Culinary History,  Drinks,  Food History,  History,  Plants

Cultivation and Legend

Like with any well loved food or recipe that has been around for a long time, legends and stories grow with it. Coffee is most certainly not any different! Its history is full of curious and interesting facts.

The Coffee Bearer – A painting by John Fredrick Lewis

Though coffee was believed to be first cultivated in Ethiopia, no one really knows where coffee was first discovered by man. One legend from the Middle Ages is told about the goat or sheep herder named Kaldi. Kaldi was puzzled by the wild antics of his goats after they ate some of the ripe berries from the coffee tree. Sampling them himself, he was surprised at the energy they gave him! He gave some to a monk who tried the berries himself. He found that they helped him stay awake for the evening prayers!

Coffee spread across the Arabian peninsula from there and was widely cultivated. Used mainly as a stimulating drink for religious purposes (long prayer services!), coffee eventually became an important trade good. The first coffee shops sprung up in Arabia as the drink became more and more popular. As the Ottoman Empire spread, so did the drinking of coffee.

There is still a culture and certain method around drinking coffee in the Arab world. Very much like the special rules and traditions that guard the use of tea and the tea ceremony in China, Turkish coffee is a perfect example. Often brewed outdoors over a fire in a special pot, it is incredibly strong.

Today, coffee is grown all over the world where the climate is right. From Hawaii to Guatemala, from Columbia to Indonesia and Brazil, coffee plantations are still very important to international trade. 

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