The history of coffee began with a goat herder named Kaldi.
As legend has it, around 850 AD, Kaldi – a herder in what is today southwestern Ethiopia – noticed that his goats were strangely energetic. Upon further investigation, he realized they were eating berries from a bush and decided to try one himself. Filled with a sudden boost in energy, Kaldi told local monks about the berry’s unique properties.
Word spread between different monasteries about the berry, which monks began consuming to energize them during prayer. Traders soon brought the berry to what is today Somalia, from which they were then transported to modern-day Yemen. Within years, pilgrims in Mecca – Islam’s holiest site – were consuming drinks made of the berry.
Not all Islamic scholars approved of it, and several branded it haram, or forbidden. Despite that, cultivation of the berry quickly spread across the Arabian Peninsula, leading to the creation of a new institution, the “coffeehouse.” Coffeehouses became places for socialization, debate, and, of course, coffee consumption.
The word “coffee” originates from the Yemeni word “qahwah,” which loosely translates to wine. Turks later transliterated that to “kahveh,” which the Dutch translated to “Koffie” and the English to “coffee.”
By the 16th century, coffeehouses were spreading throughout Europe despite initial pushback from priests who labeled it the “bitter invention of Satan.” Asked to intervene, Pope Clement VIII tried the drink, enjoyed it, and permitted its consumption.
Today, coffee is the world’s second most valuable legally-traded commodity, behind oil. Brazil is the world’s largest producer of the bean, followed by Vietnam, Colombia, and Indonesia. Finland is the world’s largest per capita coffee consumer, followed by Iceland, Norway, Iceland, and Denmark.
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