The First Cup of Coffee

Three-thousand years ago or so, a group of nomadic people called the Oromos lived in the Kingdom of Kefa. Today this region lies in Ethiopia. The Oromos tribe had an ongoing feud with the Bonga tribe. 

Before going to battle with the Bongas, the Oromos nibbled hand sized dumplings made of crushed coffee beans and fat (yummy, yummy). This gave them a mighty charge but evidently did not assure them of victory. 

As fate would have it the Bongas were not only excellent warriors but also slave traders. Many unfortunate Oromos found themselves captives of the Bongas and marching their way to Harrar to be traded as slaves. 

Well of course, the Oromos were eating their little coffee dumplings along the way. The coffee the Oromos were eating was the harsh Robusta bean which grew wild throughout Zaire. Harrar is in the highlands and in this way the Robusta bean made its way to the mountains. Here it took root and mellowed into the much more palatable arabica bean which was later taken to Yemen and infamy. 

It is interesting to note the first cup of coffee was made from the leaves of the coffee plant. It was only later the idea of using the beans was introduced (most likely by the Sufis). Even so the first coffee brewed from beans was not made from roasted beans and tasted very bitter. 

The roasted bean was introduced as a way to control the coffee trade. All of the coffee trees belonged to the King. It was punishable by death to possess either a living tree or a living coffee bean. In order to sell the beans for profit and control the trade the king passed a law permitting only roasted beans (which killed the bean) be sold outside the palace. Thanks to all this history you are able to enjoy the delicious mellow cup of coffee you are having now. 

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