We are so used to having coffee every single day that no one thinks about its origin anymore. Coffee today is a normal occurrence in our lives, something that should be there all the time, although everything in this world has a story, a history. When it comes to the history of coffee and how it began to be consumed, no one can put his finger on the precise starting point.
Many legends emerged around the first use of coffee, each legend containing details according to the area where it appeared. Still, most paths lead to Ethiopia, considered the cradle of native, undomesticated coffee. The first conclusive evidence that a beverage was prepared from the beans produced by the coffee tree appears only in the 15th century, in Yemen, although coffee may have been consumed long before these recordings appeared.
It is believed that the Ethiopian ancestors of what is today the Oromo ethnic group, still living mostly in Ethiopia, were among the first to discover that coffee had energising properties. But, no direct evidence pointed out toward the place where native coffee used to grow or which people that belonged to the Ethiopian natives used the plant as a stimulant before the 17th century, when the use of coffee started to appear in writing around the world. It seems that the Islamic world was the first to consume coffee with regularity, a practice that was closely related to their religious traditions.
One legend revolves around one mystic belonging to the Sufi group in Yemen. The story tells that while travelling to Ethiopic, this man noticed that birds were filled with vitality after consuming the berries of coffee trees. Trying these berries himself, the man noticed that they had the same effects on him, elevating his energy levels as well.
Others say that it was a disciple of Sheik Abou’l Hasan Schadheli, by his name Omar, who discovered coffee and its uses. While in exile in a desert cave in the proximity of Ousab, he tried to eat the berries of a nearby shrub, pushed by hunger. But, the berries tasted bitter, so he thought that roasting them will make them get a better flavour. Roasting did not solve the problem because now the berries were hard.
The next step Omar took was to boil the roasted beans to soften them up. This particular process produced the dark brown liquid most of us drink today, containing the properties and flavour of coffee beans. It is said that due to this beverage, Omar managed to survive for days, as it managed to revitalise him and restore his energy.
No one can say for sure whether these stories are real, although the first information about the act of drinking coffee does come from Yemen, more precisely from the Sufi monasteries that were in the area, in the 15th century, as mentioned earlier. The Sufis used coffee to stay awake at night, during their devotions, which explains why coffee consumption was so widely spread within these monasteries.
But, the coffee beans in Yemen were imported from Karachi, Pakistan. The origins of coffee may be blurry. Indeed, all we are left to do is enjoy the fact that this beverage was discovered, by someone at one point, so we can all enjoy today.
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