Kaldi's Delicious Discovery

 Kaldi's Delicious Discovery!

I find it hard to start my day without a big cup of coffee.

No one knows the actual origin of coffee, however it is believed its history started in Ethiopia. Legend says Kaldi, a goat herder, in the medieval kingdom of Kaffa, discovered coffee plants in 850 A.D. His goats after eating the coffee berries had extreme energy. Kaldi informed local monks about the berries who proceeded to make a drink out of the berries. 

From these humble beginnings coffee eventually spread throughout the world

Coffee has actually been more important in my life than just waking me up. For several years, while working for Obsidian Group, I oversaw the construction and opening of multiple Coffee Culture® cafes. These coffee cafes were modeled on a European tradition of coffee houses that date back hundreds of years. Even after leaving Obsidian Group, coffee was still in my future. I spent a year in China working with a friend, Will Du, who owned a coffee machine manufacturing company. His Java® store front location was initially mainly a showcase for his machines. I developed this location in Hangzhou into a café concept which he has subsequently opened in several other locations in China. Eve4n in China where tea reigns supreme coffee is making inroads, 

Coffee Houses have always been meeting and gathering places where people come to relax and discuss issues of the day. Coffee is so ingrained in our lives that it is strange to think that it was at times considered a dangerous drug. Throughout history there have been several attempts to outright ban or illegalize coffee, some for religious and other for political reasons. The five most documented instances, in history, that nearly banned coffee and could have altered the very drink so many of us enjoy each day are:

Mecca and Islam
In 1511, Khair Beg, the governor of Mecca, decided to ban coffee. He be4lieved coffee to be as dangerous and intoxicating as wine, which was prohibited by the Quran. Fortunately, after great opposition from the public and councilors, the sultan of Egypt overturned the ruling and coffee was flowing in Mecca once more.

During the 16th century many members of the clergy believed coffee could corrupt people with its great taste. It was labelled as a satanic drink with many priests calling for its ban. However, Pope Clement VIII tried the drink, deciding it was not the work of the devil, but instead a delicious drink. To reinstate it into Christian life, the Pope baptized the drink, declaring it a Christian beverage.

The Ottoman Empire
Murad IV believed coffee was a drug rather than a drink, that coffeehouses spread radical ideas and provoked social disorder. He therefore sent out orders from Constantinople that anyone found purchasing or selling coffee get beaten on their first offence. For a second offence, they would be sown into a leather bag and tossed into the Bosphorus Strait. The most severe penalties against coffee ever!

By the 18th century coffee consumption had spread to most of the world. King Gustav believed there were numerous negative health benefits associated with drinking coffee. Citing “excessive drinking” amongst the public King Gustav III banned coffee in 1746. To prove his theory of negative health benefits, Gustav conducted his very own ‘scientific’ experiment with a pair of twins. One twin was ordered to drink excessive amounts of coffee, while the other drank similar amounts of tea. Ironically, both twins outlived the late King, with the coffee-drinking twin surviving the longest. This may well have been the first study on the health benefits of coffee.

In 1777, Frederick the Great of Prussia issued a manifesto claiming beer’s superiority over coffee. He argued that coffee interfered with the country’s beer consumption. For years, Frederick continued his campaign against coffee, raising taxes to keep it out of the hands of commoners.

While King Gustav’s study may have been the first, even today coffee is under almost constant scrutiny as to its health benefits or detriments. Even so Coffee has become the second most traded commodity on the planet only behind oil. It has also become the second most popular drink in the world, just after water itself.

More on Coffee, and Coffee Milestones throughout history in coming posts.


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