The place to get a “scoop” of coffee history!
Different countries may have a varying and more favorful to their own discovery, as with any history book every published. However, the considerably more consistent story, and the one most commonly written is similar to the one following. The place is Ethiopia and the time is sometime before the 10th century. The discovery was made not by a person, but rather by a herd of goats.
A goat herder was trying to gather his herd without much success. In tracking down a portion of the herd, he found them romping in a playful frenzy. While observing them, he realized they were nibbling on berries which hung from a bush that he had not seen before that day. Soon thereafter, he had a similar occurrence when his herd was not responding to his call. After reaching the conclusion that his goats were not harmed but the small berry, he decided to try the small fruit himself. He was soon feeling the same excitement he had seen in his goats and began frolicking with them. And as they say, the rest is history.
From there much experimenting took place from crushing the leaves and berries together along with animal fat to create a snack to soaking them in water to drink the magical powers of this mysterious berry. Eventually, estimated between the 13th and 16th centuries, a combination of the two became the method of how we drink coffee today – grinding the dried berries and soaking the grinds into hot water to create a drinkable empowerment.
This created many bans and in some instances, the shutting down of coffeehouses…
During this time, the knowledge of these dried berries spread as traders and travelers carried it with them. This is where things get a bit fuzzy as far as where many of the terms come from. One account is taken from travels reaching the ancient city of al-Makkha where the term “mocha” came from, of the Arabic word for wine, “qah-wah” which some say was later evolved into the word “coffee”. Stories of Muslim holy men drinking coffee to stay awake for midnight prayers amidst a prayerful intoxication.
But then, many of the history details come back to the Ottoman Empire conquering Yemen as it expanded into Africa, the Middle East, and Europe. With them coffee was spread throughout. However, as the Ottoman Empire attempted to take Vienna, they were unsuccessful. The retreating troops left behind bags or coffee beans they carried with them for endless energy. Hence, a Viennese coffeehouse was born.
Again, as the coffee spread over parts of Europe recollections appear to vary quite a bit. The most noteworthy account though, are numerous bans that were placed on the wonder. It was believed at several points throughout its history to be the fruit of corruption. Leaders would believe that people gathering and discussing politics in the wee hours could only develop strategies to overthrow and inevitably revolution would erupt. This created many bans and in some instances, the shutting down of coffee houses, and disbursement of street gatherings.
Coffee has since become a household item, no longer reserved for aristocrats and revolutionaries. So drink away and dance with your goats and know you hold in your cup a drink with as much controversy as it does history.
Be a part of history, drink coffee!