Friday, January 27, 2012

Coffee Tales - The Ethiopian legend of Kaldi, or is it true?

John Frederick Lewis (English artist, 1804-1876) The Coffee Bearer 1857

The story of Kaldi, a 9th-century Ethiopian goatherd & ancestor of today's Oromo tribe, who reportedly discovered coffee, did not appear in writing until 1671 AD & is probably a myth. The story is fun, nonetheless.

The story goes that Kaldi noticed his goats were particularly happy & energetic, as they danced from one coffee shrub to another, incessantly nibbling on the berries containing the beans. Kaldi decided to eat a few himself & soon he was also addicted to the berries.

He shared his discovery with a few nearby Muslim holy men who soon began plucking berries from the shrubs to share with brothers. Now it is said that some of the holy men disapproved of their use & threw them into the fire, from which an enticing aroma billowed attracting more holy men. The roasted beans were quickly raked from the embers, ground up, & dissolved in hot water, yielding the world's first cup of coffee.

And the story continues that miraculous tales of coffee & the magic beans themselves spread from Africa across the Red Sea to Arabia. It is true that in the Ethiopian highlands, where the legend of Kaldi, the goatherd, originated, coffee trees grow today, as they have for centuries.

For more early morning coffee tales, click here.