Hundreds of years ago, according to a traditional coffee legend, an Abyssinian shepherd tending his goats noticed that they became very playful after feeding on beans from local coffee trees. The shepherd related his story to an abbot from a local monastery who proceeded to boil the beans, and discovered the twofold effect that the resulting liqueur had on him and his monks: it made them more mentally alert, and prevented kept them from nodding off during their long prayerful vigils. The news spread like wildfire and coffee was soon being used in Arab medicine. Coffee beans were either eaten whole, or ground in water, grease or fruit before the year 1000 AD, when they were fermented for the first time into a kind of wine.
Legends apart, we know that African tribes were aware of coffee dating back to very remote times. In fact, they ground the beans into a paste-like substance which they used to feed their animals. This paste was also eaten by warriors in the belief that it charged them with the necessary courage before entering the fray to do battle. Those captured were sent into slavery and taken to Arabia, where their fondness for that odd foodstuff first came to the attention of their Arab enslavers.
It is also interesting to note that these slaves were transported to the Arabian peninsula via the port of Mocha, a name that has stood the test of time, and continues to hold great significance for coffee lovers the world over.
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