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In honor of National Coffee Day, companies around the country offer cheap deals, but the story of Ethiopia as the birthplace of coffee presents a much richer picture than America’s commercialized holiday.
According to a famous legend, a young Ethiopian goat herder named Kaldi discovered his herd acting strangely one day. Realizing they’d eaten a red coffee berry that made them more alert and awake longer, Kaldi brought the berries to a local abbot of a monastery.
After mixing the berries into a drink, they learned it kept them awake through long hours of prayer. Thus, coffee was born.
However, according to the organization Texas Coffee Traders, it’s more likely that the nomadic Oromo tribe of East Africa was the first to cultivate the plant. Notably, Ethiopia is the only place where the plant grows wild.
Ethiopia or Yemen: the origins of coffee cultivation
Meanwhile, yet another legend tells that Yemen established coffee cultivation in the 15th century.
“By the 15th century, coffee was being grown in the Yemeni district of Arabia and by the 16th century it was known in Persia, Egypt, Syria, and Turkey,” according to the National Coffee Association.
A century later, coffee beans were being grounded in Europe as the latest drink to replace beer and wine in the morning.
Today, Ethiopia is the seventh largest producer of coffee and the largest producer from Africa. Ethiopian coffee beans remain beloved around the world.
From Ethiopia to Black Wall Street
Ultimately, the story of coffee eventually made its way from the fields of Ethiopia to the storefront of a business on Black Wall Street.
As the only Black-owned bookstore and coffee shop owner, Onikah Asamoa-Caesar has reason to celebrate. She recently expanded Fulton Street Books and Coffee to a second location inside the Tulsa International Airport.
This fall, her original storefront will move to the most famous road in Black America.
“Moving to 21 Greenwood and being able to call Black Wall Street our home is a dream,” Asamoa-Caesar told The Black Wall St. Times. “Literacy is a part of our legacy, as as Tulsa’s only Black-owned bookstore, we are excited to being that to the heart of Tulsa.”