Back to the Grind

Writer: Nicole Haddad


Making my way to university after a long break, I noticed that the world around me was dull. It bellowed with dullness and I responded with the decision to colour it. How else but to start with a coffee? I made my way through campus to the Reading Room Café.

“A cappuccino with two sugars, please.” I said.

I handed the due amount to the smiling waitress, and made my way to the back of the café. A fresh summer breeze rolled in through the open glass-accordion doors. For a moment I reveled in the breeze, considering I would not feel it for another five hours whilst in class.

The café was rather busy; I reached into my pocket searching for my phone. I opened the internet browser, and tapped on the address bar. I watched the cursor blink and wondered what to type. I’ve always been a fan of all things interesting, quirky, and seldom heard of, so whilst waiting, I decided to dip myself into the glorious realm of the origin of most students’ saviour: coffee, and I discovered we have one man and his goats to thank for it.

From ninth century Ethiopia emerged our somewhat unsung and rather fictional hero, Kaldi, tending to his goats. This brave, young goat-herder gazed as they grazed, and came to the conclusion that his little minions would not do much else. And so he decided that since his goats could not entertain him, it was time for him to entertain them. He reached into his satchel and grabbed his wooden pipe. He pressed it to his mouth and blew. He fell into a musical trance and he didn’t notice that his goats had wandered off.

Kaldi had fallen asleep whilst caring for his goats before, and  they had proved their loyalty to him by returning, so he didn’t think that his goats would stray. Alas, it just so happened that in those few minutes of fluttering serenity, he completely lost his goats. His parents would not accept this, for they were heavily reliant and proud of their livestock. Kaldi had to act fast. Attempting to keep his ninth century goat-herder suave, he continued to play his pipe as he searched for his goats, passing through fields of trees and bushes, masking his panic with beautiful notes.

After some time, he finally found them. Peering from behind a bush Kaldi dropped his pipe in awe and observed, as his usually nonchalant goats danced. They twirled around on the grass and bleated, leaping upright and spinning around like fruit flies surfing the airy currents made. What had possessed them to be this way?

Still in utter shock, our hero looked around and noticed curious, shining red beans hanging from the surrounding trees. These clusters of beans seemed to glisten, beckoning him to eat them.

Almost immediately, he too began to dance and bleat. He frolicked and pranced alongside his goats while suckling on the beans. He lost track of time, and when nighttime was about to peak, he came back to his senses and herded his goats. Just before he left that special field, he picked a few more of these magical beans and placed them in his satchel.. He took them to the monks in the local monastery and introduced the monks to his peculiar findings. Who better to test than a group of calm, spiritual men?

Surely enough, they too, danced wildly. They gathered around a little fire and consumed the beans, staying up for the rest of the night experiencing an aura of visions. This both scared and excited them.

And so this concludes the myth of our hero and his dancing goats. Coffee beans eventually made it out of Ethiopia to many parts of the world, filled with people who begged to stay awake.

I stood in line awaiting my warm cappuccino to be handed to me.

“Nicole?” I valiantly stepped forth. I took the warm cup and headed out of the café. I pressed the lid to my lips and tilted the cup, allowing its hot contents to fill my mouth. Just one sip and my sleepiness drowned. I smiled. I looked behind me, and there stood Kaldi’s goats. I gave them each a sip of my coffee and they began to bleat and dance. I too bleated and danced and they pirouetted and gyrated at my classroom door as I made my way to the nearest seat.

Nicole is studying a Bachelor of Art Honours at VU Footscray Park.


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