When Did People First Start Drinking Coffee?

Almost everybody loves coffee. You probably drank coffee when you first woke up this morning, and there's a decent chance that you're sipping on some right now. Human beings didn't evolve with coffee beans in their mouths, however. At some point, somebody had to discover the miracle fruit ... and someone else had to craft it into the miracle beverage you enjoy today. 

Believe it or not, though, the first coffee lovers might've been goats.

See, much like humankind may have begun in Ethiopia, so did coffee. Back in the 9th century, according to Mental Floss, popular folklore says that an Ethiopian man named Kaldi noticed that his goats were acting funny: every time the animals ate a batch of delicious red cherries (coffee is a fruit, if you didn't know), they'd become weirdly energetic. Now, Kaldi was an observant man. So, he quickly deduced that the cherries were the cause of the freaky behavior, and tried them himself, perhaps making him the first man on Earth to learn about the crazy things caffeine does to your body. In a burst of caffeinated energy, Kaldi brought these fruits to the local religious leaders, who promptly condemned them, and threw them into the fire ... only to love the aroma so much, allegedly, that they gave them a second chance, mixing them with water to produce the first coffee beverages. Should've listened to Kaldi right away, fellas.

Great story. However, did this actually happen? 

Today, Ethiopia remains the land of coffee

It's hard to definitively say if the old Kaldi legend is true, but Ethiopia is definitely coffee's homeland, and it's possible some Ethiopians might've been eating coffee for centuries beforehand. These early caffeine aficionados preferred to mix their coffee cherries with butter and animal fat to produce natural protein bars. The first coffee beverages, according to PBS, were a wine drink made using fermented coffee pulp. 

It wasn't until the 13th century where modern roasted coffee became a thing, thanks to the Arabians: once the Muslim communities discovered these awesome Ethiopian fruits, they quickly marched them up north and experimented with brewing methods. After a few centuries, according to the National Coffee Association, the world's first coffee shops (then called qahveh khaneh) popped up in Turkey, Persia, Syria, and Egypt, and these locations became prime social hubs, much like the coffee shops of today. Europe didn't hop onto the coffee wagon until the 17th century, but even then, coffee was — like dragons, pentagrams, and everything else — pronounced demonic. Sigh. 

Anyhow, while Arabians brought coffee to the world, Ethiopia is where coffee began. Coffee continues to be a huge part of Ethiopian culture today, as twelve million Ethiopians grow and harvest coffee beans. Nowhere is coffee's influence more notable than in the famous Ethiopian coffee ceremony, described by HowStuffWorks, which is an ancient, elaborate ritual used to cement friendship, respect, and hospitality. So, not only did Ethiopia first "invent" coffee, but they still do it better than anyone else.