Kaldi: The Ethiopian Legend Who Discovered Coffee

Ethiopia is widely considered the birthplace of coffee, with many experts saying that Ethiopia was the only place that coffee grew natively.

But how did the properties of the red cherries become the popular household drink we know and love today?

For that, we have to turn to the story Kaldi. As the legend goes, Kaldi was an Ethiopian Sufi goatherd, who spent his days on the mountain slopes with his goats.

One day, he noticed that the goats were nibbling on the bright red cherries of a nearby bush, and soon became quite energetic.

Curious, Kaldi tried some of the cherries himself, and found he couldn’t fall asleep that night.

Excited by his find, he went back the next day and picked some of the fruit to take to an Islamic monk in a nearby Sufi monastery (zawiyah), but the Sufi monk disapproved of their use and threw them into a fire.

However, as the flesh burnt away from the fruit, and the heart of the fruit began to roast, the most amazing aroma rose from the fire.

The roasted beans were quickly raked from the fire and crushed to put out the embers. Still smoldering, the monks placed them into a jug and covered with water.

Later the monks drank the brew and it helped them keep awake during nightly devotions.

While this story is fun, in all actuality, it was likely that the people of the nomadic Galla tribe first discovered the coffee plant and its invigorating properties.