No one knows for certain when coffee first became popular, although many assume it was somewhere around the 10th century. Through tales and accounts that have been handed down throughout history, it has been possible to determine a rather hazy period.


The origins of coffee may be traced back to Ethiopia, to the ancestors of the Oromo people, who used the plant’s stimulating characteristics to fuel their lives. While this narrative of coffee is unquestionably true, there is no solid evidence that coffee had any role in Ethiopia, or in Africa in general, until much later – in the seventeenth century.


While the first reference of coffee’s usage in Africa didn’t appear until the seventeenth century, there was evidence of the beverage’s use in other parts of the world considerably earlier than that. As early as the 15th century, historians unearthed evidence that coffee was used in the Sufi monasteries of Yemen, indicating that the beverage had a long history there. 



Almost immediately, coffee started to play an important part in religious groups across the globe, and it eventually became a cornerstone of the Islamic world as a whole. A Sufi mystic, rather than the Oromo forefathers, is widely believed to have discovered the energy-boosting benefits of coffee, a fact that many people believe was discovered by accident.


 The story goes that a Sufi mystic called Ghothul Akbar Nooruddin Abu al-Hasan al-Shadhili, while on a trip to Ethiopia, saw some unusually active birds and brought them to the attention of authorities. 


Following the birds, he noted that they were eating little berries, which turned out to be the fruit of the coffee plant, which he later discovered to be true. Al-Shadhili then experimented with the berries and discovered that he, too, had a sudden rush of energy after consuming them.


There is still another tale about the discovery of the coffee plant, just as there is with most significant discoveries in history. This third origin tale links the discovery of the plant to Omar, a follower of al-Shadhili who was at the time of the discovery. It narrates the narrative of Omar’s banishment to desert caverns near the town of Ousab in this story. 


During his exile, Omar immediately started to suffer from malnutrition. Not until he discovered little berries growing on surrounding bushes that he was able to satisfy his appetite completely. The beans of the coffee plant were discovered to be contained inside these little berries.


When Omar tried them, he discovered that they had a very bitter taste to them, so he roasted them over a fire in an effort to improve the flavor of the vegetables. The beans were inedible after being roasted to the point of becoming hard. He tried boiling them instead after toasting failed. 


Omar drank the coffee drink that emerged from this boiling procedure and reported feeling both invigorated and satisfied afterward. Omar was asked to return to Mocha, where he had been banished, when the revelation of such a miraculous drink made its way to the people of Mocha.
The townsfolk were so taken aback by this new beverage that they declared Omar a saint.