has it that coffee was discovered by a goat herder named Kaldi in
the high plateaus of Ethiopia. While his herd was feeding in a new
location, Kaldi observed his goats nibbling on bright red berries.
He sat and watched in amazement as the goats began to dance with glee.
Kaldi gathered some of the berries and ate them and was suddenly filled
with energy and alertness. Exited about his find, he took some cherries
to a local monastery where a monk named Bilal listened to Kaldi's
story. Bilal proclaimed the cherries evil and threw them in the fire
to cleanse them. The beans began to roast and the aroma enticed the
two to rake the beans from the burning embers. Bilal, placed the beans
in a cup of water to cool the beans, as they were very hot. The two
then crushed the beans in the water to dilute the taste and sipped
the water. The two drank the first cup of coffee. Today, coffee continues
to grow wild in Ethiopia.
Through trade, dating back as far as 800 B.C. and perhaps during
the Ethiopian occupation of Yemen in the early sixth century, coffee
found its way across the Red Sea to be cultivated on the Arabian
Initially, coffee was used as a medicine and as a beverage associated
with religious ceremonies. From the holy cities of Mecca and Medina
at the center of the Islamic world, the use of coffee spread to
Egypt, Persia, and Syria. During periods of Muslim expansion between
the eleventh and sixteenth centuries, coffee appeared in Turkey,
the Balkan states, Spain, and North Africa. Turkish bridegrooms
were required to promise coffee for their wives-to-be; failure to
provide this necessity of life could have resulted in divorce.
By the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, this delightful and
compelling beverage--this drink of Islam--was enjoyed at coffee
houses throughout the Middle East and in southern Europe. An institution
had been born.
Despite efforts by early producers to control their wonderful commodity,
coffee was smuggled to India. From there, the Dutch began cultivating
Coffea arabica in Java on the Indonesian archipelago. And,
in the eighteenth century, the French were transporting coffee trees
to the Caribbean.
Today, coffee is grown on plantations and estates throughout the
tropical regions of the world, and it is enjoyed as a beverage by
coffee lovers worldwide. Few beverages offer such a universal appeal