The origin of coffee
Coffee originated in what is now Ethiopia. According to legend, it comes from the Ethiopian region of Kaffa, and was discovered by Kaldi, a 9th century goatherd who noticed that his goats became particularly animated after they ate the berries of a certain tree.
He reported his finding to the head of a local monastery where, curious about Kaldi’s discovery, the monks made a drink with the berries and found to their excitement that it kept them awake, allowing them to stay alert through long nights of prayer.
Slowly, word of the powerful new beverage spread far and wide.
Coffee is an important part of life in Ethiopia. For a time at the end of the 17th century, the Ethiopian Orthodox Church is thought to have prohibited coffee drinking, but that is certainly not the case today. Most Ethiopians consume coffee at least once or twice a day, coffee shops abound and coffee production represents an important part of the country’s economy.
Agriculture makes up more than 43% of Ethiopia’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and 90% of its exports. Coffee constitutes a sizeable part of that, generating about 30% of Ethiopia’s export revenues.
Ethiopia is the largest coffee producer in Africa, but while Ethiopia’s coffee production has been rising in recent years, it is still a relatively small producer when compared to giants like Brazil and Costa Rica. Ethiopian coffee represents less than 5% of the global coffee supply.
Unusually for a coffee producer, Ethiopia consumes a great deal of the coffee it produces. More than half of Ethiopia’s coffee production goes to the domestic market.