Coffee And The Various Legends On Its Origin

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by Martina Meneghetti (edited by Lynne Hand)

I love coffee; this could be the title of the next best seller for all employees. We spend hours waiting for the beloved coffee-break, to relax and energise us. But do you know where it comes from? There are a lot of legends about  the creation of this miraculous beverage.

The most well-known is probably the one coming from the Chehodet monastery in Yemen. The legend tells that monks, having learned from a shepherd that if his goats ate certain berries, they were lively even at night, decided to prepare a beverage using these berries, and they  enabled them to stay awake the whole night. Another legend is about Mohammad, who when he was feeling ill, received a visit from the Archangel Gabriel, who had been sent by Allah with a miraculous beverage. The beverage was dark as the Sacred Black Stone of Mecca, commonly called “qawa”. Mohammed drank it, and was revived.

Maybe for us the coffee from the drinks dispenser does not have the same miraculous effect, but it can certainly give us the energy for hours of tough work.

The most famous story tells, however, that in Arabia a shepherd named Kaddi was appalled when he noticed that after eating the berries of a plant, his goats showed signed of excitement. The shepherd, was unable to explain what had happened, and so he explained the problem to the old Abbot Yahia. The abbot, sensing the properties of the plant, created a bitter drink, that warmed the body and could invigorate it, freeing it from sleep and tiredness. It is exactly the same drink that we can taste every day in the office today.

A similar legend says, that coffee was discovered by an Imam in an Arabic monastery; the Imam prepared a decoction and let all the monks taste it, and the monks stayed awake without problems all night long.

Another similar story says that an Arabic monk, the sheikh Ali ben Omar, was accompanying his master Schadeli to Moka, but his master died during the journey.  He was all alone when an angel appeared, and encouraged him to continue toward the city where a terrible plague was raging.  Here, with his prayers to Allah, he was able to heal many sick people and even the daughter of the King, who he fell in love with. But the King decided to exile him, and the monk, was obliged to live in the lonely mountains.  He was hungry and thirsty, so he prayed for help.  A wonderful bird with coloured feathers and an enchanting song appeared, and Omar was attracted by the melodious singing, he  admired the bird and followed its song and suddenly he saw the bird was sitting in a tree covered with white flowers and red fruit: the coffee plant. He took some berries and made a decoction which had such great health virtues that he often offered it to pilgrims who came to his shelter.  When the news spread of the magical quality of the drink, Omar was welcomed back to the kingdom with great honour.

Coffee is a beverage with an ancient and enchanting past, and it has not lost its fascination even if now we can find it everywhere. Coffee is still an inseparable companion of our days, with priceless virtues that make it irreplaceable.


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