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Kaldi was a legendary Ethiopian goatherd who discovered the coffee plant, according to popular legend. This is a popular legend on how coffee came about and how it entered the Islamic world and then the rest of the world.
Kaldi, noticing that when his flock nibbled on the bright red berries of a certain bush they became more energetic (jumping goats), chewed on the fruit himself. His exhilaration prompted him to bring the berries to an Islamic monk in a nearby monastery, but the monk disapproved of their use and threw them into a fire, from which an enticing aroma billowed. The roasted beans were quickly raked from the embers, ground up, and dissolved in hot water, yielding the world's first cup of coffee.
The story is probably apocryphal, as it was first related by Antoine Faustus Nairon, a Maronite who became a 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).
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.
- 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.
- Noted by H. F. Nicolai, Der Kaffee und seine Ersatzmittel: Volkshygienische Studie, (Brunswick, 1901) ch. 1 "Geschichtliches über den Kaffee" p. 4 note 1.
- 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
- For example, Kaldi - Wholesale Gourmet Coffee Roasters, Kaldi's Coffee Roasting Company, Kaldi's Coffee House, or a Google search for "Kaldi". All accessed 12 September 2006.