I was under the impression that coffee had been a way of life since at least the greeks, but it is a very recent discovery! (Well, recent as far as history goes)
The act of roasting and brewing coffee is traced back to Arabia in the 15th century CE. Stories date coffee to as early as the 6th century CE, but there is no evidence of its existence until the 15th. The most popular tale states that an Arabian shepherd named Kaldi found his goats “stimulated” after nibbling around a dark green leafed shrub with bright red berries in the heart of the Arabian Peninsula. Kaldi soon determined that it was the bright red berries on the shrub that were causing the peculiar euphoria and after trying the cherries himself, he learned of their powerful effect. The story continues that he then took these berries to his teacher who angerly threw the berries into the fire. This produced an enticing aroma and the beans were quickly taken out of the fire, ground and made into a drink.
While this is a fun tale, there is little evidence that this is exactly what happened. We do know that Yemen is the closest we can come to a birthplace for coffee and it was used in monestaries before spreading to most of the middle east, Italy and the rest of Europe. Imagine the world without coffee. I know to many of us, that is quite a scary thought. But they did get by without it… somehow.
The world of caffeine By Bennett Alan Weinberg, Bonnie K. Bealer