Who discovered coffee?

The most famous drink in the world is steeped in legend…

On observing red berries on a plant for the first time, what kind of mind is needed to taste them? What kind of instinct is required to boil those beans and what courage is needed to taste the extracted liquid, inhalethat unique aroma and call it ‘coffee’?

Coffee still captivates us today. Since Day One, the world’s favourite beveragehas stimulated the imagination of people and has become the subject of countless stories and legends. The two most famous ones are rooted in the mists of time, so who knows? It may have happened just like this…

Kaldi and the Dancing Goats

The first legend comes from Ethiopia, in the IX century. One day, a young shepherd named Kaldi noticed strange behaviors among his flock of goats. The animals were jumping and frolicking, driven by an energy Kaldi had never seen before. The sight was almost magical.

Kaldi began to search for whatever it was that caused his goats to act so strangely and one morning, he followed them into a clearing, where there was a plant he’d never seen before.

Creeping up on them, he saw that the flock was eat feeding on the bright red berries of the strange new plant. Intrigued, Kaldi decided to taste these new fruits for himself. At first, he was a little disappointed: the taste was bitter and unpalatable! Shortly afterwards, however, he felt full of energy and strength!

Kaldi gathered some of the berries so he could share this exciting discovery with his wife. Sure enough, she was affected in the same way and so Kaldi was sure:  these berries were indeed a gift from God.

Accordingly, he took some to the monks of a nearby monastery and although initially suspicious, they too confirmed their mysterious, energizing power.

The monks decided to experiment by cook both the berries and the leaves of this strange new plant. Unfortunately, they were disappointed: it tasted terrible, as if it were the work of the devil! They threw the whole preparation into the fire in a hurry and then, a miracle: the unmistakable aroma of coffee enveloped the room! All at once, the monks knew that coffee beans needed to be roasted… Soon, they were drinking coffee so that they could stay up all night to pray!

Omar the Dervish

The second legend takes place in Yemen, in the city of Mocha, where lived Omar the Dervish, a famous healer who cured people with a combination medicine and prayer.

His fame was such that it reached the King of Yemen and the Head of the Islam Authorities, neither of whom were best pleased by the reverence in which the people held him. They were determined to rid themselves of the threat inherent in this inter loper’s popularity, so they began a concerted campaign to rein him in, by discrediting him in public and slandering him. That’s how, having dedicated his life to serving other people, Omar found himself with many enemies. He was forced to leave the city and take refuge in the desert.

Alone, distraught and hungry, Omar the Dervish found shelter in a cave, where he saw a strange plant, garnished with shiny red berries. Sure that it was a sign that God had come to save him, he picked the fruits and ate them. The taste, alas, was terrible. He decided to roast them, but that didn’t work: the berries were still inedible.

As a last resort, he put them in water and drank the liquid and suddenly, he felt his body surge with strength and energy!

Despite his exile, Omar’s disciples sought him out, determined to continue to receive his prodigious ministrations and now, in addition to the usual treatments, Omar began to prescribe drinking the liquid that could be harvested from the extraordinary berries .

Soon,  rumors that Omar was alive and using a brand-new’ miraculous medicine’ spread to Mocha, where the people became convinced that his survival in the desert was a sign from Allah! The King, repentant, repatriated Omar and the religious authorities proclaimed him as a Saint.

The famous plant and the dark drink extracted from its fruits were then given a name that would endure through the centuries: Mocha.

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