A brief history: Khair Bey

KhairBeyThe transformation of coffee as a trendy social drink occurred in Mecca through the establishment of the first coffee houses. Known as Kaveh Kanes, these coffee houses were originally religious meeting places..With the spread of coffee as a popular beverage it soon became a subject for heated debate among devout Muslims.
Coffee was originally consumed as part of religious ritual, to keep the celebrants awake during nocturnal prayers. But this limitation soon disappeared. By the late fifteenth century, establishments in Mecca were serving this dark liqueur to pilgrims, and by the early sixteenth century, Cairo had become a center for coffee, establishing the first cafes.

In 1511, Khair Bey, the corrupt governor of Mecca, tries to ban coffee for feat that its influence might foster opposition to his rule. The Arabic word for coffee, kahwah, is also one of several words for wine. In the process of stripping the cherry husk, the pulp of the bean was fermented to make potent liquor. Some argued that the Qu’ran forbade the use of wine or intoxicating beverages, but other Muslims in favor of coffee argued that it was not an intoxicant but a stimulant.
The ban lasted only until the Cairo sultan, a habitual coffee drinker, heard about it and reversed the edict. Other Arab rulers and religious leaders, however, also denounced coffee during the course of the 1500s.
In 1512, he was accused of embezzlement and the Sultan sentenced him to death.


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