The history of coffee and its spread to the rest of the world is anchored in Ethiopia and Yemen. The Ethiopian myth states that coffee owes its origin from the Ethiopian plateau through a certain herder known as Kaldi. While grazing, Kaldi realized that his goats were surprisingly happy, sleepless at night, and energetic upon eating fruits from a particular tree.
On noticing this anomaly, Kaldi reported the fantastic story to the monk from the monastery, which was neighboring the plateau. The monk despised him and threw the berries into the fire. A sweet aroma from the burnt beans prompted other monks at the monastery to make a drink from the seeds.
The monks liked it for its energizing effects and keeping them awake during prayers. The herder’s narrative was oral, and a written version of the tale appeared seven hundred years later which makes it more of a myth or legend.
More about the history of coffee
Yemen’s coffee origin myths
One of the Yemen myths states that a Yemenite known as Nooruddin Abu Al-Hasan came across some energized birds that had consumed berries from a coffee plant while on his spiritual travel in Ethiopia. The Yemenite also decided to take some beans on realizing how exhausted he was and how the birds became energetic. Nooruddin Abu Al-Hasan took the coffee plant berries and felt energized as well.
The second myth of the origin of coffee revolves around Sheikh Omar, a priest-doctor exiled to a cave in a desert close to Ousab mountain. Sheikh’s exile resulted from healing a princess on behalf of his master and partying with her. The other reason for his expulsion could have been due to some moral transgression.
Omar got hungry and thirsty during his exile and decided to eat some coffee berries that a bird had brought him but found them very bitter. Omar roasted the coffee fruits to remove the bitterness, but they became so hard to chew.
On realizing how hard the coffee seeds were, Sheikh Omar decided to soften the seeds by boiling them, and he could not stop drinking the seeds soup due to the aroma that they produced.
The drink became popular in Mocha, the hometown of Omar. The growth in coffee popularity led to the lifting of his exile and constructing a monastery in his honor.
Introduction of coffee in the United States of America
Captain John Smith, who also happens to be the founding father of the colony known as Virginia, introduced coffee to Jamestown settlers in the year 1607.
The beverage, however, encountered competition from other drinks like tea, ale, and cider and did not gain immense popularity at once. Coffee culture continued with its low popularity among Americans until the year 1670 when Dorothy Jones got a coffee selling license in Boston.
Tea continued leading the pack as the preferred beverage with coffee coming way behind. In the year 1773, Boston tea party colonists dumped a tea shipment in protest of its high taxation, which hurt the image of tea. Coffee overtook tea in the process and became more popular following the demonstration.
America’s President was a great importer of coffee in the eighteen twenties while his wife, known as Martha, became a coffee brewer. During the civil war in the eighteen sixties, coffee was a morale booster among soldiers.
Introduction of coffee farming in America.
Coffee plants only made inroads in America after conquering most European and African countries. In the year 1714, French King, known as Louis XIV, had a gift of some coffee seedlings from the Mayor of Amsterdam, which were preserved in unique greenhouses because the Dutch could not grow coffee.
Later the coffee plant found its way from the royal gardens of Paris to Martinique through a French captain Gabriel Mathieu who resided in Martinique.
It is not clear whether King Louis gave out the seedlings or the captain stole them from the Botanical yard in Paris. Captain Gabriel had a long and delicate voyage with the seedlings and faced scarcity of water during his trip to the extent of watering the coffee using his water.
On arrival, Captain Gabriel Planted the coffee seedlings among other plants, and within three years, plantations had emerged out of the seedlings. The coffee plantations spread to the central, south America, and the entire Caribbean island.