THE CURIOUS GOAT AND THE WORLD EMPIRE

-What's wrong with you, crazy goats?

Kaldi had fallen half asleep in the meadow and when he looked up he saw that there were only two of his goats. He went to the neighboring meadow and there were the rest, but there was an unusual agitation, the goats were jumping, leaping, running. At first he thought there might be some vermin in the vicinity, lurking, but he decided to observe further.


This was most probably before Minjo founded his kingdom on that land, at the end of the 14th century. A kingdom that lasted until the end of the 19th century, when the last ruler, Gaki Sherocho, was captured and bound with silver chains made from melting down some of his own treasure, which was taken from him.

Sherocho, who was nicknamed 'Chinito', had his crown buried on a hill during the war that led to his final arrest in the belief that, if that crown did not fall into the hands of the enemy, the reign of Kaffa, as his kingdom was called, would continue.





But back to the shepherd, Kaldi, who, who knows, might be lurking in the area where that crown would one day be buried (and discovered, by the way). The shepherd took a close look at some red berries growing in that meadow and decided to taste them, to see if that was the cause of his goats' excitement. After a while, Kaldi was running as fast as the goats and in this manner he reached the village. The imam saw him, the shepherd told him what had happened and thought that those berries would be useful for him to endure the night prayer, so he decided to brew them in an infusion. That is how coffee (from Kaffa, nowadays the name of a region in Ethiopia, formerly Abyssinia) was born.


The story of the shepherd is a legend, but 'se non è vero, è ben trovato', while the theme of the kingdom of Kaffa, the buried crown and the silver chains is a true story.


From this point on, everything extends. Slaves captured in Sudan were sent to Yemen and Arabia through the most important port of the time, Mocha, and these slaves consumed the coffee cherry, the fleshy part, as a stimulant. In fact, coffee consumption was encouraged in Yemen and the Arabs even banned the export of fertile beans. Despite the ban, the Dutch managed to take some (in 1616) and cultivate them on their land in greenhouses. And they themselves took the coffee to India and Batavia on the island of Java, now Indonesia.


It was the skilful Venetian merchants who succeeded in introducing coffee to Europe in the 17th century and this coincided with the arrival of chocolate from America and tea from Asia. The ideal conditions were created to open a coffee house. The first coffee establishment was the Caffè Florian in St. Mark's Square in Venice, which is open to the public today.


And coffee continued to travel.Gabriel Mathieu de Clieu, a French naval officer stationed on the island of Martinique, managed to acquire a coffee plant in Paris. On his return to Martinique, he placed the plant on his ship in a glass urn on deck to keep it warm and safe from salt water. But the ship was chased by Tunisian pirates, then a terrible storm almost caused the ship to sink and the plant had to be moored. Later, an envious crew member wanted to sabotage the plant, but managed to save it even though he lost a branch. And after a few days, the lack of wind even forced the rationing of drinking water, but the officer used a large part of his ration for the coffee plant.


He succeeded, he and the coffee tree survived, and it was planted in Preebear, Martinique, surrounded by a hawthorn net and several slaves in its care. Within 50 years there were 18 million coffee trees in Martinique.


The Dutch, again the Dutch, took it first to Suriname and then to French Guiana, and from there it spread across much of the continent. It was the English who introduced coffee to Jamaica, where the prized Blue Mountain variety is grown.


And some curious goats lead us to a global commodity, which is traded in the major commodity markets.

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