I ran across this book a while back and got it from the library. Very
interesting, particularly the coffee section. Here is a quote:
"By the early seventeenth century, visiting Europeans were commenting
on the widespread popularity of coffeehouses in the Arab world, and
their role as meeting places and sources of news. ... They were also
popular venues for chess and backgammon, which were regarded as
morally dubious. ... George Sandys, an English traveler who visited
Egypt and Palestine in 1610, observed that 'although they be
destitute of Taverns, yet they have their Coffa-houses, which
something resemble them. There they sit chatting most of the day; and
sippe of a drink called Coffa in little China dishes, as hot as they
can suffer it; blacke as soote, and tasting not much unlike it.' "
Tom Standage, A History of the World in Six Glasses, Walker,
Copyright 2005 by Tom Standage, pp. 137-140.