Click on a label to read posts from that part of the world.
Is This The Tree That Gave Birth To The Multi-Million Dollar Coffee Industry?
But now I was just short of reaching the caffeine-scented Garden of Eden, stuck in an apparent showdown between us and a machete-wielding man.
But for a quick minute I wasn't sure if I was going to make it out of Ethiopia alive. The man with the machete began walking toward our vehicle, a sideward glance in tact, and began talking to the driver in Oromiffa, the language of western Ethiopia. And then suddenly he was in the car with us. His machete still resting on his shoulder, he barked out directions to the driver. A few minutes later, there we were, standing around a 10-foot-high tree, rotting coffee cherry dangling from its limbs, like cotton pills on an old sweater. Jimmy "J.J." Walker, whose real name I would learn was Awol Abagojam, a local coffee farmer, gave a swan-like sweep of his arm and said: "This is it, the first coffee tree."
"But really right here?" I asked. "This very tree?"
Unless this man is to believed, no one really knows where the first coffee tree is, only that coffee supposedly originated from Ethiopia. Which is now shrouded in myth: one day a ninth-century goatherd named Kaldi noticed his goats were "dancing." He remembered that the animals had been munching on the fruit of a tree and so he plucked a few himself and delivered it to the monks of a nearby monastery. It didn't take long for the monks to realize the uplifting power of the fruit. And soon, as the story goes, coffee was born.
I have to admit, it was an underwhelming sight, even if this was the tree that changed what we drink in the morning (and in the afternoon and, when it calls for it, in the evening). I waved goodbye to the friendly farmer with the machete, got back in the car, and headed back to Jimma where I would, naturally, drink more coffee.