According to a coffee history legend, an Arabian shepherd named Kaldi found his goats dancing joyously around a dark green leafed shrub with bright red cherries in the southern tip of the Arabian Peninsula. Kaldi soon determined that it was the bright red cherries on the shrub that were causing the peculiar euphoria.

After trying the cherries himself, he learned of their powerful stimulating effect and it was then exploited by monks at a local monastery to stay awake during extended hours of prayer. Soon after that, the monks began to distribute the coffee cherries to other monasteries around the world and coffee was born.

Despite the appeal of such a legend, recent botanical evidence suggests a different coffee bean origin. This evidence indicates that the history of the coffee bean began on the plateaus of central Ethiopia and the beans were somehow brought to Yemen, where it was cultivated since the 6th century. Upon introduction of the first coffee houses in Cairo and Mecca, coffee became a passion rather than just a stimulant.

The earliest credible evidence of either coffee drinking or knowledge of the coffee tree appears in the middle of the 15th century, in the Sufi monasteries of Yemen. It was in Arabia that coffee beans were first roasted and brewed, similar to modern preparation. By the 16th century, it had reached the rest of the Middle East, Persia, Turkey, and northern Africa. Coffee then spread to Italy, and to the rest of Europe, to Indonesia, and to the Americas.