The History of a Cup of Coffee Begins with Dancing Goats


         According to legend, coffee was discovered in the ninth century by an Ethopian shepard named Kaldi. He noticed that goats who grazed on wild coffee berries had great bursts of energy and appeared to be dancing. Then Arabians made coffee popular and were the first to roast the beans. They called coffee “the wine of the bean.” The word coffee probably comes from the name Kaffa, the province in Ethiopia where it was grown.

Arabs tried to keep the coffee business for themselves. They exported boiled coffee beans, but never allowed coffee plants or fertile beans to be exported. Around the middle 1600s, Baba Budan, a holy man from India, traveled to Mecca on a pilgrimage, where he first enjoyed coffee. He smuggled out seven coffee beans wrapped around his stomach, and planted them successfully in India.

Coffea Arabica Plant
and Coffee Berries

When the Dutch traders sailed to India in the 17th century, they brought coffee back to Europe. There it was marketed as a cure for headaches, consumption, dropsy, grout and scurvy. Monks also ate the beans whole to stay awake during their prayers.

In other countries, coffee was available only by prescription from an apothecary. In Italy, a cup of coffee was known as the Devil’s Cup, until Pope Benedict VII baptized coffee beans, so that coffee could be enjoyed without guilt. Johann Sebastian Bach wrote the Coffee Cantata in honor of his favorite beverage.

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