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Stone Age Some anthropologists believe the first use of caffeine containing plants may have been as early as 600,000 BCE.   
2737 BCE According to Chinese myth, Emperor Shen Nung of China discovered tea while sitting under a wild tea tree with a cup of hot water. A leaf from the tree fell into his water, creating the first tea.   
900 BCE Homer makes reference to a mysterious black and bitter beverage with the power to ward off sleep ... a reference repeated in several Arabian legends from the same period.   
222 Chinese writing "dated to the year 222 mentions tea as a substitute for wine." 1  
805 Tea brought back to Japan by Buddhist monk Saicho and served to Emporer Saga, who popularized tea in his court. 1  
850 Legendary discovery of coffee by an Ethiopian goat herder named Kaldi. One night his goats don't return home. When he finds them, they are dancing around a shrub with red berries. After trying the berries himself, he too starts dancing. He later speaks with local monks who make a drink of the berries.    [Details]
879 Arabian travelers visit Canton mention tea in their logs. 1  
960 - 1279 Tea's popularity grows in China during the T'ang and Sung dynasties. First documented tea houses founded. 1  
1100 First coffee trees are cultivated on the Arabian peninsula. Coffee beans are first boiled by Arabs making qahwa --- "that which prevents sleep".    [More Info]
1191 Japanese Buddhist monk Eisai returns from studying in China, writes a book about the medicinal value of tea, and founded the first tea plantations in Japan. 1  
1271 - 1295 Marco Polo notes a Chinese official who was removed from office for raising the tea tax. 1  
1450-1475 Arabia. Coffee cultivation and drinking spreads rapidly in Yemen, at first for medicinal or religious purposes, such as promoting alertness during long nights of devotional exercises. 2  
1475 The worlds first coffee shop, Kiva Han, opens in Constantinople. Turkish law makes it legal for a woman to divorce her husband if he fail to provide her with her daily quota of coffee.    [More Info]
1475 - 1500 Arabia. Dervishes spread the use of coffee to Medina and Mecca. Secular use becomes more prominent, in part because wine is forbidden by the Koran. Coffee houses are established and coffee becomes a much desired luxury. Many holy men begin to attack coffee as also contrary to the Koran. 2  
1511 Khair Bey, the governor of Mecca, tries to ban coffee for fear that its influence might foster opposition to his rule. Coffee merchants are temporarily shut down in Constantinople. After a week long "reign of terror", the sultan sends word that coffee is sacred and has the governor executed.   
1529 The Turkish army, fleeing Vienna after being defeated, leaves behind bags of coffee. Franz Georg Kolshitzky, the man responsible for Vienna's victory, claims the coffee as his reward and establishes central Europe's first coffee house.    [Details]
1542 Arabia/Turkey. The coffee controversy spreads throughout the Ottoman Empire, as coffee --the "Wine of Islam"-- becomes a regular article of diet in all classes. Sultan Suleiman the Great bans coffee in 1542, but coffee houses multiply in Constantinople. 2  
1597 The first English printed reference to tea appears in a translation of Dutch navigator Jan Hugo van Lin-Schooten's Travels. He calls the beverage "chaa". 3  
c. 1600 Pope Clemente VIII was asked to place a ban on coffee drinking, he refused saying, "This beverage is so delicious it would be a sin to let only misbelievers drink it!" His subsequent "baptism" of coffee put the issue to rest.   
1607 Coffee is brought to the New World by Captain John Smith, founder of Virginia at Jamestown. Canadian historians claim it had previously arrived in Canada.   
1616 The Dutch smuggle a coffee plant into Europe and attempt cultivation, but fail.   
1652 First coffee house opens in Britain.    [Details]
1654 First coffee house opens in Italy.   
1668 Coffee replaces beer as New York's City's favourite breakfast drink.   
1672 First coffee house opens in Paris.   
Dec 23, 1675 In response to the Women's Petition Against Coffee, King Charles II closes all coffee houses in Britain, but reversed his decision Jan 8th when faced with public protest.    [Details]
c. 1685 The Dutch become the first to transport and cultivate coffee commercially. A coffee plant is smuggled out of the Arab port of Mocha and transported to Ceylon and their East Indian colony at Java for cultivation.   
1685 Treatise on coffee, tea and chocolate published by French druggist Dufour, titled "Traitez nouveaux & curieux du café du thé et du chocolate".    [Details]
1721 The first coffeehouse opens in Berlin.   
1723 Coffee plants are introduced in the Americas for cultivation. Gabriel de Clieu, a French naval officer, transports a seedling to Martinique. By 1777, 19 million coffee plants are cultivated on the island.   
1727 The Brazilian coffee industry gets its start from seedlings smuggled out of Paris.   
1763 Venice has over 2,000 coffee shops.   
1777 Frederick the Great of Prussia tries to block the importation of green coffee because it is competing with local products. He reverses his decision because of public outcry. 4   [Details]
1822 The prototype of the first espresso machine is created in France.   
1869 Coffee leaf rust appears in Ceylon and destroys most of the plantations in India, Ceylon and other parts of Asia within the next 10 years.   
1880's Caffinated soft drinks are first invented.   
1882 The New York Coffee Exchange opens.   
1886 Former wholesale grocer Joel Cheek names his popular coffee blend "Maxwell House," after the hotel in Nashville, TN where it's served.   
1890 Lipton tea is first introduced.   
1903 German coffee importer Ludwig Roselius gives a batch of ruined coffee beans to a researcher, who perfects the process of removing caffeine from beans without destroying the flavor. Roselius markets the "de-caffinated" coffee under the name "Sanka", which is introduced to the U.S. in 1923.   
1904 American tea and coffee merchant Thomas Sullivan invents the tea bag for sending samples to his customers.   
1905 The first commercial espresso machine is manufactured in Italy.   
1908 The invention of the worlds first drip coffeemaker. Melitta Bentz makes a filter using blotting paper.   
1910 German decaffeinated coffee is introduced to the U.S. by Merck & Co., under the name Dekafa.   
1933 Dr. Ernest Illy develops the first automatic espresso machine.   
1938 Nescafé instant coffee (freeze dried) is invented by the Nestlé company to assist the Brazilian government in solving its coffee surplus problem.   
1940 The US imports 70 percent of the world coffee crop.   
1942 During W.W.II, American soldiers are issued instant Maxwell House coffee in their ration kits. In the U.S., widespread hoarding leads to coffee rationing.   
1962 American per-capita coffee consumption peaks at more than three cups a day.   
1971 First Starbucks opens in Seattle.   
1995 Coffee is the worlds most popular beverage. More than 400 billion cups are consumed each year.   

  1.   Pendell D. Pharmako / Dynamis. Mercury House, 2002.
  2.   Austin G. "A Chronology of Psychoactive Substance Use".
  3.   Encyclopedia Britannica. 1957.
  4.   Scientific American. Jun 1998.