The Origin of Coffee - a tale of energetic goats, a smuggling Indian saint and more

I don't even remember when I discovered coffee, it was THAT intrinsic in my life. Something that is just there like Ghee or let's take a more universal example - cake!
Someone did discover coffee first though𑁋 it was the goats. William H. Ukers quoted this ancient legend in his book "All About Coffee". The legend says that an Ethiopian goat-herder Kaldi noticed how his goats would get really energetic after eating the bright red cherries and leaves from Coffea. The herder shared his discovery with the monks who realized that this caffeine concoction helped them stay awake during prayers, so it was a win for everybody.

Image Credit - Art Cloud

After its discovery in Ethiopia, the trading of coffee was strictly confined to the Arabs. They ensured this by boiling or roasting the beans before exporting them too other regions. This prevented the coffee beans from germinating and the trade monopoly remained with the Arabs.

Image Credit - Masashi Wata

Baba Budan, an Indian Sufi saint from Karnataka is believed to have single-handedly broken this monopoly in the 1600s on his way back from the pilgrimage to Mecca. Some say he smuggled seven coffee beans in his beard. After returning from the pilgrimage, he is believed to have planted the seeds in the Chandragiri Hills. Baba Budan Giri, a mountain named after the fascinating saint remains a popular tourist destination. Interestingly, this southern state continues to be the biggest coffee-producing state in India.

In 1614, The Dutch kickstarted their coffee trade after successfully managing to smuggle coffee seedlings from the Arabs. However, they were unsuccessful in re-planting them in the Netherlands due to the colder climatic conditions of the region. Another attempt to start the coffee plantations in Java, Indonesia by a Dutch governor was successful. Indonesia remains the fourth-largest producer of coffee globally.

As per the National Coffee Association USA, the mayor of Amsterdam presented a coffee plant sapling to the French King Louis XIV in 1714. Since then, the colonialists and traders have been credited for spreading coffee plantations globally.

Image Credit - Annabelle Clawson

While Starbucks has to thank the goats for its lattes, it was Arbuckles in New York who first mass-produced pre-roasted coffee in paper bags. Prior to this, coffee beans were generally bought green and had to be roasted before consumption.
The company came up with its own roasters, exporting offices in Mexico and Brazil, barrel-producing factory and even build their own private railway track for easy facilitation of their product. Today, the coffee industry has infinite diversity for its consumers. Some like quaint coffee shops while others like their coffee in their ice-cream.
How do you like your cup of joe?


  1. Never really thought of how coffee was discovered,Really Interesting and Informative,Thanks : )

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  3. Great Article. Thank you for providing such a unique and valuable information to your readers. I really appreciate your work. wholesale coffee beans


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