Never-ending, amazing Ethiopian Coffee Discovery’s saga

The forest-covered hills of Abyssinia loomed large in the distance. The fogs covered the tips of the hills and looked like half-naked and motionless giants that were tossed down from the sky by an invisible hand. At the foot of the hills laid a thick carpet of greenery that stops at one side of the small village before it continued on the other side.

Soon, night fell on the immense horizon casting dark clouds that slowly engulfed the entire area from the hills to the village which consisted of sparsely built huts where people took shelters after long days of wanderings in the forest in search of food and firewood.

Kaldi, the boy shepherd, ossed and turned on the mat laid down on the ground. The images of goats running helter-skelter gripped his mind. He could not fathom as to why the animals had behaved in such an unusual way on the green field where various plants, grass and shrubs provided them with food. It was not however clear where they got the energy to scamper here and there with unusual gait. This was what kept Kaldi awake that evening.

His thoughts jumped from the goats to the field and then to the shrubs and back to the goats that he struggled with the idea of telling his mother about his experience with the goats. Yet, he was afraid that he would be a laughing stoke of the adults or ridiculed by all the mothers in the village and by the children of his age who might take his tale akin to ghost stories about creatures that do not exist in reality but sometimes appear in the dark to frighten children like him. The only difference is that he saw the dancing goats in daylight while ghosts presumable appeared in the dark and their stories were made up and told in the evening…

The above passage is an excerpt from a short story about the discovery of coffee in Ethiopia by a boy name Kaldi. This extract gives a short background and the setting for the story and the name of the main character, a boy named Kaldi (not Kaldis) who lived in a village of herders (mainly goats) one day bumped into the magic shrub that later on became a world famous and most popular beverage that is continuing to baffle the popular mind as new discoveries hit the headlines and the scientific community is regularly coming up with new surprises about this fascinating bean. The story is entitled, (“Discovery Boy”).

It is an established practice in Western literary or artistic culture, to write books or make films about something that has radically changed human culture or the way of life of communities. This is because the discoveries give inspiration to new generations of researchers or entrepreneurs and provide information on how something was discovered accidentally before it became a national passion that captures its imagination the way myths and legends do. The story of the discovery of coffee can indeed be considered as something akin to myth, legend and saga all combined in one.

However, the modern saga of coffee reads less like a myth and more like a carefully woven expression of scientific reality. The true story of coffee is of course a never-ending tale in which science has occupied a predominant importance. Since its birth in the southern highlands of Ethiopia, at a place called Kaffa and subsequently lend, its name to the magical bean, coffee has been considered a fascination, and good and bad habit, a healing potion, and more recently, a potent remedy against a good number of diseases or illnesses.

In our hectic and high speed modern culture, work-related stress has become one of the major causes of cardiovascular and other diseases. Although the pace with which modern drugs are invented and distributed keeps pace with the disastrous effects of diseases, traditional foods and beverages are fighting for more space and acceptance by the pharmaceutical industry. Recent developments in this area tend to favor traditional foods and beverage over modern drugs with their devastating side effects and unknown long term consequences.

Among the traditional beverages that have long attracted the attention of the scientific community as well as direct users, coffee stands out as the favorite. From doubts about its potency in some cases as a relief to long unknown physical and mental health challenges, coffee has now grown into a ‘drug of choice” for many patients who either abhor tablets or injections or have lost hope in the so-called modern medicines that may prolong life but at high cost to lifestyle choices. Many modern drugs tend to put limits to our food consumption patterns and preferences. On the contrary beverages like coffee, turmeric, ginger, lemon juice, are fast becoming the drugs of choice by a growing community of patients tired and sick of swallowing pills multiple times a day or taking daily doses of injections.

According to an April 16th information available on Google media, and entitled, “Genome Study Reveals Prehistoric Origin of Ethiopian Coffee” written by will Dunham, “ which posted by Reuters news outlet, “you might call it Joe, java, mud, brew, mocha or your morning jolt. Coffee is undoubtedly a big part of global culture and the kind made from the Arabica bean is the most appreciated by coffee drinkers.

Kaldi’s soul must enjoy and be happy with this latest piece of news because it at least corroborates the fact that his discovery took place in Ethiopia. This is because there are many places in the world that claim the mantle of “originators” or give tentative settings for the discovery of coffee. However, most of the pretenders do not provide scientific data to base their claims on. Ethiopia is definitively the source and origin of coffee. This is bound to lay the dispute to rest definitively.

Researchers have now unlocked the genome of the Arabica species and traced its origins to a natural mating between two other coffee species an estimated 610 000 to one million years ago in the forests of Ethiopia. That makes the species older than our own species Homo Sapiens which arose in Africa about 300 000 years ago.”

According to another story by the same platform, entitled, “Five Health Benefits of Black Coffee”, black coffee is packed with anti-oxidants, enhances cognitive function, supports liver health, boosts metabolism, and leads to lower risk of type two diabetes. The details are staggering and scientifically supported although doctors hardly prescribe black coffee as an ordinary medicine like aspirin or any other pain killer.

In this article, we put particular emphasis on black coffee remedial benefits in the case of stress and stress-related illnesses. Black coffee is recognized as stress reliever. “Coffee is a magical drink that may help you to relax from your stress and tension. A cup of black coffee may instantly boost your mood and make things better. It may stimulate the nervous system and help to increase the neurotransmitters such as dopamine and serotonin.”

If you ask which coffee is best for stress? The answer is, “If you are someone who gets jittery or anxious when you consume caffeine, then decaf coffee might be right for you. There is no reason to put your body through all that anxiety if you can get natural energy from our decaf with benefits. Keep calm and sip on.” Another source adds more benefits of drinking black coffee such as, living longer, your body processing glucose better; you are less likely to develop heart failure, less likely to develop Parkinson’s disease, is good for liver health and gives strong DNA.

Black coffee may be an excellence source for stress relief but it is not full-proof of negative consequences. This is particularly true with people who consume high amounts of black coffee every day. “Low to moderate doses of caffeine (50-300 mg) may cause increased alertness, energy and ability to concentrate while higher doses may have negative effects such as anxiety, restlessness, insomnia and increased heart rate.”

Drinking coffee closer to bedtime is particularly unadvisable as it might adversely affect your circadian rhythm, that is to say the time of sleep and wakefulness. Black coffee is believed to stay a long time in our blood stream, up to 10 hours and drinking it late in the afternoon is most likely to keep you awake for long hours if not all night.

The story of coffee continues to be written and adding more excitement and suspense to the initial Kaldi’s tale of discovery. From a simple morning ritual coffee drinking has now become, a huge industry, an object of scientific inquiry and a potent remedy against so many illnesses. In the coming years, coffee is likely to emerge as a solution to many more ailments, and that would be the moment when Kaldi, the shepherd would toss and turn in his grave, not in anger but as an immortal discoverer worthy of a monument in his name.



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