Throughout the history and development of coffee as not just a beverage but a global commodity, women have always played a key part. So this International Women’s Day, we decided to put together an infographic looking at the incredible role women have had in that daily cup of coffee we so take for granted.

The world’s first coffeehouse, Kiva Han, opened during the 15th century in Constantinople, Turkey (present day Istanbul). Kiva Han served Turkish coffee strong, black and unfiltered. At the time, some people believed coffee was an aphrodisiac, while others thought it was a tonic that could help women with their monthly cramps.

FUN FACT: In Turkey, coffee quickly became so popular a law was established that allowed a woman to divorce her husband if he failed to provide her with her daily quota of coffee!

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By the 1600s, coffeehouses began to emerge in England and across Europe, and became a popular spot for upperclass businessmen to meet. Women were not generally invited to these coffeehouses. Doctors welcomed the consumption of coffee in these establishments as a substitute for drinking alcohol in taverns, but married women were not so happy with the new drink.

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The women of England made their distaste for coffeehouse culture known when they publicly put out “The Women’s Petition Against Coffee.”

Johann Sebastian Bach composed his Kaffee-Kantate. This piece of music was partly an ode to coffee and partly a challenge to the movement in Germany to prevent women from drinking coffee (because the drink was thought to make women sterile). The cantata includes the aria: “Ah! How sweet coffee tastes! Lovelier than a thousand kisses, sweeter far than muscatel wine! I must have my coffee.”

William and Elizabeth Dakin were granted patents in England on an apparatus for “cleaning and roasting coffee and for making decoctions.” The roaster specification covered a gold, silver, platinum, or alloy-lined roasting cylinder and traversing carriage on an overhead railway to move the roaster in and out of the roasting oven; and the “decoction” specification covered an arrangement for twisting a cloth-bag ground-coffee-container, or applied a screw motion to a disk within a perforated cylinder containing the ground coffee, so as to squeeze the liquid out of the grounds after infusion had taken place.

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Without Melitta Bentz, the world might not have drip coffee. Melitta was a housewife from Dresden who invented the paper filter using her son’s school notebook. Prior to this simple (and genius!) application of paper, cups of coffee were full of grounds, overly bitter, and the linens used to strain the beans had to be washed repeatedly. Frau Bentz’s paper filter was easy to use, cheap to make, and disposable! She filed her patent in 1908, and the rest is coffee history.

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In The Constance Spry Cookery Book, Constance Spry wrote: “During the war one accepted indifferent after-dinner coffee as a necessity, but when, after the war, one sought to find the coffee remembered of days gone by, one found disappointment.”

Abigail Folger, the heiress to the Folger coffee fortune, is tragically killed by the Manson family at the home of film maker Roman Polanski when Folger is at the home visiting Sharon Tate. Folger was one of TK victims of the Manson family’s murderous rampage that day.
Karen Cebreros and Kimberly Easson planned a women-only coffee trip to Nicaragua and Costa Rica. Their goal was to encourage a better understanding of the issues faced by women in coffee-growing regions, and to create connections between women in all segments of the coffee industry. From this trip, the International Women’s Coffee Alliance (IWCA) was born. Since its founding, the IWCA has remained focused on promoting possibilities for women in coffee communities throughout the world.

[IMAGE: dark-roasted-coffee-beans-16945157] might have to buy this image, i could not find a non-watermarked version.

The Guinness World Record for the most coffee beans moved with chopsticks in one minute was won by Cynthia Nojicic, who moved 38 beans.


The History of the Coffeehouse