Location: Sustainable Perennial Crops LaboratoryTitle: Richard Bradley’s “A Short Historical Account of Coffee” (1715) and “The Virtue and Use of Coffee” (1721)
Submitted to: Kew Bulletin
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 8/4/2020
Publication Date: 8/23/2021
Citation: Vega, F.E. 2021. Richard Bradley’s “A Short Historical Account of Coffee” (1715) and “The Virtue and Use of Coffee” (1721). Kew Bulletin. 2(3):1-14.
Interpretive Summary: The history of coffee is an area for which there is wide interest worldwide. This paper addresses an important historical event involving a visit by Richard Bradley to the Physic Garden in Amsterdam in 1714 to examine coffee plants. These plants were the progenitors of the coffee plants that were introduced to the American continent in the early 1700s. This article reveals insights of his interactions with other members of the Royal Society and various introductions of coffee plants to England. This information will be of interest to the coffee industry and to members of the public interested in the history of coffee.
Technical Abstract: Richard Bradley published “A Short Historical Account of Coffee” in 1715, an extremely rare book for which only three copies are known. A revised version of the book, entitled “The Virtue and Use of Coffee,” was published in 1721. Bradley’s 1714 trip to the Physic Garden in Amsterdam, where he examined two coffee trees, led to his two coffee books, whose similarities and differences, including the evolution of the two different coffee engravings, are discussed in detail. This article reveals insights of the milieu in which Bradley lived, his interactions with other members of the Royal Society, and the reasons why his 1715 book is so rare. The various introductions of coffee plants to England in the late 17th and early 18th century are discussed, as well as Bradley’s skirmish with James Douglas, who was critical of Bradley’s coffee work.