It all begins in an Oromo village in Ethiopia. The story goes, a lone goatherd who went by the name of Kaldi would take his goats outside the village for their daily graze. One of those times turned out to be very special for Kaldi, when one of his goats began chewing on a peculiar red berry from a bush. The goat, as if lightning had struck him, began running around joyously, which was surprising to Kaldi as the goats were usually very lazy. Intrigued, he decided to eat the fruit himself. What followed next would change the course of breakfast history, as Kaldi realized what he’d stumbled upon and took the fruit to a nearby Sufi monk, hoping for some answers.
But the monk didn’t approve of this new discovery that Kaldi had made and threw the fruits into a burning flame. But suddenly, the aroma in the air changed and out popped some roasted coffee beans. To douse these, the monk put them in water, in which the seeds ended up dissolving. And that’s the story of the world’s first cup of coffee.
And that’s probably just a story with very little to do with the actual history of coffee. We know that coffee was first consumed in Arabia and the locals called it ‘qawah’. Coffee was smuggled out of the Middle East, surprisingly, by a Sufi saint called Baba Budan, who strapped some seeds onto his chest and travelled to India.
Baba Budan planted his seeds in modern day Karnataka, and the area is now called Baba Budan Giri, around which coffee plantations still exists. This new commodity was a hit in South India and the culture spread rapidly throughout the area, with the Mysore state being its largest consumer. It was from here that coffee was taken to various part of the world, especially under the British rule.
Fact : Sufi saints used to drink coffee to be able to stay up late for late night rituals and services!
The Dutch and the British East India Company took coffee all around the world, from Java and Indonesia to South America. Meanwhile in Europe, ‘Muslim drinks’ were being banned. But Pope Clement VIII loved coffee so much that he decided to make it a Christian drink! People loved coffee so much that even after tea came into the market, coffee still remained a cash crop. Talk about demand, huh?
So we started out in the Middle East, came to India and then went all around the world. In the process, coffee evolved to become Arabica, Rustica, etc. And we found different ways of making it as well! My personal favorite is the South Indian filter coffee. What’s your’s?