The history of coffee is ridden with many interesting stories and fantastic legends of chance occurrences, political intrigues, and the pursuit of wealth and power. Who knew that a simple cup of brew could offer so much adventure?
To learn the history of coffee is to learn how civilization came to be. One sip from a steaming cup brings you back to a time when the effect of coffee beans was first noticed.
According to the story, a sheep herder from Caffa Ethiopia named Kaldi was tending his sheep one day when he noticed something odd about his sheep. The animals became hyperactive after eating the red ‘cherries’ from a certain plant. Curious as to why they would display such strange behavior, he tried a few of these cherries himself and discovered that he too felt as overactive as his herd.
As the story went, a monk passed by and saw how the sheep herder was acting. After hearing the boy’s story about the cherries, he disapproved and scolded him for partaking of the ‘devil’s fruit.’ However, after trying some himself, he soon realized that the fruit of this shiny green plant could help his brother monks stay awake for their prayers.
But that isn’t all that the history of coffee has to offer. Another story (more like a legend really) gives us the name for coffee or ‘mocha.’ It was said that an Arabian, Omar, and his friends were banished to the desert. Without food or water for days, it was very likely that they would die of starvation.
Finally, in desperation, Omar had his friends boil and eat the fruit from an unknown plant. It turned out that not only did this broth save their lives but it was also seen as a religious sign by the people of the nearest town, Mocha. In honor of the occasion, the plant and its beverage was named Mocha, after the town.
However, stories and legends aside, the history of coffee could trace its origin back to Ethiopia where the coffee plant grew naturally. However, with the coming of the Arabs, it was transplanted in Arab soil. From then onwards, the history of coffee was monopolized by Arab tales and the coffee bean itself became a precious commodity.
According to the history of coffee, coffee wasn’t always a drink. In Ethiopia, tribes would wrap the beans in animal fat and used it as their only source of nutrition when they went out on raiding parties. With the coming of the Turks, the history of coffee experienced a revolution for they were the first people to ever use coffee as a drink. They even added spices like cloves, cinnamon, cardamom, and anise to add flavor to the brew, not unlike what we add to our own flavored coffees today.