Legend of the Wandering Goats

A popular Arab and Ethiopian legend tells of a troubled young goat herder named Kaldi and his herd of mischievous goats.

One morning, Kaldi noticed that some members of his herd had wandered off, much to his dismay. He scanned the hillside, to no avail. He set off down the hills to begin the search. As he began to look for his missing goats, he found himself at the edge of a nearby forest. Hesitantly, Kaldi ventured deeper into the forest and came upon a trail. Kaldi followed the trail and he came at last to the hiding place of his rebellious goats. What he found there was quite a surprise.

The goats were dancing beneath the forest canopy. At first Kaldi thought that the goats must be bewitched! He turned to run for the village imam, or holy man. He then noticed that some of the goats were munching on the leaves and red cherries of a mysterious tree. It must be the trees that had maddened his goats! Hesitantly, young Kaldi approached the tree and plucked a cherry. He sniffed and cautiously brought the cherry to his mouth. He bit in. Mildly sweet, Kaldi thought this was no poison, and as the goats seemed to be in fine form… He popped a few of the cherries into his mouth. Soon, his body began to tingle and the next thing he knew he was dancing merrily alongside his goats.

Exhilarated, he hastily collected some cherries and brought them to the village imam. After hearing Kaldi’s tale, the imam wanted to try an experiment. He placed the cherries into a pot and boiled them in water. He brought the brew to his lips and drank. Upon drinking the concoction, the monk became alert and lively. So much so that remaining attentive throughout evening prayers was uncharacteristically effortless. An idea occurred to him. He decided to share the brew with his fellow monks who were having similar trouble maintaining alertness at the evening prayers.

The potion was so effective that it quickly gained in popularity among the monks. Their new found zest for their duties did not go unnoticed and word soon spread to the nearby villages. The mysterious bean infusion earned such a reputation that its use rapidly became popular amongst the villagers and the tales of Kaldi and his wandering goats stretched across the land and beyond.

And so, it is told, began the legacy of the magical coffee bean.