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Ethiopia, the Birthplace of Coffee!!

Coffee History

The birth place of coffee is the region of Ethiopia known as "Keffa", from where the name coffee is derived. Keffa is still one of the strong coffee producing regions in Ethiopia. The word "coffee" entered English in 1598 via Dutch "koffie" borrowed from Turkish "kahve", in turn borrowed from Arabic "qahwa", a truncation of "qahhwat al-bun" (wine of the bean). It is believed that the name is also derived from the Kingdom of "Keffa" in Ethiopia.

In ancient times, Ethiopians chewed and ate coffee seeds in their original form, not roasted or made into modern coffee. The story of Kaldi, the 9th-century Abyssinian (Ethiopian) goat-herd who discovered coffee, did not appear in writing until 1671 AD and is legendary.  The goat-herd, who noticed the energizing effects when his flock nibbled on the bright red berries of a certain bush, chewed on the fruit himself. His exhilaration prompted him to bring the berries to a Muslim holy man in a nearby monastery. The holy man disapproved of their use and threw them into the fire, from which an enticing aroma billowed and other holy men came. 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 Ethiopian ancestors in the Keffa region were the first to have recognized the energizing effect of the native coffee plant. Even to this current day, some people in Keffa still chew coffee seeds after mixing them with ghee (clarified butter).


Coffee was said to have spread from Ethiopia to Egypt and then to Yemen.  The earliest credible evidence of either coffee drinking or knowledge of the coffee tree appears in the middle of the fifteenth century, in the Sufi monasteries of Yemen.  By the 16th century, it had reached the rest of the Middle East, Persia, Turkey, and Northern Africa. Coffee then spread to Italy, and to the rest of Europe, to Indonesia, and to the Americas.

As it has been since the 16th century, Ethiopia remains the biggest producer of Arabica coffee beans in the world.

Rift Valley Trading
Specialty Coffee Association of America - 2012 Member