International Kaffa Event (also known as International Coffee Event) Begins in Addis Ababa Today
As most of you already know the episodes leading up to the International Coffee event that will be held in Addis Ababa today and tomorrow have been very controversial. An attempt to steal our history and heritage had sent hundreds of thousands of people into a week long demonstration in Bonga and elsewhere in the country and the world.
After the demonstrations have ended our brothers and sisters in Bonga, addis and some overseas had been in touch and sharing ideas in making our appearance at the international Coffee Event to be Successful. Our people have worked hard in reserving a space for exhibition and prepared themselves to present to the global audience about the original home of coffee, Kaffa and its deep rooted coffee culture.
We will be closely following the events of today and tomorrow to make sure our people are treated fair and with respect and that they are able to speak and demonstrate at their exhibition desks without restriction and intimidation about Kaffa as a land of origin of coffee within Ethiopia.
In preparation for this two day event and to help with the preparation of a brochure that can be distributed to the foreign participants at the event, we have prepared the below article in the English language about Kaffa and Coffee and wanted to share it here on Kaffa Media with our audience. The article follows below:
It’s In The Name! Coffee is from Kaffa: A Southwestern Region of Ethiopia.
Coffee is the second most popular beverage in the world next to tea. It’s consumed by people across the world. According to the website of world’s top exporters, the United States, Germany and France are the three top buyers of coffee. According to The Telegraph of UK, the north European nations of Finland, Norway, and Iceland are the three top drinkers of coffee averaging 10 Kgs per capita per year.
Where did coffee originate? How did it travel across the globe? What are its social, cultural and economic contributions?
The Origin of Coffee
Coffee was first discovered in Ethiopia; in the southwestern region of Kaffa (currently known as Kaffa Zone). Within the Kaffa zone, the Makira village and a specific community within Makira named Buno is believed to be where the coffee plant was first discovered. There exist strong indicators; several studies and historical documents confirming Kaffa as the original home of coffee within Ethiopia.
There are many clear indicators why Kaffa is the original home of coffee; few of them are listed here:
1. It’s in The Name. The names Kaffa and Coffee are inseparable. The resemblance between the two names is one of the strongest indicators that Kaffa is the original home of coffee. Coffee took its name from Kaffa and its pronounciation became adapted into many languages and dialects of the world while still maintaining resemblance in sound to the name Kaffa. To support this statement, let’s take a look at pronunciation of coffee in only a few of the global languages.
Afrikaans: koffie, Arabic: qahua, Albanian: kafe, Azerbajan: Qəhvə, Bangala: Kaphi, Basque: Kafea, Belarusian: kava, Dutch: Koffie, French: café, German: Kaffee, Greek: Kafés, Italian: caffè, Swedish: Kaffe, Norwegian: Kaffe, Finish: kahvi, Turkish: Kahve, Chinese: Kāfēi, Hindi: kofee.
While coffee is pronounced in a variety of sounds resembling Kaffa in many of the world’s languages, the Ethiopian languages refer to the name coffee as Buna (in Amharic), Bun (in Oromo), etc… referring to the name of the specific community of Buno in Kaffa Makira where coffee is believed to have originated.
2. Max Gruhl, a german writer and social science researcher who visited Ethiopia in the early 1900s had written about Kaffa and stated the relationship between the names coffee and Kaffa. “The name of this African country is nevertheless, on the lips of many everyday of the year, sice a great part of a population of the world drinks a juice extracted from the berry plant which originally grew in Kaffa – coffee. Coffee has been in Kaffa since the dawn of history and it was from kaffa that in early time the use of the extract of the “Kaffa bean” spread over the entire Ethiopian Highlands. It also gradually spread throughout the entire world in the 9th century A.D its use came to be known to the persians.” (Max Gruhl, The Citadel of Ethiopia, the empire of the divine emperor, 1932, page 169).
3. Werner Lange, a German writer states that “As observed by a Scottish traveler James Bruce (1730 – 1794), it is evident that Kaffa is the original home of coffee. Prior to the invasion of King Menelik, and its integration into the current day Ethiopia, Kaffa was the main coffee producer in Africa. Kaffa exported 350,000 kilograms of coffee every year.” (Werner Lange, Dialects of Divine, Kingship in the Kaffa Highlands, 1976 page 😎.
4. In 2010, the UNESCO organization designated Kaffa as original home of the Arabica coffee. Below is an excerpt from the document published by UNESCO on their web address: ( http://www.unesco.org/…/biosphere-res…/africa/ethiopia/kafa/ )
The Kafa Biosphere Reserve is located in the Kafa Zone of Ethiopia approximately 460 km southwest of Addis Abba. The Bonga National Forest Priority Area (NFPA) partly forms the southern boundary of the Biosphere Reserve, whilst the eastern boundary follows the Adiyo Woreda with the Gojeb River and Gewata-Yeba (Boginda) NFPA forming the northern boundary. Kafa Biosphere Reserve in Ethiopia is the birthplace of wild Arabica coffee and contains close to 5,000 wild varieties of the plant in this biodiversity hotspot.
Designation Date: 2010
Administrative authorities: Kafa Zone Administration, in association with Chena Woreda, Decha Woreda, Gimbo, Woreda, Gewata Woreda, Adiyo Woreda, Bita Woreda, Bonga Town Administration Guanica
Surface area (terrestrial and marine): 540,631.10 ha
Core area(s): 41,319.10 ha
Buffer zone(s): 161,427 ha
Transition area(s): 337,885 ha
Midpoint: 7°22’14″N – 36°03’22″E
5. At the turn of the century, the Ethiopian Federal Government has recognized the Kaffa Region (the current Kaffa Zone) as the original home of the coffee plant within Ethiopia. As a result, a federal government project was initiated to build the National Coffee Museum in the city of Bonga, the regional capital of Kaffa. The National Museum Project has been completed and is currently in preparation to welcome the national and international visitors, as well as to host national and international coffee events.
Mother Coffee Tree in Kaffa Makra, Buno Community
In the Buno community of the Makira village in Kaffa, we have what is known as a Mother Coffee Tree. This is a very unique coffee plant that has grown into a huge tree over many years. Although there is no information about the date of its origin, its generally believed the Mother Coffee Plant has been around for hundreds of years and is perhaps the oldest coffee plant.
The Spread of Coffee out of Kaffa to the rest of the World
Once its benefit as a stimulant and as medicinal plant has become widely recognized within Kaffa, the Kings of the Kaffa Kingdom had instructed their officials to guard the coffee plant and its seed from smugglers. If caught while attempting to smuggle coffee, the smugglers were to face the most severe punishment of the land. It was an Arab merchant who took an enormous risk and smuggled the coffee into the Arab world and introduced it to Yemen (Max Gruhl, 1932, page 172). From Yemen, the European colonial powers of the time: The Dutch, Portuguese and Spanish had spread it throughout the world.
Benefits of Coffee and its impact on the culture of Kaffa and Ethiopia.
In a social arena, the coffee culture has helped to bring people together. People who live in the same neighbourhood share coffee in the morning, noon or evening thus staying in close community. This helps people to get to know each other, to think of each other and help each other. It also creates an opportunity to resolve conflicts that may occur between individuals within the community through dialogue and discussions over a coffee ceremony. In Kaffa, every invitation to one’s home is extended by asking “please come have some coffee”. No invitation whether for lunch or dinner is complete without coffee. In Kaffa one of the main criteria in asking a young woman for marriage is her skills in preparing a good coffee. Coffee is used everywhere. People bring coffee to comfort those who are sad from death in the family. Its served before meal when guests come into the home.
In Kaffa, Coffee is also known to have a number of health benefits. People have used ground coffee over their wound and it helps dry up and close the wound. The people of Kaffa believe that eating ground coffee mixed with honey can help with blood circulation.
In terms of its economic benefits, coffee holds the 1st place as an export item generating largest share of the country’s foreign exchange. 60% of Ethiopia’s export is coffee.
After Coffee has spread out of Kaffa and Ethiopia into the world, what are the factors contributing to the growth in production?
Starting in the early 17th century, the coffee plant has been spread into many parts of the world with the help of the European colonial powers. At the same time some of the bars in Europe had started serving coffee. Its use in the hotels has been greatly pronounced in Ethiopia that until this day hotels are referred to as the Coffee House (or Buna Bet in the amharic language) in Ethiopia.
Major factors contributing to the growth of the coffee production were the colonial economic policies of Spain and Portugal. Spain and Portugal promoted mono-cultural economic policy where they force their colonies to specialize on a certain crop or product. For example Brazil, which used to be a Portuguese colony, holds the first place in Coffee production in south America. Angola, another Portuguese colony in Africa used to be one of the top coffee producers. Spanish colony, Cuba, held a top spot for sugar production. Today the top five coffee producers of the world are: Brazil, Vietnam, Colombia, Indonesia, and Ethiopia.
There are two varieties / categories of cofee in the world. These are Arabica and Robusta. The variety of coffee that originated from Kaffa, Ethiopia is the Arabica variety. Arabica is the most desired and most used variety of coffee.
Love of Coffee
Given a choice between coffee and a meal, a person of Kaffa origin would prefer to be served coffee instead of meal. Because of his / her love for coffee a person of Kaffa origin, carries a ground coffee on his journey. The coffee can be boiled and consumed wherever the traveller end up spending the night at some place or someone’s home along his travel path..
By Amanuel Karlo Gano
ካፋ ሚድያ Kaffamedia.