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Taking the Slow Lane | Alan Hawkins


Had you been living in Yemen in the 1600s, where coffee originated as a drink called qahwa, and followed the growth of the beverage into Europe, you would have been affronted by the fact women were sometimes not allowed in the popular coffee houses.

The banning of coffee has a long history stretching back to the sixteenth century where coffee houses were the reserved domain of the wise, the philosophers, thinkers, and novelists.

Coffee was considered by many to be a drug. This was at a time where Islamic law strictly forbade drunkenness. As the footprint of the popular blend expanded into Europe and England, many considered coffee to be a devilish beverage emanating from the Muslim world. Coffee, despite its new popularity, was oft-maligned by many gainsayers.

History is a little vague about whether women were banned from the many coffee houses around London in the mid-1600s. Some writers in fact suggest that the women who did frequent the coffee houses were of questionable repute. It was in London in 1674 that women gathered together to campaign against coffee, which they termed a heathenish liquor. They claimed the drink rendered their husbands impotent and worse still, that they babbled more than any group of women.

Legend being as it is, I am sure I speak on behalf of every restaurant and coffee shop in Buffalo City – ladies, we have missed you these past weeks and we’d welcome your patronage just as soon as we open our doors.

“If it wasn’t for coffee, I’d have no identifiable personality whatsoever.” – David Letterman

Alan Hawkins is the chief roaster at Cutman & Hawk Coffee. | [email protected]