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Kaldi or Khalid was a legendary Arab[1] Ethiopian goatherd who discovered the coffee plant around 850 CE, according to popular legend, show some artwork depicting him, after which it entered the Islamic world and then the rest of the world.


In the 9th century a goat herder named Kaldi from Kaffa noticed that when his goats were nibbling on the bright red berries of a certain bush, they became very energetic, Kaldi then chewed on the fruit himself. His exhilaration prompted him to bring the berries to the nearest place of worship in the village. After a brief explanation, the head monk deemed the berries to be the "Devil’s work", and abruptly threw the berries into a nearby fire. Soon thereafter, a sensual and powerful aroma filled the room that could not be overlooked. The head monk, who had thrown them in the fire in the first place, ordered the embers be pulled from the fire and for hot water to be poured over them to preserve the smell. Upon drinking the mixture, they experienced the peaceful, warming, and calming sensation it gave them. The after-effects were just as powerful, as they were able to stay alert and discuss important matters for longer periods of time. The monk then shared his discovery with the other monks at the monastery, and knowledge of the energizing berries began to spread.[2][3]


The story is probably apocryphal, as it was first related by Antoine Faustus Nairon, a Maronite Roman professor of Oriental languages and author of one of the first printed treatises devoted to coffee, De Saluberrima potione Cahue seu Cafe nuncupata Discurscus (Rome, 1671).[4][5]

The myth of Kaldi the Ethiopian goatherd and his dancing goats, the coffee origin story most frequently encountered in Western literature, embellishes the credible tradition that the Sufi encounter with coffee occurred in Ethiopia, which lies just across the narrow passage of the Red Sea from Arabia's western coast.[6]


In modern times, "Kaldi Coffee" or "Kaldi's Coffee" and "Dancing Goat" or "Wandering Goat" are popular names for coffee shops and coffee roasting companies around the world.[7] The biggest coffee chain in Ethiopia is called Kaldi's.[8]


  1. ^
  2. ^ A similar version after Nairon, without the name of "Kaldi" and sited in Yemen, is recounted in Miguelonne Toussaint-Samat, Anthea Bell, tr. A History of Food 2nd. ed. 2008, "Coffee in Legend" pp 532-34.
  3. ^ "The History of Coffee". National Coffee Association USA. Retrieved 14 August 2022.
  4. ^ Noted by H. F. Nicolai, Der Kaffee und seine Ersatzmittel: Volkshygienische Studie, (Brunswick, 1901) ch. 1 "Geschichtliches über den Kaffee" p. 4 note 1.
  5. ^ Banesio, Fausto Naironio (1671). De saluberrima potione cahue, seu cafe nuncupata discursus Fausti Naironi Banesii Maronitae, linguae Chaldaicae, seu Syriacae in almo vrbis archigymnasio lectoris ad eminentiss. ... D. Io. Nicolaum S.R.E. card. . (in Latin). Typis Michaelis Herculis.
  6. ^ Weinberg, Bennett Alan; Bealer, Bonnie K. (2001). The World of Caffeine: The Science and Culture of the World's Most Popular Drug. Psychology Press. ISBN 978-0-415-92722-2., page 3
  7. ^ For example, Kaldi - Wholesale Gourmet Coffee Roasters, Kaldi's Coffee Roasting Company, Kaldi's Coffee House, or a Google search for "Kaldi" Wandering Goat Coffee Company Dancing Goat Cafe All accessed 12 September 2006.
  8. ^ "Ethiopia's ingenious video pirates". The Economist. 6 July 2017. Retrieved 7 July 2017.

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