Last Time El Salvador Went To The World Cup Ethiopia – A View of Coffee’s Birthplace Through the Looking Glass of Time and Space

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Ethiopia – A View of Coffee’s Birthplace Through the Looking Glass of Time and Space

Ethiopia is considered the birthplace of coffee. Today Ethiopia is what was anciently called “Abyssinia. Abyssinia refers to the Ethiopian Empire that included modern Ethiopia. Coffee trees grew wild and are indigenous to this area. Some experts say that these coffee trees are the only native coffee trees in there the world.

These coffee trees flourished in an area called “Kaffa.” The trees were called “Kafa” which may be the root word for “coffee.” Coffee has long been considered a food. Coffee later became known as a beverage. Coffee is currently the world’s #2 traded commodity after petroleum! The Kaffa kingdom helped promote coffee as a consumable crop. This kingdom dates back to 1400 AD. In fact it still covered 100 x 200 square miles in Ethiopia during the 19th century.

Kaffa is in a rainy, forested highland area near the Omo River which is an ideal environment for guess what? Coffee, of course!

  • Kaffa’s location was important for migratory populations south through the Nile valley. Many of these immigrants settled near the Omo River and called Kaffa “home.” The first known city was called Shadda and dates back to 1500 AD. Kaffa, the capital of Chonga, was also built in 1500 AD.
  • Currently, Shadda and Bonga are two Kaffan cities that are being mined. The Kaffan civilization dates from 1400 AD to 1880 AD. The economy was based mainly on slaves, musk, gold, ivory, spices, coffee and honey. Musk was a substance with a penetrating smell obtained from the gland of the male musk deer.
  • The archaeological excavations continue to reveal evidence of all these sources of trade. The archaeological findings help to confirm how far back the cultivation and use of coffee was in Ethiopian history.

Some of the population groups in Ethiopia include nomadic tribes. For example, the nomadic mountain peoples of the Galla tribe. This tribe has an interesting history.

  • The Galla or “Oromo” (meaning “free men”) is one of the largest ethnic groups in Ethiopia and a small minority in Kenya. In Ethiopia, they are concentrated in the southern provinces with a large presence in Harrar and Central Wollo, both coffee growing regions.
  • The Galla or Oromo people are mainly Christians and enjoy a reputation as freedom lovers and non-conformists of Islamic traditions.
  • Oromo society was traditionally organized according to a social stratification system partly based on an eight-year cycle of age sets.
  • Over the centuries, the age sets grew out of alignment with the actual ages of the members and in the 19th century another age set system was established.
  • This was different from any other groups, possibly because they were immigrants and brought new traditions to Ethiopia.
  • Traditions may have changed but the Galla or Oromo tribe still retain many of their cultural beliefs and practices.

The Galla or Oromo tribe may have been the first to recognize the sustaining effect of coffee as a food additive. They would collect the coffee beans from the trees that grew wild in the area. They would then grind them and mix the ground coffee with animal fat. They would form small food balls to take as portions on journeys. There are also reports of other indigenous tribes of Ethiopia who ate the beans as a type of “hot cereal” or “porridge.” Others fermented the ground coffee beans and prepared a type of wine from it.

It is therefore not surprising that by the 13th century the restorative and medicinal powers of coffee were well known throughout the Islamic world. In fact, coffee was considered a powerful medicine and also a religious drink that helped people stay awake during long prayers. By the end of the 15th century, coffee had spread beyond any imaginable boundaries and the brew became popular among all kinds of people.

So, why not prepare a delicious cup of Ethiopian Longberry Harrar specialty coffee?

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