Google Answers Logo
View Question
Q: How was coffee discovered? ( Answered 5 out of 5 stars,   2 Comments )
Subject: How was coffee discovered?
Category: Family and Home
Asked by: guyh-ga
List Price: $5.00
Posted: 07 Oct 2003 05:01 PDT
Expires: 06 Nov 2003 04:01 PST
Question ID: 263405
How was coffee discovered as a hot drink, and when, and where, and by whom?

Clarification of Question by guyh-ga on 07 Oct 2003 05:03 PDT
The reason I ask because the process of making coffee from raw coffee
beans seems to me to be too involved to have been just serendipity.
Subject: Re: How was coffee discovered?
Answered By: journalist-ga on 07 Oct 2003 06:43 PDT
Rated:5 out of 5 stars
Greetings Guyh:

"The first documented mention of coffee comes in the tenth century
A.D. from an Arabian doctor Rhazes. Ethiopia was the center for the
spread of coffee throughout Africa and into Arabia. It was in Yemen
where the practice of roasting beans began in 1200 A.D. The Muslims
spread the custom of coffee throughout the Islamic world. The first
coffee houses in Europe opened in 1643 in Paris and in 1650 in

And then there is the popular legend:

"According to the Kaldi Coffee Legend, coffee is said to have been
first discovered when a goat-herd in Abysinia, while basking in the
sun, observed his goats dancing on their hind legs after eating some
red berries. He tasted the berries and his sleepy eyes opened. He took
some to the village and everybody also liked it, as it kept them awake
during their prayers."

According to the site referenced above, coffee was discovered in
Ethiopia in the 9th century but there is speculation it may have been
discovered as early as the 6th century:

"...some authorities believe that it was grown initially in Arabia
near the Red Sea around the year 675. Other authorities say that
coffee was discovered in Ethiopia around the year 900. Still others
say that around the year 575, Arab traders took it to the southern tip
of the Arabian peninsula, now known as Yemen, where the cultivation of
coffee began...


On making coffee:
"By the time 900 A.D. arrived Dr. Rhazes of Arabia was writing about
Bunca or  Bunchum, or coffee. Those words show up in literature and
science until in 1300, it is first described as a crush of roasted
berries, ground fine in a mortar and pestle, added to boiling water
and drunk grounds and all. Over the next few centuries a number of
coffee implements were made from earthenware & metal: roasting plates
with small holes, mills, boilers and special coffee drinking cups."


More discovery links: lists these facts at
"One of many legends about the discovery of coffee is that of Kaldi,
an Arab goatherd, who was puzzled by the queer antics of his flock.
About AD 850, Kaldi supposedly sampled the berries of the evergreen
bush on which the goats were feeding..."
More information is available there only through a paid subscription.

"The World Book Encyclopedia says, 'According to legend, coffee was
discovered in Ethiopia when goatherders noticed that their flocks
stayed awake all night after feeding on coffee leaves and berries.' 
Originally, Arabians used coffee for food. Later, it was an ingredient
in wines and medicines."

"There are a number of differing stories as to the origin of coffee
and how it was discovered. One story is that of an exiled Arab Sheik
who saved himself from starvation by making a soup from the berries of
the coffee shrub. The most common is, however, that of Kaldi the
goatherd or shepherd who, in around 600-800 AD, was tending to his
animals on the mountainside one night in Eastern Africa, most likely
modern day Ethiopia, when he noticed that they were acting
This is a comprehensive site for the legend and it is also referenced
in brief at the National Geographic site at

"Myths aside, we can trace the origins of coffee as we know it back to
2000 BC to 850 AD in Ethiopia, where people created a thick mush
consisting of animal fat and coffee. From this concoction, the
Ethiopians later discovered coffee roasting. Since the coffee tree
grew wild only in Ethiopia, a coffee culture wouldn't emerge until the
tree found its way to Yemen in the fourteenth and fifteenth


As far as caffeine being discovered in coffee:
"Caffeine as a substance in coffee was discovered in the late
seventeenth century by Dr. Sylvestre Dufour...The Arabs around 950 AD
soaked green coffee beans in cold water to make the first coffee."


Were I quoting a source, I would choose the first link I provided for
you or the fourth link "On making coffee" since both mention
documentation.  The Kaldi Coffee legend, however, is a delightful
"goat story" and who knows?  Perhaps it is true.  :)

Thank you for the oportunity to answer this interesting question. 
Should you require any clarification of the links or information I
have provided, please request it before rating and closing this
question and I will be happy to respond.

Best regards,


"coffee was discovered in"
Kaldi coffee legend
"discovery of coffee"
Rhazes coffee
guyh-ga rated this answer:5 out of 5 stars
Thanks for your help.

Subject: Re: How was coffee discovered?
From: mvguy-ga on 07 Oct 2003 05:43 PDT
Who knows?  According to this page, the discovery that roasted coffee
beans could be made into a hot drink might have been an accident:
Subject: Re: How was coffee discovered?
From: jackburton-ga on 07 Oct 2003 07:10 PDT
"Coffee was discovered by the Muslims sometime around the 10th
century. It was first used and cultivated in Yemen. Instead of eating
the beans, the Yemenis boiled them creating the famous drink of
Al-Qahwa. There is also consensus that the first users of coffee were
the Sufis who used it as a stimulus to stay awake during late night
Thikr (remembrance of God)."

Important Disclaimer: Answers and comments provided on Google Answers are general information, and are not intended to substitute for informed professional medical, psychiatric, psychological, tax, legal, investment, accounting, or other professional advice. Google does not endorse, and expressly disclaims liability for any product, manufacturer, distributor, service or service provider mentioned or any opinion expressed in answers or comments. Please read carefully the Google Answers Terms of Service.

If you feel that you have found inappropriate content, please let us know by emailing us at with the question ID listed above. Thank you.
Search Google Answers for
Google Answers  

Google Home - Answers FAQ - Terms of Service - Privacy Policy