15 December 2012

Coffee Origins - Dancing Goats

Uncommon Grounds by Mark Pendergrast, 1999, Excerpts

According to folklore an Ethiopian goatherd named Kaldi discovered the joys of coffee when his goats ate the berries and became so frisky that they “danced.” Once the Ethiopians discovered coffee it was only a matter of time until the drink spread through trade with the Arabs across the narrow band of the Red Sea. By the end of the fifteenth century, Muslim pilgrims had introduced coffee throughout the Islamic world in Persia, Egypt, Turkey, and North Africa, making it a lucrative trade item.

The drink gained in popularity throughout the sixteenth century. The Ottoman Turks occupied Yemen in 1536, and soon afterward the coffee bean became an important export throughout the Turkish Empire. The beans generally were exported from the Yemenis port of Mocha, so the coffee from that region took on the name of the port.

The Coffee Trader by David Liss, 2003, Excerpt

“I can tell you about Kaldi, the Abyssinian goatherd. He lived quite some time ago, tending his flock in the hills of Abyssinia. One afternoon he noticed that his goats were much more lively than usual, dancing about, raising up on their hind legs, bleating out their little goat songs. Kaldi spent several days watching them, and they grew increasingly more lively. They ran and played and hopped about when they should have been sleeping. They danced and sang instead of eating.”

“Kaldi was certain a demon had possessed the goats, but he summoned his courage and followed the beasts, hoping got catch a glimpse of this fiend. The next day, he saw that the goats had come upon a strange bush. After they ate the fruit of the bush, they once again began to leap about. Kaldi ate some of the berries himself, and soon he could not resist the urge to dance with the goats.”

“A holy man happened by at that time and asked Kaldi why he capered with his herd. He explained that he had eaten the fruit of the bush, and it had filled him with untold vigor. So the holy man, who was a rather boring fellow, took some fruit home. He was plagued by the fact that his students would fall asleep while he was lecturing, so he made a drink out of the berries and fed it to his students before he lectured. Soon he was known throughout the world of Mohammedans as a man who could deliver discourses from sundown to sunup without his students falling asleep.”

No One You Know by Michelle Richmond, 2008, Excerpts

The story begins in Abyssinia in the ninth century. It begins with a young goatherd named Kaldi, and with his goats, who refuse, one evening, to follow him home. They are absorbed in a new discovery, a tree Kaldi has never seen before, with dark glossy leaves and red berries. They eat and eat, and it takes Kaldi a long time to coax them down from the mountain.

That night the goats don’t sleep. The next morning, when Kaldi takes them again to the grazing place on the mountain, they return immediately to the same tree. Like Eve, Kaldi is curious; he must have some himself. The berries of the strange plant give him a feeling of alertness and well-being. He goes back home and tells his family and friends what he has experienced. Within a fortnight, the dervishes at a nearby monastery have discovered that chewing the leaves of the mystical plant allows them to spend less time sleeping, more time enacting their passionate devotions to God.

Dancing Goats ® is a registered trademark of Batdorf & Bronson Coffee Roasters.

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