December 15, 2010
Coffee beans are indigenous to Ethiopia where they call the plant “bunn”, but it was not very popular until the Arabs began cultivating it in quantity in the 1400s. Drinking the infusion of roasted beans that boosted energy and suppressed appetite became very popular with Sufi monasteries in southern Arabia and Yemen, then it spread throughout the Arabic world, then to Italy, then to the rest of Europe, to Indonesia, and to the Americas. Coffee, coffee, coffee!
Don’t like that origin story? There’s always the apocryphal (but cute) story of Kaldi, the Ethiopian goatherd and his dancing goats!
Kaldi, noticing the curiously energetic effects when his flock nibbled on certain bright red berries, decided to try the fruit himself. His exhilaration prompted him to bring the berries to an Islamic holy man in a nearby monastery. But, as is typical of most “holy” men, the holy man rained on his parade, disapproved of their use, and threw them into a fire… from which an enticing aroma billowed! The roasted beans were quickly raked from the embers, ground up, and dissolved in hot water, yielding the world’s first cup of coffee.
Googling Kaldi yields About 7,040,000 results in 0.22 seconds. Not bad for a mythical goatherd invented by a Catholic professor of oriental languages in the 1600s.