Coffee Etymology

2ab4a901d49abc63939fb1b05deeac13.jpgCoffee is the most consumed beverage in the world after water. It has very similar names in all the five continents: café, caffè, cafea, kahve, kahvi, kofye, kahawa,  but in Ethiopia, it´s homeland coffee has a completely different name today: in Amharic (the official language of Ethiopia), coffee is called Bunna.

Apparently the Arabs referred to the coffee cherries and bush as Bunn, the pulp as Quishr, and the beverage as Bunchum. In order to prepare the beverage in the form of a wine, the Arabs gave coffee the name of qahwah. The word qahwah originally referred to a type of wine, whose etymology is given by Arab lexicographers as deriving from the verb qahā (قها, “to lack hunger”) in reference to the drink’s reputation as an appetite suppressant. The word qahwah is sometimes alternatively traced to the Arabic quwwa (“power, energy”), or to Kaffa, a medieval kingdom in Ethiopia whence the plant was exported to Arabia. The name then became degenerated ascahueh. According to the Islamic Encyclopedia, Kahwah is an Arabic word of uncertain etymology, and is the base of the word coffee.

In 1610 the Portuguese Jew, Pedro Teixeira (in his Travels) used the word kavàh and in 1684 Dufour (Traités Nouveaux et Curieux du Café, du Thé, et du Chocolat) says the word is derived from caouhe, a name given by the Turks to the beverage prepared from the seed.

Whatever there may be in these various etymologies, it remains a fact that the word coffee comes from an Arabian word, whether it be kahua, kahoueh, kaffa or kahwa, and that the peoples who have adopted the drink have all modified the Arabian word to suit their pronunciation. This is shown by giving the word as written in various modern languages:

French, café; Breton, kafe; German, kaffee; Dutch, koffie ; Danish, kaffe; Finnish, kahvi; Hungarian, kavé; Bohemian, kava; Polish, kawa; Roumanian, cafea; Croatian, kafa; Servian, kava; Russian, kophe; Swedish, kaffe; Spanish, café; Basque, kaffia; Italian, caffè; Portuguese, café; Latin (scientific), coffea; Turkish, kahué; Greek, kaféo; Arabic, qahwah (coffee berry, bun); Persian, qéhvé (coffee berry, bun); Annamite, ca-phé; Cambodian, kafé; Dukni, bunbund; Teluyan, kapri-vittulu; Tamil, kapi-kottai or kopi; Canareze, kapi-bija; Chinese, kia-fey, teoutsé; Japanese, kéhi; Malayan, kawa, koppi; Abyssinian, bonn; Foulak, legal café; Sousou, houri caff; Marquesan, kapi; Chinook, kaufee; Volapuk, kaf; Esperanto, kafva.

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