In The Beginning It Was Ethiopia- The Origin of Coffee

Many versions are surrounding the origin of coffee.  The most known version is of the odyssey of the goatherd named Kaldi, which goes like something like this:  Once upon a time in the land of Arabia, there lived a responsible and sober goatherd named Kaldi.  One night, Kaldi’s goats didn’t come home, and in the morning, he found them dancing with abandoned glee near a shiny, dark leafed shrub with red berries.  Kaldi immediately was convinced that it was the red berries on the glossy, dark leafed shrub that caused the goats’ strange behavior, and before you know it, Kaldi was dancing too.  He found that these berries gave him renewed energy. 

A local well-studied Imam, or Islamic leader, (the word Imam is Arabic which means ‘imām ‘leader,’ and ‘amma ‘lead the way.)’ Wikipedia defines an Imam as an Islamic leadership position most commonly used as the title of a worship leader of a mosque and Muslim community among Sunni Muslims.  From his way to prayer, the worn-out and sleepy Imam saw Kaldi and the goats dancing and the shiny, dark-leafed shrub with the red berries. 

The learned Imam subjected the redberries to various experimental examinations immediately, one of which involved parching and boiling.  Soon after, neither the Imam nor his fellows fell asleep at prayers.  The news of this energy laden fruit quickly spread from monastery to monastery throughout the region. Coffee berries were soon transported from Ethiopia to the Arabian Peninsula and were first cultivated in today’s country of Yemen. Coffee remained a secret in Arabia before spreading to Turkey and then to the European continent by means of Venetian trade merchants.

Though many have claimed that coffee originated in the southern tip of the Arabian Peninsula or modern-day Yemen, where Europeans first found it growing, coffee’s origins are rooted in central Ethiopia’s plateaus. There is botanical evidence to prove this statement. At thousands of feet above sea level, where till this day grows wild, shaded by the rainforest’s giant trees. 

How the berries Coffea Arabica moved across the Red Sea to Yemen? Can be explained by one, their proximity of the two regions and two, their sporadic relation that goes back thousands of years before Christ and three, let’s not forget Yemen was once ruled by Ethiopia.

Yes, you heard that right.  Ethiopia, ladies and gentlemen, was once the world’s biggest empires rivaling the Persians and the Greeks.  The Kingdom of Aksum (or Axum, also known as the Aksumite Empire) was a trading nation in northern Ethiopia and Eritrea that existed from approximately 100 to 940 CE. At its height, this empire extended across most present-day Eritrea, northern Ethiopia, western Yemen, southern Saudi Arabia, and Sudan. The capital city of the empire was Aksum, now in northern Ethiopia.

The Persian Prophet Mani regarded Axum as the third of the four most extraordinary powers after Rome and Persia, with China being the fourth.

Ethiopia is so ancient that you can find its name frequently mentioned in Scripture under Cush’s name, the various significations of which in the Old Testament have been mentioned under the article CUSH, which see. Ethiopia proper lay south of Egypt, on the Nile; and was bounded north by Egypt, at the catarats near Syene; east by the Red Sea, and perhaps a part of the Indian Ocean; south by unknown regions of the interior of Africa; and west by Libya and deserts.

Ethiopia is one of the jewels of the world and should be acknowledged.  This history is something that should be taught in schools throughout the US.  Every Black student should know that our history did not start with slavery.  Those of you who are followers of Christ will recognize this verse from Psalms. “Princes shall come out of Egypt; Ethiopia shall soon stretch out her hands unto God” (Psalms 68:3).   If that does not give you goosebumps, you may need to pray and fast a little more.

Hope you enjoyed this little history about this precious commodity and will keep writing series and more articles like this one blending coffee and Our-story.