Ground coffee and coffee beans around cup of espresso

How Coffee Took Over Europe

May 25, 2020

No one can deny the power of coffee.

We’ve talked before about how coffee spread lightning-fast through Africa and the Middle East, so today we’re taking it a step further and discovering how the jump to Europe truly developed the beauty and love of coffee.

Though coffee fast became a thing of beauty in Europe, it didn't start out that way. Coffee first arrived in Europe through the imprisonment of Turkish slaves by the Knights of St John in 1565. The slaves were able to impress their captors with the ability to brew coffee, and it became a way for them to earn money as it was swiftly adopted by high society.

Soon coffee became a popular import from Africa, and coffee was shared, spread, and sipped by the European upper class. It was during this time that the different countries began to start their own unique customs with coffee. In 1683 the first Austrian coffee house was opened by a Polish military officer, and it was here that it became common for individuals to add dairy and sugar to their coffee. The first coffee house in London, England imported their coffee beans from Turkey and as its popularity grew it was imported to Britain by the British East India Company. By 1675 there were more than 3000 coffee houses in England, and they even became a threat to King Charles II -  they had become favored places to gather to discuss politics and religion, threatening his rule. It was during the time of King Louis XIV that coffee was established in France after being gifted by Muslim travelers along with tea, sugar, and chocolate. Between 1673 and 1677 Germany introduced its own coffee houses in Bremen and Hamburg, and like other parts of Europe it was adopted by the middle and upper class before being taken up by the ruling class.

While some countries had to warm up to this new caffeinated beverage, Italy adopted coffee incredibly fast. First coming to the Republic of Venice in 1580, by 1763 Venice alone had over 200 coffee shops. Today Italy is one of the most renowned and relatable countries when thinking about common day coffee practices, with Italian coffee styles becoming popular around the world. And Italy’s influence is undeniable - after all, they invented espresso.