Coffee has a long and winding story of discovery, starting in the Ethiopian mountainous forests which according to African folklore is where it was first discovered.
One story has it that Kaldi, a monk, discovered it after his goats had eaten red berries from a specific tree he noticed they would have so much energy that they could not sleep through the night. Kaldi reported his findings to the Abbot of the local monastery who then boiled the berries to create a drink, that he found kept him alert through long hours of evening prayer. The Abbot then spread his discovery to other monks and the love of coffee began.
The drink gained large popularity through Arabia and word was spreading to other countries of this medicinal drink. In order to keep coffee to themselves, they formed laws to ban the export of fertile beans. The beans that were being exported were first boiled to render them infertile, and this meant only they could cultivate the coffee plants. An Asian Indian, Baba Budan, snuck a few fertile beans with him back to India and began cultivating them there.
Coffee cultivation and trade began in the Arabian Peninsula, and was being grown in the Yemeni district of Arabia. By the 16th Century coffee was known in Persia, Egypt, Syria and Turkey. European travellers brought back stories of the unusual black beverage by the 17th century, and began to make its appearance across the continent.
As demand grew for coffee cultivation, the Dutch planted coffee in Batavia, and the Island of Java, these plants thrived and soon the Dutch had a successful growing trade in coffee and expanded to the islands of Sumatra and Celebes.
From here beans were cultivated, shipped and enjoyed in many countries, which is a much longer and more detailed story to tell. Coffee shops and bars became a way of socializing, enjoying company as well as an ideal way to start your morning. With coffee’s social aspects the need for it exploded and this brings us to today’s coffee culture.
There is so much more to know of the story of how coffee began and landed in countries all over the world. To many, the idea that it originated in Ethiopia may seem absurd, as we now know and love many other different areas of the world for their coffee cultivation. Coffee is seen throughout history in many tales, and stories written by travelers or seen in documentation as “the black drink” or descriptions such as this.
The book “Travels and Adventures” written by John Smith (British Traveller) describes drinking a Turkish drink called “Coffa” along his travels as well as enjoying a few cups with Princess Pocahantas. Coffee has had a long and whimsical history of being seen as magic, medicinal, and then as a social norm.
Perhaps after reading, you will see your morning cup as a drink with many more tales to tell.