Ethiopia is the origin of the Coffea arabica plant and thus the ancient homeland of coffee.
The plant is now grown in other parts of the world but in Ethiopia, it is still traditionally cultivated by small farmers using organic methods.
The beans bear the name Kaffa, the province in the southwestern highlands where the beans first blossomed wild in the forests.
According to Ethiopian legend, an Abyssinian goatherd, Kaldi, who lived around AD 850, discovered coffee.
He observed his goats prancing excitedly and bleating loudly after chewing the bright red berries that grew on some green bushes.
Kaldi tried a few berries himself and soon felt a sense of elation. He filled his pockets with the berries and ran home to announce his discovery to his wife, who suggested that he take the berries to the monks in the monastery near Lake Tana, the source of the Blue Nile River.
Kaldi presented the chief monk with the berries and related his account of their miraculous effect.
Fearing the beans to be the work of the devil the monk hurled the berries into the fire. Within minutes, the monastery filled with the compelling aroma of roasting beans and the other monks gathered to investigate.
The beans were raked from the fire and crushed to extinguish the embers. The chief monk ordered the grains to be saved and covered with hot water to preserve them.
That night the monks sat up drinking the rich fragrant brew and vowed that they would drink it daily, to keep them awake during their long, nocturnal devotions.
While this popular account provides religious approval for the drinking of roasted coffee berries, it is believed that Ethiopian monks were already chewing the berries as a stimulant for centuries before it was brewed.
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