on plantations led Haitians to rebel. The uprising caused numerous crop cuts and, ultimately, blocked their production and export of coffee. It was in the 19th century that coffee underwent a fundamental change, boosting the new industrial economies of the West and becoming the centerpiece of the agricultural economies of several emerging countries in Latin America and certain areas of Asia and Africa. Finally, on the Dutch-controlled Indonesian island of Java, Javanese farmers were extorted as a tax in kind (that is, coffee was eventually transported back to Europe, and there it spread as quickly as it had a century earlier in the Middle East).

This is a factor that is easy to overlook when considering only the commercial exchange of coffee on a large scale. The first British coffee shop opened in Oxford in 1651 and was immediately successful, especially among professors and university students. During the first decades of the 16th century, the vast majority of coffee cultivation was still carried out in Ethiopia. In the middle of the 18th century Enlightenment, caffeine contributed to the intellectual ferment of the time (and justified authorities' fears that coffee shops were potential sources of pernicious political turmoil).

The authorities had to restore order and a legal decision was issued confirming the legality of coffee. The same writers who praised coffee and tea for allowing them to focus their thoughts and write for longer hours also suffered from a terrible lack of sleep. For centuries and around the world, coffee shops became the key to establishing what some philosophers call a “public sphere”, formerly dominated by elites, for a larger mix and class of people. Meanwhile, poets John Dryden, Alexander Pope and writer Jonathan Swift went to court at Will's Coffee House.

It wasn't until the 19th century that coffee merchants began to consolidate a classification and naming scheme different from the port of origin technique. In the Ottoman Empire, for example, where alcohol was banned due to the restrictions of Islam, the coffee shop quickly became a socially acceptable place for men to meet and talk outside the mosque. In Latin America, after World War II, overwhelming rural poverty and the widespread exploitation of workers who work to harvest coffee, bananas and other global commodities caused regional hotbeds of communist activism. In Oxford, locals had begun to call coffee shops “penny universities” because, for the cost of a cup of coffee, they could access intellectual discussions and, more importantly, sober debates.

Benjamín Arrand
Benjamín Arrand

Avid beer maven. Passionate pop culture enthusiast. Passionate tv practitioner. Total zombie practitioner. Total tv evangelist. Hardcore bacon scholar.