Think Africa’s New Coffee Culture? Ethiopia Has Been Doing That for Centuries

(Photo: Steve Evans)

Mail & Guardian Africa


KALDI was an Ethiopian goat herder from Kaffa who is said to have “discovered” coffee after he noticed his goats dancing, unable to sleep at night and acting strange after they had eaten red berries from a certain tree.

Many believe the legend, thought to have taken place around 850AD, has elements of truth to it. After all, there is now a consensus amongst historians and botanists that coffee is indigenous to Ethiopia where it still continues to grow wild in the highlands where Kaldi lived. Having tried the beans himself, and feeling a novel elation, Kaldi shared his findings with a nearby monastery, believing it to have been a gift from the heavens. Slowly the discovery of the magic beans spread – but not inland, it spread across seas and oceans.

Trendy chain

Coffee culture is considered to be a novel phenomenon in Africa, recently brought back by Africans that have studied and worked abroad. The demand in coffee-producing countries and emerging markets is now expanding significantly and coffee consumption within households is on the rise, as are the number of cafes in major cities.

Cafe Neo, a trendy Nigerian chain, recently hit headlines as it hopes to conquer Africa’s major cities with 100% African coffee before the giants of the international coffee industry do.

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