Kaeth (or kaethae), also known as coffee, was a brewed beverage made from ground beans. Considered a rare delicacy in areas north of Calimshan, kaeth was relatively common in more southerly lands, as well as in larger cities such as Athkatla, Waterdeep, and Westgate.[4][5]


Kaeth was primarily produced in Maztica, the Anauroch desert, and areas to the south and east of Durpar.[5] Around 1367 DR, it was claimed that coffee grew only in the Shining Lands of Durpar, Estagund, and Var the Golden, and coffee was the Shining Lands' most profitable export.[6] However, coffee sold in Halruaa was said to come from Ulgarth, the land beyond Durpar, and it was said Ulgarth was where the only true coffee was grown.[7][note 1]

Kaeth beans were harvested from short trees in mountainous areas, then sun-dried on rocks. When dried, the beans would be stuffed into cloth sacks, then the sacks would be stacked inside wooden crates for ease of transport.[5] The flat, sunny plains of the Shining Lands were also suitable for growing coffee and other crops.[8]


Previously enjoyed only in southeast Faerûn, Durpari traders began large-scale export of Durpar-grown coffee around 1367 DR. Drinking coffee was just becoming popular in wider Faerûn at the time.[9] Coffee was regularly exported from the Shining Lands by 1373 DR.[10]

In the 15th century DR, kaeth trade was considered more popular and profitable than tea trade.[11]


Kaeth beans originating in Maztica were typically red-brown and had a powdery quality. These were shipped across the sea, to Baldur's Gate, and typically distributed from there to Tashalar and Calimshan.[2][5]

Anauran beans were smaller, harder, and so dark brown that they looked almost black. The nomadic Bedine people who cultivated the beans referred to kaeth as qahwa.[5][12]

After the return of Thultanthar, the Bedine consumed most of the supply themselves. As a result, the Anauran beans were extremely uncommon outside of their native region.[12][5] However, thanks to the machinations of the D'tarig, a few merchants from Zhentil Keep were able to smuggle Anauran beams to Hillsfar and Sembia. Though most considered Zhentilar a unreliable source to get kaeth beans, Sembian traders had a high demand for Anauran kaeth in the 15th century DR.[12]

The kaeth beans from beyond Durpar were larger, had a pronounced cleft or depressed line running their length, and were brown with a bluish hue.[12][5] This variant was often referred to as Thondur's, named after the trader Thondur, who for a while had a monopoly on the kaeth trade reaching Calimshan, Tashalar, and the Vilhon Reach. This bean type was the most common in lands to the south.[5]

In the 15th century DR, Thondur's became cheaper thanks to the shattering of Thondur's monopoly.[12]

On the plane of Bytopia, popular kaeth variants included "Krigala Supreme" from the Beastlands, "Mountain Majesty" from Mount Celestia, as well as "Devotion" and "Purity" from Elysium.[13]

Regional customsEdit

Brewed kaeth was the most popular form of consumption in Calimshan, the Tashalar, the Heartlands, and the North. In some places, kaeth was mixed with medicines or mint leaves sprinkled over the surface, prepared by stewing the beans in a pot over a fire or a hearth.[note 2] Some people also liked to chew beans while traveling or eat them roasted.[11]

In Calimshan and Tashalar, kaeth was mostly consumed pure, although sometimes with the addition of powdered roots, nuts, or ginger. In Sembia and Chessenta, the preferred method of consumption involved mixing kaeth with chocolate or alcohol.[11][5]

In areas to the north, kaeth was mostly served in cider mugs. In southern lands, it was more commonly served in small, flared bowls known as "kavvar".[5]

Bad coffee was described by using a handy repertory of oaths in northern lands, while in the South it was called ortulag (pronounced: /ˈɔːrtʌlɑːgOR-tu-lag), a word derived from a defunct dialect meaning "warmed-over chamber pot rinse."[11]



  1. The Shining South (1993) contradicts itself several times on whether coffee comes from Durpar or Ulgarth. Since the sourcebook is introduced by a Halruaan, and all Ulgarth's produce comes through Durpar, the discrepancy is easily explained as an in-universe error, but not easily resolved.
  2. According to Ed Greenwood Presents Elminster's Forgotten Realms, black coffee in the Realms is stronger than its real-world counterpart because of the preparation method. (page 94).

External linksEdit



  1. Jeff Grubb, Julia Martin, Steven E. Schend et al (1992). Aurora's Whole Realms Catalogue. (TSR, Inc), p. 132. ISBN 0-5607-6327-2.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Ed Greenwood (October 2012). Ed Greenwood Presents Elminster's Forgotten Realms. (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 92–94. ISBN 0786960345.
  3. Eric Cagle, Jesse Decker, Jeff Quick, and James Wyatt (March 2003). Arms and Equipment Guide 3rd edition. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 31. ISBN 978-0-7869-2649-7.
  4. Ed Greenwood (October 2012). Ed Greenwood Presents Elminster's Forgotten Realms. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 92. ISBN 0786960345.
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 5.4 5.5 5.6 5.7 5.8 5.9 Ed Greenwood, The Hooded One (2005-03-06). Questions for Ed Greenwood (2005). Candlekeep Forum. Retrieved on 2016-02-29.
  6. Tom Prusa (1993). The Shining South. (TSR, Inc), p. 54. ISBN 1-56076-595-X.
  7. Tom Prusa (1993). The Shining South. (TSR, Inc), pp. 8, back cover. ISBN 1-56076-595-X.
  8. Thomas Reid (October 2004). Shining South. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 109. ISBN 0-7869-3492-1.
  9. Tom Prusa (1993). The Shining South. (TSR, Inc), p. 60. ISBN 1-56076-595-X.
  10. Thomas Reid (October 2004). Shining South. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 115. ISBN 0-7869-3492-1.
  11. 11.0 11.1 11.2 11.3 Ed Greenwood (October 2012). Ed Greenwood Presents Elminster's Forgotten Realms. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 94. ISBN 0786960345.
  12. 12.0 12.1 12.2 12.3 12.4 Ed Greenwood (October 2012). Ed Greenwood Presents Elminster's Forgotten Realms. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 93. ISBN 0786960345.
  13. Colin McComb, Dale Donovan (December 1995). “Adventures in Conflict”. In Michele Carter ed. Planes of Conflict (TSR, Inc.), p. 14. ISBN 0-7869-0309-0.
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