And the answer: Ethiopia.
Widely considered the birthplace of coffee, Ethiopian legend tells the tale of goat herder Kaldi, who noticed how exuberant his goats behaved after consuming coffee berries. His local abbot then used the berries to make a concoction that kept him awake through the long hours of evening prayer.
The legend of Kaldi and his goats marks the beginning of coffee’s cultural significance in Ethiopia, yet scientific evidence suggests that individuals have been consuming the coffee berries since 900 CE—over a thousand years ago. Yet, the initial cultivation of coffee in Ethiopia functioned on a small, individual scale until around 1500 CE. Ethiopia’s warm, tropical temperatures and naturally abundant coffee forests meant that coffee beans could be harvested locally (and easily) without much effort.
By the 1800’s, commercial coffee production was in full swing, though many farmers were still harvesting coffee cherries from natural coffee forests. Income from coffee led to the rise of the Kingdom of Shewa in the 1800’s, a breakout government within the Ethiopian Empire. Between 1950 and 2000, Ethiopia changed governmental types three times and faced multiple wars. Throughout this difficult time, however, the coffee industry remained strong.
Did you know?
Yesterday, October 1, was World Coffee Day! From tropical Africa to the mugs of individuals across the globe, coffee is one of the largest exports and industries worldwide. In 2020 alone, 1.2 million metric tons of certified coffee were sold! Makes sense, considering likely over a billion people around the world drink coffee everyday.
Learn more about coffee in Ethiopia here.