There are a number of differing stories as to the origin of coffee and how it was discovered. One story is that of an exiled Arab Sheik who saved himself from starvation by making a soup from the berries of the coffee shrub. The most common is, however, that of Kaldi the goatherd or shepherd who, in around 600-800 AD, was tending to his animals on the mountainside one night in Eastern Africa, most likely modern day Ethiopia, when he noticed that they were acting strangely. On investigating this he realised that they had been eating the cherry-red berries of a nearby shrub. As a result of this they remained awake, jumping and leaping around the whole night - even the older goats. Curious, the goat herder picked some and tasted them himself. He found that they invigorated him and made him more wide awake.

It was about this time that a monk called Chadely or Scyadly from a nearby monastery was passing. The goatsherd told him about the goats and he demanded to be shown this plant. Kaldi showed the monk a pretty little shrub with a greyish bark and brilliant foliage, the slender branches of which, at the base of their leaves, had bunches of small white flowers mingles with clusters of small berries, some green, riper ones a clear yellow colour and yet others, which had reached complete maturity, of the size, shape and colour of a cherry. It was the coffee shrub.

The monk, wishing to try the effects of these berries, crushed a few into a powder and poured boiling water over them to make a drink. This was the first cup of coffee - it was not until much later, however, that coffee was first roasted. Impressed with the results of the drink in making him wider awake and yet not affecting his intellectual capabilities, the monk took the new discovery back to his monastery realising that it would help him and his fellow monks stay awake during their long hours of prayer. Coffee soon spread from monastery to monastery and, therefore, became in much demand with devout Muslims, believing it to be a divine gift brought by an angel from heaven to the faithful.

And so coffee had been discovered. In the centuries that followed, the people of this land absorbed coffee into their culture and daily routine. It was not, however, until later that coffee was discovered by the outside world.