Tuesday, March 10, 2009

The Muslims and the dancing goats

When the alarm goes off in the morning, most of us stumble into the kitchen, and eagerly await the fragrant smell of that morning cup of “Joe” that will help us to get the blood flowing in our veins again.

For starters, most people don’t know where the term “cup of Joe” comes from. Although there are a variety of explanations on line, the most accurate description (found on the Urban Legends website) is that coffee was simply “the stuff that fuels the common man”, who is usually known as “the average Joe”.

Very few people are aware of the fact that if it weren’t for the Muslims, and the dancing goats, we wouldn’t have any coffee at all.

Coffee use can be traced at least to as early as the ninth century, when it appeared in the highlands of Ethiopia . According to legend, Ethiopian shepherds were the first to observe the influence of the caffeine in coffee beans when the goats appeared to "dance" and to have an increased level of energy after consuming wild coffee berries.

From Ethiopia, coffee spread to Egypt and Yemen. It was in Arabia that coffee beans were first roasted and brewed, similar to how it is done today. By the 15th century, it had reached the rest of the Middle East, Persia, Turkey, and northern Africa.

Coffee has played an important role in many societies throughout modern history. In Africa and Yemen, it was used in religious ceremonies. As a result, the Ethiopian Church banned its secular consumption until the reign of Emperor Menelik II of Ethiopia.

It was banned in Ottoman Turkey in the 17th century for political reasons, and was associated with rebellious political activities in Europe.

From the Muslim world, coffee spread to Italy. The thriving trade between Venice and North Africa, Egypt, and the Middle East brought many goods, including coffee, to the Venetian port. From Venice, it was introduced to the rest of Europe. Coffee became more widely accepted after it was deemed a Christian beverage by Pope Clement VIII in 1600, despite appeals to ban the "Muslim drink."

There have been a lot of studies conducted about the health aspects of coffee, but the one stated below should give you some pause:

Over 1,000 chemicals have been reported in roasted coffee; more than half of those tested are rodent carcinogens

If you’re environmentally sensitive, you should be aware of the fact that it takes about 140 liters of water to grow the coffee beans needed to produce one cup of coffee, and the coffee is often grown in countries where there is a water shortage, such as Ethiopia

Although Ethiopia, the original producer of coffee, is still in the top ten in terms of coffee production, the leading countries are now:

(1) Brazil
(2) Indonesia (the most populous Muslim country in the world)
(3) Vietnam (our former enemy)

If you are concerned about the purity of the soil in your back yard garden, you should consider these facts about Vietnam:

(1) During Rolling Thunder, which lasted from March 2, 1965 until November 1, 1968, our government dropped 864,000 tons of bombs on North Vietnam.
(2) During the Vietnam War (which ran from 1959 until 1975) , the United States dropped 21 million gallons of Agent Orange (a defoliant) on Vietnam
(3) Although Robert Duval (in “Apocalypse Now”) said that he loved the smell of napalm in the morning, Kim Phuc would likely hold an opposing position, since she became the most visible "burn victim" of the Vietnam War.

Indonesia and Vietnam (the #2 and #3 producers of coffee in the world) also produce the most expensive coffee in the world.

Kopi Luwak, a product of Indonesia, can cost as much as $600 a pound. It is “produced” when civets “pass undigested coffee bans through their digestive tracts”. In Vietnam, the product is called “weasel coffee” because it is regurgitated by weasels.

expensive coffee

When I was in the National Guard in the early 1970’s, I often thought that the coffee tasted like (um) well, you know. I guess we’ve somehow come “full circle”.

If you were a fan of the late Paul Harvey, and would like to read “the rest of the story” just click on the link attached below:


Tomorrow morning, when you have your morning cup of coffee, give thanks to Allah, because without the Muslims, your morning coffee experience would be a whole lot different.



  1. I had a really thick cup of coffee, and a hearty handshake from the owner of the shop, in a bedouin town southeast of Haifa.

  2. Way to go on the blog layout and use of media!