The first coffee plants came from the Horn of Africa. Native tribes would grind the coffee cherries together, mixing the paste with animal fat. Rolled into little balls, the mixture was used to give warriors energy for battle.
During these ancient times, coffee’s stimulating properties were thought to be a sort of religious ecstasy. The drink earned a mystical reputation, shrouded in secrecy and associated with priests and doctors. Two prominent legends emerged to explain the discovery of this magic bean.
According to one story, a goat-herder noticed his herd became friskier after consuming the red cherries of a wild coffee shrub. Curious, he tasted the fruit himself. Delighted by its invigorating effects, he was spotted dancing with his goats by a group of monks. Soon the monks began to boil the bean themselves and use the liquid to stay awake during all-night ceremonies.
The other story is that a Muslim dervish was condemned by his enemies to wander in the desert. In his delirium, the man heard a voice instructing him to eat the fruit from a nearby coffee tree. He tried to soften the beans in water, and when this failed, he simply drank the liquid. Interpreting his survival and energy as a sign of Allah, he returned to his people, spreading the faith and the recipe.