I’ve recently been asked about the story behind the discovery of coffee. There are quite a few, but this one is by far my favourite:
A goat is seen jumping around the Ethiopian landscape in a strangely chipper mood. Near the goat is a bush, upon which many large, bright, red berries are growing. A tribesman begins to notice that the goat has a particular affinity for these berries, each time becoming extremely hyperactive shortly after consuming them.
Questioning the reason why, a brave herdsman named Kaldi decides to try the berries himself. Like the goat, Kaldi finds himself with a new-found level of energy and alertness. He is amazed and wishes to share this discovery with his tribe, first passing this information on to a trusted monk… who then promptly throws the berries in to a fire, accrediting this power to the devil.
Time passes and the monk finds himself unable to shake his natural human curiosity. He decides to gather more berries, dries them, and boils them to make a hot beverage. He shares this drink with the rest of his monastery, to which great praise is given. It tastes great, and more importantly, it encourages them to pray even more than before!
Word spreads across the tribe and coffee quickly becomes a preferred commodity. Enterprising Arab traders visit the tribe and are encouraged to try this revolutionary beverage. Similarly convinced, they return to their homeland, now known as Yemen, with several bags of coffee in tow. Not wanting to return to Ethiopia each time they want their morning fix, they begin to cultivate the plant for the first time on their own plantations. It is given the name ‘Qahwa’, or ‘that which prevents sleep’.
From there word spreads, trades are made, and coffee farms begin to crop up around the world. Nowadays, coffee is a much-loved global phenomenon, with over two billion cups being consumed each day! (And probably more, accounting for the goats)
Whether it be a legend, a myth, or in fact the true origin, it’s the earliest account of coffee we have – and I love it.