Facts on the History of Coffee

Even as coffee continues to spread widely across the globe, its origin is often traced back to Ethiopia. In the 16th century, it was a famous attention and concentration booster in the Middle East. London witnessed a social revolution led by women, and coffee was the leading cause.

Goats and Coffee

An ancient tale talks of how coffee was discovered by a lonely goat herder in Ethiopia, around the ninth century, when he noticed some excitement in his goats after eating the berries. He confided his discovery to the abbot of a local monastery who came up with the idea of making a beverage out of the beans when dried. The monks in the area started to realize that the drink kept them awake as they prayed for long hours, and so they spread the word. Soon the popularity of the beverage grew across the peninsula.

Ghothul Akbar Nooruddin also claimed to have discovered the berry during his visits in Ethiopia. He first noticed the berries from several birds that fed on them and upon trying some, he noted the unusual nice effect it created.

Coffee and Islam

Though there have been many studies performed on the beverage, there isn’t much clarity on which part of Africa could be attributed to its origin. With time, coffee became a celebrated drink among Muslims. It was highly associated with Muhammad’s birthday as the Muslims believed he brought them the drink through archangel Gabriel to replace the forbidden wine.

Some scholars trace the knowledge and drinking of coffee to the 15th century. Safi Imam Muhammad Ibn Said Al Dhabhani used to import goods from Ethiopia to Yemen. Haines, a colonial administrator, imported some of the coffee from Berbera based merchants. Later, the British captured and controlled Aden around the 19th century and so controlled the coffee trade as well.

As of the 16th century, coffee was a popular choice in Egypt, Turkey, Persia and Syria. As pilgrims visited Mecca for religious reasons, they interacted with the ‘wine of Araby’ and soon spread it all over the world, especially during Muslim ceremonies. Surprisingly, coffee was also considered a forbidden drink by the zealots of different religions due to its alcohol-like effect. In 1511, scholars and jurists met in Mecca with an attempt to ban coffee drinking. Some early communities even named it ‘the devil’s cup.