Six libations that have helped shape our world

Coffee

The story of modern coffee starts in the Arabian Peninsula, where roasted beans were first brewed around A.D. 1000. Sometime around the 15th century coffee spread throughout the Arab world.

In the Arab world coffee rose as an alternative to alcohol, and coffeehouses as alternatives to tavernsóboth of which are banned by Islam.

When coffee arrived in Europe it was similarly hailed as an "anti-alcohol" that was quite welcome during the Age of Reason in the 18th century.

Just at the point when the Enlightenment is getting going, here's a drink that sharpens the mind. The coffeehouse is the perfect venue to get together and exchange ideas and information. The French Revolution started in a coffeehouse.

Coffee also fuelled commerce and had strong links to the rituals of business that remain to the present day. Lloyds of London and the London Stock Exchange were both originally coffeehouses.
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