Making my coffee this morning, I found myself wondering what early coffee tasted like. I'm guessing quite different to modern coffee, both in how the beans were, and in how it was prepared or customarily expected to be drunk.

Foods and drinks change over time. I know that it's possible to find places and drinks that are said to more closely resemble historical "chocolatl" drinks. But I can't find the equivalent for early coffeehouse coffee of the 16-17th centuries, or how it was customarily prepared or expected to taste, in those days.

Also, perhaps early middle-eastern coffee from 16the century Turkey and Yemen were different again from the versions that gained popularity in Europe.

I also suspect that I'd have to use a specific type of bean, or prepare the beans a specific way, because the beans themselves have surely evolved and had some traits bred in or out, over time and with massive commercialisation.

Hence my question - if I wanted to experience these early coffees, what should I expect and how can I achieve it?

To be clear, I am excluding coffee that was so early it was basically chewed or bare berries - I'm thinking of early popularised coffees in both Islamic/Middle East areas, and in European areas, if that helps (they could have been quite different).

  • As an aside on this, if any "novelty" or "niche" source these days is actually claiming to make/sell something like this, it would be interesting to know for informational purposes or to perhaps try from them as well. I'm in the UK if relevant, for buying/availability purposes.
  • 7
    I don't think this is off topic for Seasoned Advice, but you may get better answers on the Coffee StackExchange. Interesting question, though!
    – Erica
    Mar 27, 2019 at 11:09
  • There's a dedicated SE for coffee?! Just wow. But asking how to make a particular style of historic coffee should surely be on topic.
    – Stilez
    Mar 27, 2019 at 18:46
  • 1
    Similarly, history.stackexchange.com might be of help.
    – 0xFF
    Mar 27, 2019 at 18:46
  • Oh yeah, I think it's on topic -- just saying if you don't get much in the way of good answers from us, maybe consider asking for migration :)
    – Erica
    Mar 27, 2019 at 21:39

1 Answer 1


I can't answer for the 17th century, but Townsend's has a nice (but long) video on how they prepared coffee in 18th century America. That'll bring you closer to the year you're looking for.

Also, note that, in Europe at least, imitation coffee was quite common. Both deliberate imitation, and fraudlent sales of not-really-coffee.

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