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History of coffee liqueur: origin

In our previous entries, we delved into the captivating story of pomace brandy and the enigmatic origins of its name. Today, we invite you to embark on a journey through the intriguing history of coffee liquor, a beverage that has piqued the curiosity of many. Who can be credited as its ingenious creator? And from whence does it derive? Read on to satisfy your inquisitive mind.


The exact identity of its inventor remains shrouded in mystery, suggesting that the evolution of this delectable concoction was likely a collaborative effort spanning generations, refined through a series of trial and error. Whatever the circumstances may be, we consider ourselves fortunate that this elixir has withstood the test of time.

Numerous theories abound regarding the origin and lineage of coffee liquor. However, prevailing indications point to the Arab world as the pioneering craftsmen of this exotic libation. It is widely agreed upon by experts and historians that the genesis of coffee itself can be traced back to the Arab civilization.

The Arabs bestowed upon coffee a belief in its healing virtues, ascribed to a tale where the Archangel Gabriel presented the revered Prophet Muhammad with the very first cup of coffee. This celestial offering, in recognition of Muhammad’s pious vigils, was named “qahwa” in homage to the revered Black Stone of the Kaaba in Mecca, symbolizing strength and vitality.

It is speculated that during the era of Muslim dominion, coffee was already consumed in ancient Al-Andalus, its origins stretching across the African continent. Thus, when Christians discovered this captivating elixir upon their conquest of the Kingdom of Granada, it is reasonable to assume that Christians, Jews, and Muslims had already gathered in conviviality over a cup of coffee.

However, it was not until the 15th century, within the colonies of the Americas, that coffee cultivation and production gained widespread popularity. The fervor for coffee did not reach the shores of Europe until two centuries later, circa 1600, when Venetian merchants, braving initial ecclesiastical opposition, introduced this dark elixir to the Western world. Initially deemed a beverage of heretics, coffee would soon win over the Church, resulting in a momentous shift as the Western world traded its beloved wine, the preeminent libation of the era, for the invigorating allure of coffee.

The advent of coffee from the Americas not only improved the quality of the beverage but also served to magnify its popularity. It is from this juncture that myriad theories emerged regarding the genesis of coffee liqueur.

As accounts go, the most plausible origin places its inception in Alicante during the 13th century. At that time, the region was under Arab rule, and it is within this context that the roots of coffee liquor are traced. Inextricably linked to the vibrant pageantry of the Moors and Christians festival, coffee was shared among celebrants, and the addition of liquor lent it an enchanting twist.

Unraveling the precise origins of an event that transpired centuries ago is a formidable task. Nevertheless, some posit that the origins of coffee liqueur can be traced back to 17th-century Jamaica. Indeed, one of the earliest documented recipes for coffee liqueur hails from this tropical realm, although the unmistakable presence of Arab coffee liqueurs cannot be dismissed.

Thus, the allure of coffee liquor persists, perpetuating an enchanting tale that intertwines cultures, traditions, and centuries of craftsmanship.


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