The legend of coffee

coffee-beansCoffee has become a part of almost all cultures across the world, and was established in Europe long before tea became popular. Although no-one really knows how coffee was originally discovered, there’s a story from Ethiopia that has passed into legend that’s said to explain how the world discovered coffee’s energising properties.

Coffee bushes have grown in the highlands of Ethiopia for centuries, and it’s where the arabica plant first originated before spreading across the world. Today, the country still accounts for 3% of global production.

The story starts in the 9th century, and involves a goatherd called Kaldi, who noticed his goats browsing on the berries of a certain bush. Afterwards, they were energetic and lively and didn’t want to rest at night. Kaldi took his news to the abbot of the local monastery, who was interested enough in the tale to try brewing a drink from the berries. After drinking it, he was able to keep alert during the long hours of evening prayer. The news of the discovery began to spread, at first throughout the monastery and then gradually throughout the country. When the news of the energising drink reached the Arabian peninsula, it started on a global journey and coffee’s reputation was assured.

Although the story is now widely known, it doesn’t appear anywhere in writing until the mid-17th century, so it’s impossible to tell how much truth is in it, if any. What’s beyond dispute, though, is that coffee can make you feel more alert and focussed and that’s led to it becoming one of the world’s favourite drinks.

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