Kafa – the birthplace of coffee

10.06.2008 // Few people know that the origin of coffee is from the western part of Ethiopia . One can still see wild coffee growing in the fertile forests in many parts of the region. Jimma is the capital of the old province of Kafa and it remains the most important coffe collecting centre in Ethiopia .

Kafa region is like a kind of Garden of Eden with its gentle, rolling hills and valleys. It is so fertile and green that you hardly believe that it’s a part of Ethiopia. The altitude is between 1300m and 2100m and the region provides the perfect conditions for growing coffee. Coffee was first consumed in Ethiopia as early as AD 1000, and it is believed that coffee was introduced into Yemen from the 14th century spreading to the Middle East and the rest of the world soon afterwards.


According to a local legend, coffee was discovered by accident. Kaldi, a young goatherd from Kafa, noticed one day that his goats became even more troublesome than usual after grazing on certain berries. When he tried himself, he began to empathise with his excited charges. Later, a monk came across the merry band, joined them and discovered that the useful little berries also stopped him nodding off over his sacred texts during night. The word got around the monastery and soon all the priests and monks in Ethiopia were chewing away.


For many centuries after its discovery, coffee was chewed and not drunk. Curiously, in some areas of Ethiopia, the tradition continues to this day. In parts of Kafa and Sidamo, coffee is crushed then mixed with ghee (Ethiopian butter). It was not until the 13th century that the hot drink was introduced. Today, Ethiopian coffee is ranked among the very best coffees in the world and it is appreciated in a number of countries outside Ethiopia.

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