Behind the Beans

Did a goat discover coffee?

By Emily Braybrooke

Photo by Terry Hummer. Taken from Flickr.

For many people around the world, coffee is a drink that is a part of everyday life.

You may be the business type who swings by a coffee shop on the way to work to pick up the regular order of a flat white. Or you may be a student who is currently relying on the caffeine and sugar of a vanilla latte to see you through yet another late night study session.

No matter what kind of coffee drinker you are, you may not have heard of the rather odd coffee legend of how caffeine was first discovered.

Most historians agree that the power of the coffee bean was first realised in Ethiopia.

There is one story that the Galla Tribe in Ethiopia noticed an energy boost when eating coffee berries, which they mashed together with animal fats (sounds delicious, right?).

While this tale sounds rather feasible, the other is slightly more interesting.

It is said that there was a goat herder called Kaldi. Kaldi lived in the countryside of the Kaffa region of southwestern Ethiopia.

One day Kaldi apparently noticed that one of his goats became very energised after eating some red berries (coffee berries) so he decided to try some himself. Kaldi then noted that they had the same stimulating affect on him.

Image credit: Cheezburger Taken from GIPHY

Kaldi supposedly shared his findings with local monks who created a drink from the berries in order to be able to pray for longer periods of time.
The monks shared their knowledge of the berries’ amazing effects to other monasteries and this is where the use of coffee for its energising effects began.

While there is no real evidence that Kaldi’s goat story is true, we do know that Ethiopia is the home of coffee and that its benefits were passed to others by word-of-mouth, so it is possible that the tale is true.

What do you think of this coffee legend? Do you believe that the traditional tale that has been passed down for years or do you think that a goat getting a caffeine kick is a bit too far fetched?



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