Jon de Vos: Hyper-caffeinatted, hand-jiving goats
December 12, 2008
On a warm afternoon, sometime around the dawn of history, an Ethiopian goat herder fell sound asleep and his goats wandered away. The goats were important to his village and if he returned without them, he would likely be separated from some meaningful portion of his anatomy.
He searched high and low, finally cresting a hill to behold an odd sight. His goats were dancing on their hindquarters in a weird dance, much like an Alvin Ailey Troupe doing the Nutcracker as a break-dance, if you can imagine such a thing. I didn’t think so.
Anyway, the goatherd goes down to see what’s going on and notices that they’re eating little red berries. He wolfs down a handful and pretty soon his leg’s a-thumpin’ and his heart’s a-pumpin’ and the next thing you know he’s doin’ the hand-jive right next to the goats.
An Ethiopian priest walks by. Hearing the party noises, he walks around a hill and is similarly astounded at the barbaric boogie before him. A scholar and a botanist, the priest deduces that the berries are to blame and takes a pocketful back to the monastery. That night he knocked back a couple of the berries and spent the next two days scrubbing the floor of the chapel. That, in a nutshell, is the Ethiopian legend of man’s introduction to coffee.
By 600 AD, coffee as a trade commodity had crossed the Red Sea into Yemen and north into Saudi Arabia. By 1000 AD, coffee, prepared much the way we drink it today, became the beverage of choice in the Muslim world. Muhammad forbade alcohol, and coffee followed Islam as it expanded throughout North Africa, India and the eastern Mediterranean. Some of these folks got so jacked up on the stuff that they started a religion honoring Allah by spinning around in circles for endless hours, calling themselves overcaffeinated (untrue), they’re called Whirling Dervishes (true).
Coffee’s reputation spread beyond the Middle East. Arab merchants happily shipped boiled and roasted seeds around the world but were forbidden under the penalty of death to ship raw beans or cuttings of the plant in order to keep the industry for their own profit and control. In Venice, coffee was sold in pharmacies by prescription only but Christians became alarmed at the mind-altering qualities of caffeine and appealed to Pope Clement VII to ban the beverage, bringing him samples of the devil’s brew.
Turns out, Clem got hooked on the stuff and later became a Barista (untrue). Actually, he strongly embraced the go-juice, deciding what’s good for Islam is good for Christians.
An Indian holy man, Baba Budan, stuffed seven coffee beans into his belly button (true) and stole his way across present day Iran, Pakistan and Afghanistan, finally planting the beans, coincidentally, in the hills of Mysore, India, where the young plants thrived. In just a few years, Baba Budan was selling raw beans and plants to Dutch traders who shipped them to the colonies in Indonesia and Ceylon. Arabia’s stranglehold on the coffee trade was over and all of Europe began to enjoy the best part of waking up.
Today, if mere coffee doesn’t provide enough enthusiasm, Shower Shock Caffeinated Soap might start your morning right. Each four-ounce bar contains 200 milligrams of caffeine per serving, er, shower, absorbed through the skin. Lather up and blast off with a teeth-clenched grin on your face as you run out to the garage, tuck the car under your arm and jog off to work. Caffeinated soap is available at http://www.thinkgeek.com.
Fortunately for locals, we can always hunker down with good friends and great coffee from the Rocky Mountain Roastery in either of the convenient locations in Fraser and Winter Park.
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