Did you know people have been drinking coffee for thousands of years? The drink has been ingrained in international culture for generations upon generations, but we are still learning about new health benefits created by consuming the beverage. According to folklore about the origin of coffee, the positive mental and physical boost gained through coffee consumption was first noticed once upon a time in Ethiopia.
Nobody really knows the date of the origin of coffee, nor the exact circumstances under which it was found, but a tale passed along through many generations says that we can credit an Ethiopian goat herder for the fantastic discovery.
The goat herder named Kaldi is said to have been minding his herd one day when he noticed a strange occurrence. Some of the goats who were eating from a particular bush were behaving differently, in a more jovial mood than the other goats. They were acting excited, prancing around the fields, nearly dancing on their hind legs. Kaldi became curious as to why they were suddenly so lively. He studied the circumstance and made the connection between the pleasant activities of the goats and the bright red berries hanging on the mangled, half-eaten coffee plant.
Like most curious discoverers, inventors, entrepreneurs and risk-takers of the world, to whom we can credit the better portion of our world’s advancements, Kaldi swiftly decided to try the berries for himself. He tried one – or did he boil them? History can not relay the exact details, and different stories contradict each other regarding the exact circumstances, but regardless, he too noticed the strange energy gained by coffee consumption.
Folklore says he tasted the bitterness of the tree’s fruit, yet found it vaguely sweet and very satisfying. Refreshed, renewed and more alert, he set off to tell his wife about the fascinating discovery.
His wife compelled Kaldi to inform the monks of the strange berries. Strictly religious and highly suspicious of any mind or mood-altering substance, as they considered it, the monks swiftly decided to cast the “sinful” berries into a fire. The action led to the sweet aroma we now attribute to a fresh, delicious coffee brew. The monks, also curious, are said to have crushed the beans, raked them out of the fire and distilled the beans in a pot of boiling water.
According to folklore, it was only minutes before the heavenly aroma drew more monks towards the smell, all gathering to investigate the source of the blissful smell of roasting coffee. The monks tried the substance and were able to maintain energy all night long without sleep. They were pleasantly surprised by the productivity allowed by the drink, which gave them a renewed energy to continue their holy devotions. The abbot and the monks then thanked God for the gift, thinking he had given them the berries so they could pray all night.
Though the exact details for the origin of coffee might not be on record, it’s no surprise that coffee holds a special place in Ethiopia’s culture to this day. Coffee growing and picking produces the livelihood for over 12 million Ethiopians and brings in over two-thirds of the nation’s annual earnings. The nation’s coffee is still internationally recognized as some of the world’s finest.
Image Credit: Steve Evans