By: Matthew Sprosty
Have we discussed the rules to reading this blog?
There’s really only one— you must have a warm (or ice cold) cup of coffee (preferably Odd Dog brand) somewhere within arm’s length. That’s it. That’s all folks. Much like Romance Novels must only be consumed with red wine and a crackling fire, the Odd Dog Blog (which, I just noticed, rhymes) can only be appreciated with the sweet, delicious coffee berry-derived liquid slapping at your tongue, warming (or cooling) your throat, filling your stomach, and revving your engine for the day.
Coffee is a fine beverage developed by roasting coffee beans, which are the seeds of these little red berries that grow on shrubs. Nobody can necessarily agree when coffee was first discovered, but I have always enjoyed the tale of the 9th century Ethiopian goat-herder named Kaldi who noticed his goats flipping out one day after eating the coffee berries. Noticing their energy, Kaldi, wanting this energy himself (as I think this is why we all put the mildly acidic liquid to our lips the first time) also chewed on the beans, and felt the effects. So excited, Kaldi picked a basket full and took the berries to an Islamic monk in a Sufi monastery.
From what I know of monks (and I’ll be honest, very little, and even less, do I know of Islamic monks) but I don’t think if I found a berry that produced high octane energy, would I go to the closest practicing monk I could find. An athlete? Sure. Maybe a guardsman? Even better. A man who lives a life of prayer and servitude to one true God? Maybe shouldn’t be dancing around like a Irish dancing goat. But, this is what Kaldi did, and the monk was so appreciative, he took the gift of the berries, and he threw them into the fire. Yep, this monk (which I’m just now noticing, if you add an “-ey”, becomes a type of animal) wasn’t having any of these magic beans.
The monk scolded Kaldi for thinking he needed an outside influence to have energy. But, something begins rising from the fire. Both Kaldi and the monk smelled a glorious smell emanating from the flames, and they quickly acted to rake up the roasted beans, crush them up, and pour water over them, creating (according to legend) the world’s first cup of coffee. All thanks to a boy named Kaldi and his dancing goats.
The monk then took this creation back to his Sufi monastery where it seems that all of the monks were having trouble staying awake during their evening prayers. Because nothing this great could be kept a secret, knowledge of these magic beans spread across the Arabian Peninsula. By the 15th Century, coffee was being cultivated in the Yemeni District and a hundred years later, it could be found in Turkey, Egypt, Syria, and Persia thanks to Somali merchants from Berbera who were the main exporters from the coffee hub in Mocha.
The legend of Kaldi is perhaps just a story, first told in writing in 1651, a mere 700 years after it supposedly took place, but all legends come from some truth. What we can prove of his story is that coffee was used primarily at its time of invention as a way for practicers of faith to focus and stay awake during their nightly devotions to God.
Which is funny, because now during the opposite time of day, every early morning I have, I wake up and also thank God for coffee.