1. How Coffee Was Discovered
There are several accounts of how coffee was discovered, but there must have been a time when man originally tested the fruit of the coffee bush for food or drink. It is possible that the first beans were roasted in a fire, by accident. Nevertheless, there is no real evidence to show exactly when or how coffee was first discovered. One legend is that of an exiled Arabian Sheik, who saved himself from starvation while in the wilderness, by making soup from the berries of the coffee shrub. A more complete story though, is about Kaldi, the goat keeper, who lived in the third century, in Ethiopia. He noticed that his goats behaved very strangely if they ate red berries from the coffee bush. Even the old goats would leap about like young kids. When Kaldi told his story to the Abbot of a nearby monastery, the Abbot decided to test the berries for himself. He poured boiling water onto the berries to make a drink, which he found helped him to stay awake. He and other monks drank this liquid each night, and they no longer felt sleepy during their long hours of prayer. The legend continues and tells how news of the discovery spread rapidly, creating a demand for the drink. There is evidence however, that coffee was definitely grown in Islamic monastery gardens of Yemen, about 1,000 years ago.
2. Early Coffee Drinkers
The first commercial cultivation of coffee was reported in Yemen, a district of Arabia in the fifteenth century. The Arabs jealously guarded their precious beans and would not allow them out of the country, unless they had been dried or cooked in boiling water to kill the seed-germ. However, eventually some seed beans or cuttings were smuggled out of the country by pilgrims on their annual travel to Mecca. By the middle of the 16th century, coffee drinking had spread to Egypt, Syria and Turkey. Here is became known as the “Wine of Arabia”. This was because Muslims, who were forbidden to drink wine, used coffee with it’s special powers of stimulation as a substitute.