The Introduction of Coffee Beans

The Introduction Of Coffee Beans

When coffee beans were first introduced to us it was not in the form of a beverage at all.  Coffee beans were a goat fodder.  The legend says that more than a thousand years ago, a young goat herder came upon his flock that were gathered around a bush and feeding upon its bright red berries.  Kaldi the goat herder decided to try some berries himself.  A monk passing by was interested in what he saw and took some of the berries home.  When he mixed them with water and drank the fragrant liquid, he found that he could pray all night with remarkable clarity.  The word soon spread throughout monasteries in Arabia. 

Historians trace coffee origins to Ethiopia.  Coffee grows wild in the rain forest in Ethiopia.  Warriors going off to battle would wrap beans in animal fat and take them along  to help fight fatigue.  The Ethiopians who conquered and ruled Yemen introduced the bean to the Arab world.  The medicinal qualities were prized.  Doctors prescribed it as an aid to feeling good.  They considered coffee to be healthy.  Scholars and artists could work all night while chewing on the berries.

It was around the sixteenth century that the principle of  roasting beans and adding them to boiling water to make a beverage was established in Arabia.  The preparation of coffee soon became a secular ceremony.  The coffeehouse was established in Mecca for those who liked to sip, talk and listen to music.  Wine was forbidden to Moslem’s so coffee became central to a man’s day.  One of the few grounds on which a woman could divorce was a man’s refusal to provide her with coffee.

The introduction of coffee to Europe is not well documented.  Venetian traders who traversed the world would have encountered the Arabs coffee, which was part of any merchants bargaining ritual.The Venetians were the first to roast their coffee beans.  When Venetians began to brew their own around 1615, some feared its allure and called it the “bitter invention of Satan.”  Pope Clement VIII tried a cup and gave it his blessing before the beverage was generally accepted  Once again it was thought so potent that its medicinal benefits were celebrated before it became the sociable drink it is today.

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