A popular legend has it that an Ethiopian goat herder spied his goats nibbling on some bright berries; not long thereafter, the goats became much more energetic. Sensing there must be more to the simple berries than met his eye, the goat herder thought he’d let his taste buds decide. Soon he too received the same euphoric high his goats did. Bundling up the berries, he headed off to a nearby monastery to share his new discovery. Here the monk was not pleased at all, so much so that he threw the berries into the fire. The alluring aroma that followed was enough to ensure the roasted beans were carefully picked from the embers. Now, here’s where story gets really interesting: the roasted beans were then dissolved in hot water, yielding the world’s first cup of coffee.
There can be no doubt that goats have long enriched our lives, since their domestication around 11,000 years ago. They have featured for time immemorial in our art, folklore and fantasies. And although we may have received coffee and many other benefits from our symbiotic relationship with these gregarious even-toed ungulates—that’s just a fancy word for saying each of their cloven hooves are divided into two ‘toes’—the benefits have not been evenly shared. Continue reading