Coffee in Isfahan

Coffee (qahvah, in Arabic and Persian, kahve in Turkish) was a major agricultural product of Yemen and Arabia, which found new markets after their conquest by the Ottomans in the early 16th century. Through contact and trade with its eastern neighbours, coffee was exported from Ottoman lands to modern Iran (Persia), becoming well established there by the end of the century.

Isfahan’s Royal Square, Maydan-e Naqsh-e Jahan as seen by Dutch painter and traveller Cornelis de Bruyn in 1714. Image Credit: Rudi Matthee, The Pursuit of Pleasure: Drugs and Stimulants in Iranian History, 1500-1900 (Princeton University Press, 2005), p. 149.

By the end of the 16th century, coffeehouses were a vital aspect of the Safavid dynasty’s capital Isfahan in modern Iran. The major coffeehouses of Isfahan were situated in its main square, Maydan-e Naqsh-e Jahan, at the entrance to the city’s famous bazaar.

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