Coffee and mysticism have been linked from the very beginning. Legends tell of an Ethiopian goat-herd named Kaldi who noticed how his goats danced about after eating wild coffee berries. Kaldi tried some coffee berries for himself and found they had the same effect on him. Other legends credit a Sufi healer/sage named Omar the Dervish with discovering the healing properties of brewed coffee. Coffee soon became known as “the wine of Islam” and was used by Sufi mystics in Yemen and elsewhere, helping them stay awake longer for Zikr (sacred chanting) and whirling.
Because of its association with Islam, coffee was initially banned in Europe until Pope Clement VIII (1536-1605) “Christianized” it by infallibly decreeing, “This devil’s drink is so good, we should cheat the devil by baptizing it.” Soon thereafter, Christian monks began using coffee to stay awake for their prayers. Cappucino is named for the Capuchin monks, whose habits contain similar shades of brown and white.
In later years coffee came to be associated with radicals, “heretics,” and freethinkers, to such an extent that coffeehouses were actually closed by law during some periods of history, both in Europe and in the Middle East. Coffeehouses were associated with espresso-sipping existentialists during the 1920’s and with poetry-spouting Beatniks in the 1950’s. Even today, coffeehouses (especially ones that are independent and locally-owned) are the natural gathering spaces for mystics, postmodernists, and others who just can’t bring themselves to drink bad coffee.
So sit back, enjoy your coffee, and join us!