São Paulo – Coffee Lab, one of the most prize-winning coffee shops in Brazil, is offering an online course on the History of Coffee. The project is designed to keep the business afloat for as long as restaurants and cafés in São Paulo remain shut down to prevent coronavirus from spreading.
The first class will cover Arabs’ relationship with coffee. Instructor Cristiana Couto said the Arab people were the first to make the bean into a drink. “The oldest written records are by Arabs. As far as we know, they were the first to make the drink. For example, the earliest accounts of the roasting of coffee, circa the 12th century, are from Arabs. We must remember that up until the 19th century, coffee was considered medicine, and the Arabs used to be great physicians then!,” said Couto, who holds a postdoctoral degree in History of Science from Pontifícia Universidade Católica in São Paulo (PUC-SP), where she studies the science-food connection in 19th century Brazil via recipe books.
Also a journalist specializing in gastronomy, Couto has written for websites and dailies like Folha de S.Paulo and magazines including Prazeres da Mesa, Menu and Revista Espresso. Although her studies mostly revolve around Brazil, she argues that in being pioneers, Arabs have influenced the entire history of coffee. “Their importance cannot be overstated: they mastered techniques in farming, infusion, and eventually roasting. They also left medical writings on the drink,” she said.
According to Couto, the lesson will include the relevance of coffee to countries such as Yemen, whose Mokha port was the first such facility in the world to ship out the grain. Instead of focusing on particular countries, however, the course deals with Arab culture as a whole, as it “branched out across European territories under its rule,” she explained.
The first lesson will also cover ‘the earliest consumer-oriented cafés in the Middle East,’ of which the city of Istanbul was an early hub.
The course will run from April 7 to 16, with three other classes focusing on the history of coffee around the world, including Ethiopia, Europe, the Americas, and areas within Brazil.
Online course in the History of Coffee
April 7-16, 2020
Price: BRL 360.00
Translated by Gabriel Pomerancblum