There’s an intriguing myth that involves a young goat herder named Kaldi in the highlands of Ethiopia in the 9th century.
On an especially hot day, the boy passes out in the heat, giving his animals the opportunity to escape into surrounding bushes and nibble on a strange red cherry-like fruit that hangs from a nearby bush.
Kaldi awakes a while later to find that the goats are more energized and lively than usual. He’s inspired to try the cherries himself, and soon he is just as giddy as his goats.
A passing monk notices their unusual behavior and becomes suspicious. He throws the cherries into a fire to destroy them before realizing that a delicious aroma is wafting from the roasting cherries, which crack open to reveal beans. The monk capitalizes on his discovery, crushing the roasted beans and mixing them with water to create a brand new concoction.
It is an odd story, albeit one with universal implications. After all, this is supposedly how Arabica coffee was born.
It’s not difficult to imagine this scene occurring. Consider the shrubby expanses and rolling hills of Ethiopia’s landscapes and you can almost imagine Kaldi and his goats leaping around, the once-wary monk triumphant from his accidental discovery.
Coffee, myth, and the natural environment are integral facets of life in Ethiopia, a country where communities are built on folklore, and legends, stories, and songs abound. Ethiopians also have a deep appreciation for the earth and the coffee it yields; a colleague recalls how integral coffee culture was to Ethiopian communities she observed, remembering how groups would gather outside, in homes, and at ceremonies to share the drink, luxuriating over a hot cup. As I listen to her stories, I sip my own cup of Ethiopian Arabica Harrar coffee from Nespresso, agreeing that drinking the beverage feels like a ritual.
Just 700 miles southwest of Ethiopia, there is a very different country with a similar connection to myth, tradition, and coffee. Uganda is a vibrant and verdant place of rolling hills, terraced farmlands, sprawling savannahs, and close-knit communities.
In Uganda, familial and neighborly ties are everything. Here too, coffee plays a surprising role.
Tradition dictates that, to ensure a spirit of connection, harmony, friendship, and loyalty between families, a member of each would come together to split a coffee cherry and eat one of the two beans inside. Today, Ugandan communities harvest coffee beans that are then brewed and enjoyed across the world, creating a modern-day link between the communities that cultivate the beans and those who enjoy the drink.
Sitting in a cozy office in New York, it is difficult to imagine the sweeping vistas and immersive sounds of either Ethiopia or Uganda, but a team member, Jessica, who has deep ties to Ethiopia insists these places are must-visits, sharing that her time in Ethiopia was unlike anything she’d experienced — the sights, tradition, and strong spirit of the country readily apparent in the cities and villages she visited.
As I listen to her tell stories about her time in Ethiopia, I realize that there is a link between me and these places; one that I should’ve anticipated.
There are elements of both countries in the cups of coffee that I brew every morning in the office with the touch of a button using our Nespresso VertuoPlus machine. The mug is topped off with crema, and as I sip the two Limited Edition coffees, I can taste hints of ripe fruits and malt from the Ethiopian Arabica sourced from the ancient region of Harrar and the cocoa-rich espresso intensity of the Robusta blend from Uganda.
Each sip reminds me of the treasured tradition of coffee in Ethiopia and Uganda. Each sip also makes me imagine the communities that grow these beans and their connection to Nespresso.
I can’t help but appreciate the tireless work of the two to develop a high quality drink that both honors the time-old traditions in each of the countries and helps establish new ones. This includes working closely with farmers to develop sustainable practices that drive tangible improvements in the social, environmental, and economic conditions they work in, while creating the coffees we love. And, the capsules are 100% recyclable.
It’s a relationship that starts with the coffee bean and ends at a finished cup of the highest quality coffee.
And though I may be nearly 7,000 miles away from the true source of my coffee, with a single sip, I feel connected.
This piece was sponsored by Nespresso. Passion Passport’s news and editorial staff had no role in this post’s preparation.