beans of coffeeIn Ethiopian South Western region you find a province named Kafa.

A name that originated from the combined KA (the name of god) and AFA (the name of earth and of all the plants that grow on it). KA AFA means “the earth or plant (plants) of God.”

Both words originate from the hieroglyphic alphabet which was the script for the old black Kamitic or black Egyptian language.

AFA or AF meaning “earth and land” RA meaning “sun and sun king” and KA meaning “god”, later came to form the name for AF-RA-KA or AFRIKA, meaning “earth of sun king and god”.

The word KOFFEE or COFFEE is therefore very likely to have been derived from the original KA-AFA, combined meaning “the land or plant of God”.

Ethiopia is the home of Coffee Arabica and center of its origin and diversity. It is a country that has given the world both the seed and the cup.

The species name Arabica was wrongly given to C. Arabica by Carlos Linnaeus, a naturalist who first described this species in a small garden in Yemen. In fact, he would have named it coffee Abyssinica if he had crossed the Red Sea and proceeded with south western Ethiopia.

A legend going as far back as 1445 of the Gregorian Calendar has it that “a young Abyssinian goatherd, named Kaldi in oriental literature, noticed to his amazement, that after chewing the bright red berries from a tree, his goats pranced in an unusually frisky manner. He too tried the berry and enjoyed its stimulating effect.

A monk from the neighboring monastery who found Kaldi in this invigorated state, decided to try the berry with his friars. They all felt alert during their night prayers. Soon, the news spread and all the monks of the realm were chewing the berry before their night prayer”.

It is also believed that a formal way of drinking coffee might have started in Harer, Ethiopia. Later on the practice spread to the Middle-East and south East-Asia. Subsequently, Constantinople served as a land bridge to Europe for spread of the raw and ground coffee to Europe.

Ethiopia possesses one of the largest and most complex self perpetuating eco systems, comprising the most diverse and varied plant species.

The presence of a wide ethnic based cultural practices in the coffee growing areas, demonstrates that the country is the primary ground of tamed coffee with different production systems, forest, cottage and plantation coffee.

Most of the eighteens century travelers in Ethiopia noticed the abundance of coffee in certain parts of the country.

In his report following the three year exploration of Ethiopia (1839 – 1843) Theophile Lefebvre relates “every one knows that Abyssinia is the true homeland of coffee which was transplanted in Arabia, late in time, and become naturalized”.

Major W.C. Harris (1844) relates that “coffee is produced in immense quantities of the ethiopian coffee traditionfinest quality, and tradition points to this country as the first residence of the plant.”  C.F, Ray in 1924, went further “There is of course no reason why coffee should not do extremely well in Abyssinia, for the plant is indigenous to the country.”

Not only the coffee plant, the coffee beans and the grounded coffee powder itself, but the young girl or lady of the house who makes the coffee together with the objects used in the making of coffee are looked upon with a degree of respect during the coffee ceremony.

What about yourself, come and taste Ethiopian coffee and have your say. If you want me to recommend you best places for coffee in Addis, try Tomoka, near Piazza area or Kaldi’s coffee almost every where in Addis and Yeshi Buna among others.

Eskinder Hailu - Manager, Highway Tours

Eskinder Hailu
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