Why You Should Thank Goats, Smugglers and the Pope for your Morning Coffee
May 05, 20222 min read
On a sunny hillside in 14th Century Ethiopia, one of the most impactful plants to mankind was about to be eaten by a hungry goat. It’s unclear what the exact aftermath was, but an exhausted shepherd to now the world’s most energetic herd stumbled into a monastery and complained to a nearby Abbott about the mysterious plant: a small red bean. We can’t be certain on exactly how coffee spread itself from Ethiopia; although a fair amount of historical guesswork has pointed to a curiously self-experimenting Abbott now able to pray through the night without rest, an intercontinental smuggling ring from the Persian Empire and Pope Clement VIII voting against some Vatican City naysayers to give the newfound beverage known as ‘The Bitter Invention of Satan’ papal approval. After a couple of name changes, the little red bean, or ‘Coffee,’ migrated from theqahveh khaneh houses of the Near East to the Western cities of Austria, France and Germany.
England eventually caught on, and establishments like Lloyd’s and the Turk’s Head became the place to be for stimulating conversation in Victorian London.
Brokers, merchants and stallholders were all welcome, and these Coffee Houses grew in their reputation as occasional hotbeds of dissent, but mostly venues where the strata of society could meet on equal terms to share ideas over a delicious coffee, unless you were a woman. Traditional breakfast beer and wine soon made way for coffee, and miraculously morning productivity, and focus skyrocketed in bustling 18th Century cities, and midday hangovers decreased. New Amsterdam soon discovered the coffee bean, followed by South America. New Amsterdam then had its name changed to New York, before The Now-United States of America came to the abrupt conclusion that coffee was their drink of choice,and dumped their tea into the ocean. Many nautical miles later, after several storms and occasional pirate attacks, the coffee plant was shared across just about every latitude and longitude, and coffee; the Great Connector, was well and truly here to stay. Many years later, men in white coats had a chance to puzzle over why exactly coffee became as popular as it did. It turns out that caffeine, the active compound in coffee - blocks parts of the brain that are usually there to tell the brain when to begin powering down. The result? A burst of energy that can last for hours. Today we use coffee as a tool for increasing our focus and clarity, but it’s steadily remained the common denominator for social gatherings and connectivity. Even decaf has sprung up as a way to enjoy coffee without sending your afternoon into a nervous spiral. In short, over the last 300 years we’ve established that coffee tastes good, lifts your energy and is a better morning ritual than beer, obviously. Perhaps the next time you’re tastefully sipping a glass of Holy Joe on the rocks, remember to thank a hungry African goat.