Both the Arabica and Robusta varieties of coffee have their origins in Ethiopia. It has been recorded as being discovered in the 9 th Century.
A young Ethiopian goat herder, Kaldi, discovered his goats would become rambunctious after eating the bright red berries and leaves of a previously ignored plant. That plant turned out to be the coffee plant.
Upon observing increased activity and unusual behaviour in his goats, Kaldi tried eating some of the plant's berries, and found it gave him extra energy and a feeling of happiness.
Kaldi continued to eat the berries, gaining a reputation as the Happiest Herder in Arabia.
After some time, a visiting monk noticed this strange phenomenon and after Kaldi’s explanation he tried the berries. The monk was keen to see if this formula worked as was having ongoing problems with keeping his monks awake and attentive during the evening prayers. He went one step further by drying and steeping the seeds of the berries into a pleasant drink which he shared with his fellow monks, resulting in a much more energetic and attentive evening prayer session.
Some people in the early days would crush the berries and mix them with animal fat into rudimentary "protein bars".The best results were continually drawn from drying and steeping the berries which is considered the first coffee processing.
The secret energy and mood enhancing formula was shared and popularity of the ‘magical’ red berry naturally grew, eventually making its way around the globe.
From Ethiopia, coffee culture crossed the Red Sea and became one of life’s everyday pleasures in Yemen and Saudi Arabia. Over the centuries, its aroma spread west until it was caught in the trade winds of European colonial ambitions. The Dutch began plantations in Java in Indonesia. The Spanish and French did likewise in their global colonies. The rest is history and coffee has conquered the world!
After cultivation of the coffee plants to extract the berries and beans as an energy boosting remedy, it was noticed that pickers had hands that aged considerably less than their bodies and it was thought the berries, or a juice from the berries, caused this.
It is now recognised that the coffee contains a powerful antioxidant which has been used in a variety of skin care and supplement forms. These antioxidants are what give the coffee berry its red colour (and the red berry is often called a Rosso Cherry) and what naturally protects the berry from higher amounts of radiation existing in the higher elevations (mountains) where coffee is grown. These antioxidants work to protect the body’s cells and molecules from internal and external free radicals.
Ethiopia today relies on coffee production for around 60% of its foreign income and provides around 3% of the world coffee market as the worlds 7 th largest producer. Its historical geographical suitability (called the Origin, similar to the Terroir in wine growing) has been changing over time with a decrease in rainfall and an increase in temperature of around 0.3 degrees per decade. In order to maintain its most important agricultural commodity, Ethiopia is striving to create a Climate Resistant Coffee Economy. Read more about Ethiopia’s current coffee growing situation here....
You can support Ethiopian grown coffee by choosing one of Kimberley Coffee Company’s Organic Ethiopian Single Origin, or try the award winning Mintaka Fairtrade Organic blend).