The Story of Kaldi
The coffee plant is native to modern-day Ethiopia, but who discovered the plan is harder to pin down. One popular legend involves a curious goat herder named Kaldi. Kaldi enjoy following the trails his goats made in the mountains. One afternoon, when Kaldi went to call his goats, they would not come. He began walking down the trails, looking for his goats. He finally found them higher up in the mountain rainforest. They were in a hyperactive state, running around, butting each other, and calling out. Upon closer obserservation, he noticed the goats eating the leaves and cherries of a particular tree. Putting it all together, he surmised that the forage from these trees had put his goats in this frenzied state. It took hours to coral his goats and get them back home.
The next day, the goats returned to the same area and began eating the trees’ leaves and cherries. After a while, Kaldi decide to try the leaves. Chewing them, he found them bitter and felt a tingle build in his mouth which moved to his stomach and eventually to the rest of his body. Next, Kaldi tried the cherries, first chewing on the sweet fruit then the seeds themselves. Before long, he was put into the caffeinated state that all of us coffee drinkers recognize. He returned home and told his family about the trees. The word spread in his through his village and to the rest of Ethiopia.
Ethiopians started making drinks of the leaves and cherries, first steeping them in boiled water to make tea. They fermented the pulp to make wine. The tree was domesticated in Ethiopia and its products became a staple in Ethiopian agriculture. It wasn’t until the 15th century that the seeds were roasted, ground, and used to make the first cup of coffee.
The next time you’re enjoying a great cup of Spirit Mountain Coffee, remember to take a moment to acknowledge Kaldi and his goats’ contribution to your experience.
For this and other stories and information on all things coffee, buy or borrow from your library Mark Pendergast’s Uncommon Grounds: The History of Coffee and How It Transformed Our World.
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