78 A Coffee pot Percolates in Yemen c.1450 ALTHOUGH LEGEND has it that an Ethiopian goatherd, whose animals became hyper from eating the berries, first noticed coffee's stimulating effects, 15th century Sufis in Yemen were the first to drink it. The Muslim mystics valued coffee's ability to keep them alert during nighttime worship. From their communal services, coffee drinking evolved as a group activity, a trait that carried over to the general Muslim population, which shunned alcohol. Where coffee brewed, so did radical thought. Presaging the Beat caféés of the 1950s, early coffeehouses were magnets for artists and writers and served as hubs of information. Eventually, the political nature of coffee klatches made Muslim clerics nervous, leading them to ban coffee in Mecca in 1511. But the bean survived and, in the next century, caught on in Europe. By 1700 there were 2,000 cafes in London, one of which, Lloyd's, became the giant insurance brokerage. Later, in Paris, Marat and Robespierre saw the first stirrings of the French Revolution over a couple of cups of joe. Between 1880 and 1980--before Starbucks was on every corner--coffee was second only to oil as the world's most traded commodity.