The story of coffee has its beginnings in Ethiopia , the original home of the coffee plant, coffee arabica, which still grows wild in the forest of the highlands. While nobody is sure exactly how coffee was originally discovered as a beverage, it is believed that its cultivation and use began as early as the 9th century. Some authorities claim that it was cultivated in the Yemen earlier, around AD 575. The only thing that seems certain is that it originated in Ethiopia , from where it traveled to the Yemen about 600 years ago, and from Arabia it began its journey around the world.
Among the many legends that have developed concerning the origin of coffee, one of the most popular account is that of Kaldi, an Abyssinian goatherd, who lived around AD 850. One day he observed his goats behaving in abnormally exuberant manner, skipping, rearing on their hindlegs and bleating loudly. He noticed they were eating the bright red berries that grew on the green bushes nearby.
Kaldi tried a few himself, ad soon felt a novel sense of elation. He filled his pockets with the berries and ran home to announce his discovery to his wife. They are heaven-sent, she declared. You must take them to the Monks in the monastery.
Kaldi presented the chief Monk with a handful of berries and related his discovery of their miraculous effect. Devils work! exclaimed the monk, and hurled the berries in the fire.
Within minutes the monastery filled with the heavenly aroma of roasting beans, and the other monks gathered to investigate. The beans were raked from the fire and crushed to extinguish the embers. The Monk ordered the grains to be placed in the ewer and covered with hot water to preserve their goodness. That night the monks sat up drinking the rich and fragrant brew, and from that day vowed they would drink it daily to keep them awake during their long, nocturnal devotions.
Traditional accompaniments are popcorn, also roasted on the fire, and the coffee is sugared to be drunk from small handless cups. Selamta, The In-Flight Magazine of ETHIOPIAN AIRLINES
Volume 13, Number 2
April - June 1996, http://www.ethiopianrestaurant.com/kaffa.html