Once upon a time, in the highlands of southern India, there lived a man named Baba Budan. He was a Sufi saint who was known for his wisdom, compassion, and love for nature. Baba Budan spent most of his days meditating, praying, and helping the poor and the needy.
Baba Budan is also known for introducing coffee to India. The story of his adventures on hajj is one that is steeped in mystery and legend.
As the story goes, he set out on a journey to Mecca to fulfill his religious duty of performing the hajj, or pilgrimage. Baba Budan traveled through the deserts of Arabia and crossed the Red Sea to reach Mecca. He spent several weeks there, performing the rituals of the hajj and praying at the holy sites. But during his time in Mecca, he also noticed something that caught his eye: the locals were drinking a dark, fragrant beverage that seemed to give them energy and vitality.
Intrigued, Baba Budan asked the locals about the beverage, and they told him that it was a drink made from the roasted beans of a plant called qahwah. (The Arabic word qahwah has a long history of travel from the Turkish kahve, to the Dutch koffie, and then to English as “coffee”.) They explained that coffee was a prized commodity in Arabia and that it was often used to help people stay alert during long nights of prayer and study.
Baba Budan was fascinated by the idea of this mysterious beverage, after his hajj he left Mecca and embarked on a journey to the port city of Mocha in Yemen. Mocha was the center of the coffee trade at that time, and Baba Budan hoped to learn more about the cultivation and processing of coffee from the experts.
Once in Yemen, Baba Budan made his way to the mountains where coffee was grown. He was welcomed by the local farmers where Baba Budan spent several months learning from the Yemeni farmers, studying their methods of cultivation, harvesting, and roasting. Baba Budan was particularly interested in the Yemeni way of roasting the coffee beans, which involved roasting them with spices and herbs to create a unique flavor.
Arabians closely guarded the coffee bean, and it was forbidden to export raw beans. But Baba Budan was not to be averted. The legend is that Baba Budan collected 7 coffee beans and hid them in his beard and smuggled them back to India.
Once he returned to his village, Baba Budan planted the coffee beans in the hills of Chikmagalur, a region in Karnataka known for its rich soil and favorable climate. The plants thrived, and soon coffee became a popular drink in the area.
Today, Chikmagalur is one of the major coffee-growing regions of India, and Baba Budan is celebrated as a hero for bringing this beloved beverage to the country. Many people believe that the seven hills of Chikmagalur are named after the seven beans of coffee that Baba Budan smuggled back from Arabia, though this legend is more myth than fact.
Regardless of the truth behind the legend, there is no denying the impact that Baba Budan had on India's coffee culture. His story is a testament to the power of travel and the curiosity that can lead us to discover new and wonderful things.