Love Your Coffee? Thank A Baby Goat
Updated: May 19
That’s right. Legend has it that goats played a primary role in the discovery of coffee. Not necessarily baby goats, but it could have been babies.
Around 900 AD a farmer in Ethiopia discovered his goats acting weird. They were hopping around and possibly dancing. It might have looked like this.
The farmer decided the cause for the strange behavior must have been the red berries they’d been eating. He decided to eat some and see what happened. Who does this? Who would eat berries that are making the animals act weird? Seems like a bad idea.
A bad idea that launched an industry that spans the globe and has lasted for centuries. Coffee related memes pop up on my Facebook feed a couple of times a week, and they clutter my Pinterest (does that say something about me?).
Today Brazil is the largest coffee grower in the world, but that’s not where it started. I would think if coffee was found in Ethiopia, and only Ethiopia, it would be one of the richest countries in the world. The Dubai of coffee. Instead it’s one of the poorest.
That farmer didn’t recognize the impact of his discovery. The product was grown and exported to nearby Middle Eastern countries through the port city of Mocha.
They kept a tight rein on coffee growing for a couple of centuries, not letting live plants or seeds out of the area. But with something so valuable, it only took a few smuggled plants to launch a global industry.
In the United States, coffee consumption increased with the Boston Tea party. Anyone who drank tea after that appeared unpatriotic.
During the first few centuries of coffee drinking, the debate raged. Was coffee a wonderful energy boost or a temptation from the devil? In a few locations, its consumption was even banned for a time. That didn’t last.
Coffee brewing evolved over the years. In the beginning, it was simply boiled in a pot or mixed in foods. It isn’t clear why it is now predominantly a beverage.
I remember helping my grandmother make coffee in the percolator (invented in 1818). If you miss those days, here is a video to bring back the memory. YouTube has everything.
The first espresso machine was developed in 1901 so that coffee would brew faster and employees could get back to work.
Coffee filtration has its own history. It is thought that one of the first coffee filters was a sock.
In 1908, a German housewife got tired of cleaning out sludge and coffee grounds. She used a piece of her son’s notebook paper to create a disposable filter. Melitta Bentz patented her filter and started a business.
Personally, I have a love-hate relationship with coffee. I love the caffeine pick-me-up in the morning, but I hate when my energy tanks in the evening.
Regardless of the highs and lows coffee may bring, none of this would be possible without crazy, dancing goats and a guy willing to eat unidentified red berries. And now, you can think about that when baby goat videos pop up in your Facebook feed.