The Coffee Legends of Kaldi & Omar the Dervish
Coffee evolution started as coffee legends. Among the stories created on coffee discovery the most known are the Ethiopian legend of Kaldi and the Arabian version of Omar the Dervish. Myths or short stories were created throughout the history of the humanity in order to explain in simple words some events that people could not understand easily. The coffee legends are a part of our coffee education view.
The first of the coffee legends is also known as the legend of Kaldi and the dancing goats. It’s the most known between the two coffee legends. There have been a lot of debates though about how truth this legend might be with goats & coffee. The only thing that is agreed upon is the fact that coffee was consumed by Ethiopians in the 9th century.
The second of the coffee legends is more religious oriented than the first one. Some believe that there are a lot of true events in the story and shouldn’t be seen as pure legend. Nevertheless, coffee history includes both of them as the beginning era of coffee expansion to the world.
COFFEE LEGENDS – Version I – THE LEGEND OF KALDI
A young Abyssinian (Ethiopian today) shepherd named Kaldi noticed one day that his goats behaved very strangely (jumping & playful mood) after consuming the bright red berries from a certain bush. In order to cure his curiosity about this phenomenon he decided to try these fruits. He found their taste to be bitter but after a while he felt himself staying alert and full of energy.
He picked some fruits and when he returned home he gave them to his wife. She also reported the same effects on her so they thought that it was a gift from God.
After a few days, Kaldi took some of the fruits and leaves of the bush to a nearby monastery and told his experience to the monks. One of them decided to follow him to confirm the incident. After observing that everything Kaldi told him was true, he returned to the monastery and convinced the other monks to cook the fruits and the leaves.
The outcome though was terrible so they threw the remains into the fire, thinking that it was a devil’s work. All of a sudden, a splendid aroma began to come out of the fire. A new idea stroked them at once; roasting and boiling the grains to create a flavorful beverage. After consuming the new drink they found themselves in a mood to stay asleep for long hours. They finally used this beverage as a stimulant in order to stay awake longer to pray all night.
Hence the discovery of coffee was occurred and the first type of coffee drink was born! The first of the coffee legends was on its way around the world to inform people of the coffee discovery.
COFFEE LEGENDS – Version II – THE LEGEND OF OMAR THE DERVISH
Omar was a well-known therapist in the city of Mocha in Yemen. His abilities to cure people were including not only the use of traditional medicines but also prayers to Allah. His special powers annoyed the Ruler of the country as well as the Head of the Islam Authorities. They spread evil words about him to the public. He soon faced with a lot of enemies who forced him to leave the city for good and go to the desert outside of the port of Mocha.
He found shelter in a cave but he was starving to death. One day he saw a small bush full of red berries. Omar thought that this plant was a sign of God to save him. He picked some of the fruits but when he ate them discovered that they were very bitter.
Omar then decided to build a fire to roast the beans and place them in hot water. The beans were again hard to eat so he drunk the liquid to satisfy his hunger and thirst. He all of a sudden gained enormous strength that lasted for days.
Patients from Mocha came to his cave for medical advice. He gave them to try his new drink as a drug, and they were cured. Soon, stories about this “miracle medicine” spread in Mocha and his followers insisted that his survival in exile is a religious sign.
Omar was asked by the Ruler to return to Mocha. Religious authorities proclaimed him as Saint. The plant and the black drink were named Mocha to honor this event.
Hence the Arabian version of the two main coffee legends showed to the world how coffee was discovered at the first place!