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A Berry Tale – Drink Day with Elizabetta Tekeste

By mahir | October 12, 2010

Hello everyone, I hope you enjoyed the series on tea as much as I did.  We’re now moving into coffee. I won’t commit to a 4 part series here because this series can go indefinitely!

I am from a small country in the Horn of Africa called Eritrea. Less than 20 years ago it was part of Ethiopia. And it is from this part of the world that coffee was discovered and dispersed throughout the world. So this beverage is dear to my heart and heritage!

The myth goes:

A goat herder by the name of Kaldi discovered the energizing effect of the coffee plant in the hills of Ethiopia when one day his goats began chewing on the red berries and then became ‘jumping goats’.

He took the beans to a holy man who disapproved of the beans and threw them into a fire. The beans let out an aroma the goat herder could not resist. He collected the roasted beans from the embers, ground them up and added them to hot water.

The world had its first cup of coffee!

The story goes:

The indigenous coffee trees (which are the only native coffee beans in the world) were discovered in the (1)Kaffa region of Ethiopia in the 10th century. The trees themselves are called Kafa and were identified by a nomadic Ethiopian tribe called Oromo. This tribe however didn’t consume the berries as a beverage; instead they ground the berries with animal fat making small balls of food for energy during travel. The use of the beans was varied from tribe to tribe, from porridge to wine to medicine, each tribe utilizing a different method for extracting energy from the berries. By the end of the 15th century ‘coffee houses’ emerged on trade routes between Ethiopia and the rest of Africa and eventually the Middle East and Europe.

Once it reached Europe its popularity reached new heights and Europe, especially Italy had great influence on coffee culture. Today it is consumed more than any other beverage in the world.  In America, British imposed taxes on tea and the infamous Boston Tea Party solidified coffee as the beverage of choice. And with the current trend of micro-roasteries popping up throughout America this bean is only becoming more popular!

In the coming weeks I will be exploring the differences in coffee production and consumption around the world. We’ll get into everything from bean varietals and soil to superstitions and traditions. By the time we’re done all of us will be coffee sommeliers!

Next week I will begin with the Ethiopian Coffee Ceremony.  If you have images pertaining to your experience with the Ethiopian Coffee Ceremony you’d like to submit please do so by Monday, 18th October 9:00AM EDT. I’ll post the best images on my blog for Wednesday, 20th October.

Email images to:

coffee@samuelssongroup.com

[1] It is believed the name “coffee” is a progression of the name of the province in which the bean was originally discovered- Kaffa. The Arabs called it qahhwat al-bun, which later transformed to Kaveh. And of course the Italians introduced it to the world as “caffe”. Sometimes the history is all in the name!

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