Recently scientists, via the extensive endeavor known as The Human Genome Project, came to the conclusion that all people could trace their genetic origins to the Eastern corner of Africa. Ethiopia to be exact. This discovery sent a wave of excitement up the spines of people everywhere as it became apparent again that we are all from the same family-tree, all of us distant cousins to one another. The shiver of wonder went even further up the backs of coffee enthusiasts far and wide as we realized that coffee and humans could both trace roots back to Ethiopia. It’s as if coffee and humans were made for each other. Destiny.
In a quausi-religious revelation I concluded that no doubt, the garden of Eden must’ve been located in Ethiopia, and it must have been packed full of lovely, blossoming coffee shrubs. Sounds heavenly to me.
Though the story of coffee’s discovery is only partially religious, it is nothing short of legendary. Story has it that a goat herder named Kaldi was moving his flock through Southern Arabia and noticed that his goats were plucking the bright red cherries from a six foot unattended local shrub. After munching the fruit the goats began acting strange; they started dancing with delight and increasing in prolonged and undeniably giddy energy. The legend continues with Kaldi eating the fruit and finding the energetic properties of caffeine to be both invigorating and beneficial in helping him get through his workday.
The absolute truth about coffee’s origins is probably a little different though; according to further research, this story of the dancing goats is only (at most) a half-truth. Coffee was as I mentioned earlier, first cultivated in the Central plains of Ethiopia and then some time later was moved to Yemen. Kaldi’s discovery would thus have been more like Christopher Columbus’ discovery of the New World. There was already some decent history behind the fruit before Kaldi found it for himself.
The next stage in coffee history is undeniably religious though as the diaspora period that separated man from his destined drink ended with Sufi monks discovering that the beans could be roasted and brewed into a liquid that helped them energetically accomplish religious practices. The drink proved so good, it put a little extra Whirl in their Dervish. Shortly afterward it was declared by the 1600’s Pope Clement VIII to be nothing short of a gift from God and something to be consumed with clear conscience by Judeo-Christians and Gentiles alike, the drink increased in popularity throughout Rome and Italy and was soon a commodity throughout the world. Today it is in demand second only to oil.
No matter how you view the origins of man, whether religious or irreligious it is undeniable that the two of us go way way back. Our history together is both funny and romantic and might even be a match made in heaven. I think so at least.