A Worldly Beginning - The Origin of Coffee

The most widely accredited legend about the origin of coffee revolves around a mysterious plant in the Ethiopian highlands that was discovered by a flock of goats. A shepherd noticed that certain shrubs strangely made his goats restless. He reported his interesting findings to the local abbot, who then tested the plant on his monks by roasting the seeds of the berries into a dark, black beverage that restored vigor. The drink proved to be very useful during the monks’ nocturnal prayer vigils. Today, all coffee from around the globe can trace its origin back to Ethiopia, so coffee drinkers around the world can thank this lucky flock of goats for its great discovery. 

Coffee’s next step in history was on the Arabian Peninsula where the natives first began to cultivate and trade the bean. They were credited for creating the first coffee drink by boiling the grounds of roasted, milled coffee beans.  

Alongside the Arabian expansion, coffee made its way into the Islamic world. Its immense popularity among the Islamic population was largely because of the Koran’s religious principle of forbidding alcoholic beverages. Coffee was used as a substitute for wine and beer, and it was even used in certain religious ceremonies.

Baba Budan is credited for bringing coffee to the East. He brought fertile coffee beans back to his home in Southwestern India after his 17th century pilgrimage to Mecca. After this introduction into India, traders from Germany, France, Italy and especially the Netherlands were vying to introduce coffee to their overseas colonies. In 1616, the Dutch won the coffee race when a coffee plant was taken to the Netherlands. By 1658, the Dutch had started the serious cultivation of coffee in Ceylon.

Coffee’s introduction into Europe was met with immense negativity. When coffee made its way to Venice, Italy, the local clergy shunned the drink, and the controversy became so intense that Pope Clement VIII intervened. After tasting the beverage, the Pope enjoyed it so much, he gave coffee Papal approval – opening up the doors for all to enjoy and savor this delicious drink.