A Goatherd and a Holy Man Gave Us Coffee

Ethiopia Yirgacheffe

It’s widely believed that coffee drinking began between 900 and 1,000 AD in Abyssinia, now Ethiopia. The story goes like this.

While Kaldi played flute, his goat herd disappeared. Imagine his panic! Luckily for the boy’s behind, he found them – dancing and grazing on the leaves and beans of wild coffee trees. He was the curious sort, so he sampled some beans and, before long, Kaldi was also dancing.

The goatherd gave some beans to the local religious scholar, who was horrified by their intoxicant effect and tossed them into a fire. He and his compatriots savored the resulting aroma and even scraped the charred beans from the fire, deciding to preserve them by covering them with water. This became the first coffee drunk by humans; it was known as “bean broth.”

Today, Ethiopia is the fifth largest coffee-growing country. Less than half of the coffee is exported, but that’s nearly 5% of the coffee grown worldwide.

Ethiopia Yirgacheffe is naturally produced, much of it from wild coffee trees growing at about 2,000 meters above sea level. It’s harvested, washed, and sun-dried. The beans take a medium or light roast well and may be brewed by any method. Drink it hot or cold.

Take it seriously when an Ethiopian invites you to coffee. The ceremony is both leisurely and important. The setting, the vessels, and the method of roasting, brewing, and serving combine to create an atmosphere of congeniality and mutual respect.

When you taste your first cup of Holler Roast’s Strictly High Grown (SHG) Ethiopia Yirgacheffe, pay attention to its delicate balance but unusually deep and fruity body. Sniff its complex aroma: sweet chocolate, citrus, and pecan.

You might try this coffee with fruit desserts and peppery main dishes, or my perennial second-favorite food, chocolate.