Saturday, March 15, 2014

Dancing Goats and Origin of Coffee

Illustration of Kaldi and his goats
Coffee is a billion dollar industry. It is the number craving for working men and women, as well as students alike. The highest coffee consumption were led by the Baltic States and the Netherlands, whose citizens drink about 4 cups of coffee every day. According to the International Coffee Organization, the worldwide production of coffee in 2013 amounted over 145 million bags. The whole world love of coffee could be credited to some goats and an Ethiopian goat herder.

The story of this black gold could be traced from the heart of the Horn of Africa. During the 3rd century CE, in an Ethiopian province of Kaffa, goat herding was a livelihood for some. It was what helps some men during back then to feed their families. It was an easy job, as long as he keeps all of his goats. Among of these goat herders is a married and a poetic man. His name was Kaldi. Kaldi took the job of goat herding easily. He allowed his goats to roam freely on the nearby forest during daylight. While his goes wander, he could take the time to compose poetry and music. As the afternoon arrives and the sun began to set, he takes his handy flute and begins to make notes with it. When the music from Kaldi's flute transcends the forest, his goats goes back to him, they return home, and he goes back to his wife, eats dinner, and takes a sleep after the day.

He did this routine day after day after day, until one time, when he sounded his flute and played his melody, the goats failed to return to him. Anxiously wondering of the disappearance of his goats, afraid of his loss of income, he decides to go into the forest and investigate. After sometime of trekking and moving across grasses, shrubs, trees, vines, and other animals, he finally sees his goats. What stumble upon him gives even more questions. His goats suddenly appear very hyperactive. Some were running around, some were hitting other goats, some are just moving without direction. They were just moving with so much energy in their bodies. The mystified Kaldi then observes his goats. Upon looking to them, he found out that the goats act this weird after they eat some small berries from a tree with glowing leaves.

The moment was similar to Adam and Eve seeing the tree of knowledge. Curiosity hits Kaldi. He wants to feel what his goats feel. Thus, he took some of the small red berries of the tree. After picking them, he puts it into his mouth and tastes it. The berries taste somewhat sweet. Afterwards he swallows it. Suddenly, a huge energy enter upon his own body. He suddenly feels energize. He is buzz. He wants to do what the goats do: jump, run, dance, etc. Amazed by what he feels, he took some of the berries and his goats back home.

As he comes home, he shows the berries to his wife and let her taste some. As his wife tastes the berries and swallows it, she too feels the same way as her husband: newly energized, never felt tired, highly buzzed. A day after their discovery of the berry, she shares the berries to a monk in a nearby monastery.

The monk in the monastery tries the berries as well. The monk feels alive and awake. Luckily for him, he finds it easier to stay up the whole night for his religious services. Sometime later, the monk thinks of ways to serve the berries better. He found a way by putting berries into the boiling water. The result is the first cup of coffee.

Eventually, the berry and the technique of boiling it spreads across the Ethiopia. Later on, its exploits cross across the straits of Eden towards the Arabians. Travelers who came to Kaffa names the drink after the province, thus giving the name Coffee.

From the berries that frightened Kaldi, coffee spread its wings across the world. It gives livelihood to many farmers, and became an engine of growth to many economics.

See also:

The Adventure of Gabriel de Clieu
Arabs Love Affair of Coffee
Economy of Pedro II's Empire
How a Pope Spread Coffee to the World?
Louis XIV and Coffee
Ottoman Coffee: Love and Hate

Antol, M. Confessions of a Coffee Bean: A Complete Guide to Coffee Cuisine. New York: Square One Publishers, 2002. 

Pendergast, M. Uncommon Grounds: The History of Coffee and How it Transformed the World. Philadelphia: Basic Books, 2010. 

"International Coffee Organization,

Exporting Countries: Total Production." 
Accessed March 15, 2014.

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