How a Little Drink from Turkey (Izmir) Helped form the Modern World

Posted on 05 August 2011

The world is so connected nowadays, and we think we know pretty much everything about how the way of life we enjoy today emerged. I thought this, but then the other day I found out that Coffee, the drink so many of us enjoy around the world today, originated in Turkey, in Izmir to be precise.

Few will have heard of Pasqua Rosee, but it was this very man who brought coffee to Britain and then across Europe. Rosee met British trader Daniel Edwards in Izmir, and so impressed was Edwards with Rosee’s thick mud-like drink named “coffee” that he brought Rosee and his coffee recipe back to England. Rosee and Edwards set up a coffee house in a shed in the churchyard of St Michael’s Alley in 1652.

Coffee was so popular with Edwards’ London friends that he helped Rosee set up his first business to export the beans to the UK.

By 1675 there were some 3000 coffee houses in England, and Rosee had branched out into Europe, opening his first coffee house in Paris in 1672. Inspired by the success of Rosee, Procpopio Cuto went on to open the Café Procope, which became a meeting place for Votaire, Rousseau and Thomas Jefferson and sparked the French enlightenment.

As if that weren’t enough, Englishman Edward Lloyd was also encouraged by Rosee’s success, so much so that he opened his own coffee house: Lloyds of London. This became an important meeting place for sailors and merchants. As some people will know this is where the modern insurance industry and stock market was born.

Of course, today’s half-cafe frapo-mocha latte’s churned out of London coffee shops are miles away from the thimbles of mud-like and exotic drink enjoyed by the 17th century renaissance gentleman. In Izmir though the drink has barely changed in half a century, and you can still drink Turkish coffee (Kahve) in its glorious beauty. The coffee shops that line the promenade and the harbour are the best places to enjoy a cup of Kahve.

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