The History of Coffee: Kaldi and the Dancing Goats

I still remember my first cup of coffee. My (cool) aunt introduced me to the drink. Since then, I’ve been hooked. Yet, it wasn’t until recently I discovered the origins of this wonderful invention. There must have been a time before coffee, right?

The history of coffee can be traced to the day, perhaps a thousand years ago, when an Ethiopian goatherd named Kaldi noticed his goats dancing and frolicking throughout the fields. Kaldi questioned the goats’ behavior, determined to find the cause.

When Kaldi investigated, he found the goats cheerfully eating the red berries of an unfamiliar tree. Kaldi decided to try the berries for himself, resulting in a burst of energy and excitement! Kaldi quickly became the “happiest herder in happy Arabia.”

Some time later, Kaldi brought the berries to the monastery. He shared them with the monks who disapproved of this rare fruit, fearing that the effects were related to evil spirits. The monks threw the berries into the fire, resulting in an exquisite smell that attracted the nearby people.

Realizing that such an aroma wasn’t related to any evil entity, the roasted beans were raked from the fire by the monks, ground, and preserved in water. This would go down in history as the first cup of coffee. 

The brew became loved by monks for helping them stay awake during nightly devotions, as they were previously unable to stay awake. Their prayers were answered—literally. Not only did it enable them to pray, it tasted good too.

This legend is certainly a fun approach to coffee’s origins. Thanks to Kaldi and his goats, we now have the drink we enjoy today. Looking back on the first time I had coffee, I realize how much history is behind this drink we all love.