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Home Country

By Slim Randles

“Ahhh! Coffee!” said our resident cowboy, Steve, raising his cup at the philosophy counter. “Let’s raise our cups to whichever Brazilian came up with this stuff.”

Very slowly, Herb Collins stood with his cup of coffee there in the midst of culture and education at the Mule Barn truck stop.

“Actually, Steve,” Herb said, in his most professorial tone, “his name was Kaldi. He lived in Ethiopia.”
And here Herb grinned fiendlishly at Steve. “And he was a sheepherder!”
“No way, Herb!”

“The truth, cowboy, nothing but the truth. In fact, it wasn’t so much Kaldi doing anything, it was his sheep. You see…” (and he turned to face the tables and booths to find he held a rapt audience) “… ol’
Kaldi had noticed his sheep munching these red berries and going kinda hyper all over the place, looking for a lion to whip or something. Well, Kaldi knew that hyper sheep were too busy running around eating the plants flat to the ground to be putting on any mutton, so he decided to investigate.

He chewed some of these berries himself and beat the sheep back to the ol’ Mutton Mansion. He made a couple of laps around the house and said ‘Man, I just can’t live without my coffee!’
“Now that was about 1000 A.D., you know. The word got out, and people started up their drip machines, and morning stopped being such a dirty word.

Of course, as with anything good, there are always party poopers who want it stopped. And so it came to pass with coffee. Six hundred years after Kaldi’s sheep, a bunch of Christians (obviously on decaf) petitioned Pope Clement VIII to ban coffee, believing anything that made mornings pleasant must be the devil’s drink. Being a fair-minded guy, the Pope didn’t want to do that without giving it a try first, so he had some cardinal whip up a batch and he sucked it down. Well, he gave the drink his blessing, said it was an official Christian beverage, had a mug made with ‘Clem’ on it, and hung it over the sink.

“Here’s to coffee!” Herb said to the audience, “The choice of sheepherders everywhere!”
Where does he get these things?

Brought to you by “Stories from History’s Dust Bin,” by award-winning author Wayne Winterton.  Available from all online booksellers.