Ethiopia, the Birthplace of Coffee


There is no written history regarding the origin of coffee. All the available resources and references regarding the discovery of coffee are legendary tales and orally transferred stories through generations. There are a number of stories concerning the birth place of coffee. However, all the stories confirm that coffee is originated in the south western parts of Ethiopia. On the other hand many believed that Ethiopia is the birthplace of coffee (not South America, which some believe). The indigenous coffee trees (which some experts say, are the only native coffee trees in the world) first grew in ancient “Abyssinia,” which is now present day Ethiopia. These trees blossomed in an area called “Kaffa” and the trees were called “Kafa,” which may as well be the root word for coffee. In the tenth century, coffee was considered as a food for the local residents and the specific place is called Makira in Decha district at Buni sub village is origin of coffee according to some reports.
These people gathered the coffee beans from the trees that grew in the region, ground them up and mixed them with animal fat, forming small balls that they carried as rations on trips. Other indigenous tribes of Ethiopia ate the beans as porridge or drank a wine created from the fermented crushed coffee beans. Around 5000 varieties grow wild in the forest. On contrary according to some other reports and studies Coffee plant which has been discovered in the 9th C in Jimma, specifically Keta Muduga Choche and spread among the society did not remain in the locality of its birth place. Along the trade routes stretching crossing Jimma, coffee was introduced and exported to the neighborhood of Jimma and across the overseas.

Coffee is a beverage obtained from coffee plant’s fruit called cherry. The coffee plant refers to any type of tree in the genus madder family which is actually a tropical evergreen shrub that has the potential to grow 100 feet tall. Coffee Arabica and Coffee Robusta are the two most commonly cultivated species of coffee plant having economic significance. Arabica accounts for about 70 percent of the world’s coffee production. Robusta coffee trees represent about 30 percent of the world’s market.

The coffee trees grow well in tropical regions with abundant rainfall, year-round warm temperatures with no frost. The coffee tree needs an average temperature between 17° C to 23° C with abundant precipitation and good soil conditions for good growth. The coffee plant produces its first full crop of beans at about 5 years old and then remains productive for about 15 years.

Domestic Scenario: Ethiopia is known to be the birth place for coffee. Coffee is the major export commodity cultivated in Ethiopia. Coffee grown in Ethiopia is known all over the world for it excellent quality and flavor. Today, Ethiopia stands as the biggest coffee producer and exporter in Africa and amongst the leading in the world. Today wildly growing and cultivated coffee trees cover a surface of roughly 400,000 hectares in Ethiopia. Coffee, a number one export commodity of Ethiopia, is mostly grown by farmers and individuals who care for their coffee like their own babies. Treating coffee and rainforest with respect to nature is a main concern.

Coffee Varieties: The type and grade of coffee is highly diverse in Ethiopia. Ethiopia is the producer for the several renowned varieties of coffee including Sidama, Yirgacheffe, jimma and Harar. Apart from these, there are several other famous varieties that Ethiopia produces. The Ethiopian coffee is processed in two ways, washed processing and the sundried processing.

Ethiopia is the origin of coffee (the Arabica).
The story of coffee has its beginnings in Ethiopia, the original home of the coffee plant; coffee Arabica, which still grows wild in the forest of the highlands. While nobody is sure exactly how coffee was originally discovered as a beverage, it is believed that its cultivation and use began as early as the 9th century. Some authorities claim that it was cultivated in the Yemen earlier, around AD 575. The only thing that seems certain is that it originated in Ethiopia, from where it traveled to the Yemen about 600 years ago, and from Arabia it began its journey around the world.

Among the many legends that have developed concerning the origin of coffee, the most popular account is that of Kaldi, an Abyssinian goatherd, from the Kaffa region who lived around 9th c A.D. One day he observed his goats behaving in abnormally exuberant manner, skipping, rearing on their hind legs and bleating loudly. He noticed they might have eaten the bright red berries that grew on the green bushes nearby. Kaldi started following them and saw them, and then he tried a few for himself, and soon felt a novel sense of elation.

He filled his pockets with the berries and ran home to announce his discovery to his wife. ‘They are heaven-sent,’ she declared.

By the 13th century, coffee’s restorative powers were well known in the Islamic world. Coffee was considered a potent medicine, as well as a religious potion that helped keep people wake during prayers. Pilgrims of Islam spread the coffee throughout the Middle East and by the end of the 15th century; coffeehouses had replaced mosques as favored meeting places. With the spread of Ethiopian from Africa, to the Middle East, India, Europe, and the Americas, make it one of the most popular bends of coffee in the world.