Performing Ethiopian Coffee Ceremony
How to perform Traditional Coffee Ceremony in Ethiopia - The process of preparing Coffee Ceremony in cultural way of Ethiopians
Ethiopia is World-famous for its delicious coffee. Ethiopia takes the title also to be the birthplace of Coffee from a place known as “Kaffa” or “Keffa” in Western Ethiopia. The place where coffee was originally discovered (“Kaffa” or “Keffa”) is how “Coffee” gets its name. In Ethiopia’s Amharic language Coffee is known as “Buna” (ቡና).
The famous legend about the discovery of Coffee goes back to the 9th Century AD. The Ethiopian goatherd, Kaldi, noticed his goats get unusually active and happy after eating the leaves and berries of the Coffee. He got stimulated and became super excited after eating the berries himself.
He went to the nearby monastery with fresh coffee beans and told what he observed on his goats and himself. At first, he was not trusted and was told the berries were evil stimulants until they throw the coffee beans in the fire. But they were seduced by the sweet aromas of the burning (roasting) coffee and wanted to try it themselves.
YES! The Coffee was really stimulating and helped the monks stay awake in their night prayers.
Coffee is very important for Ethiopia economically. Ethiopia is the largest coffee producer in Africa. Coffee ranks among the top export items of Ethiopia. Coffee has a special place for Ethiopians culturally and socially. Ethiopians has been enjoying coffee for hundreds of years before Coffee was traded first to Yemen and rest of Arabia in the 15th and 16th Century AD.
IMPORTANCE OF THE CULTURAL COFFEE CEREMONY FOR ETHIOPIANS
More than 75% of Ethiopians live in the country side depending on rain fed agricultural activities. They farm small plots of land using traditional tools and oxen, and different families live scattered.
From the cultural point of view, Coffee has a significant place for many of these Ethiopians. The traditional Coffee Ceremony, takes more than 1 hour, is a great solution to get together for neighbors.
During the Coffee Ceremony, locals share information, news about other people – who got sick, who has lost their close relatives in death, and all sorts of topics are raised and discussed.
It is still a common practice in Ethiopia to host and entertain your guest on a traditional Ethiopian Coffee Ceremony. When a visitor is visiting a family, Coffee is among the first things offered. The cultural ceremony of Coffee gives enough time to discuss/chat enjoying yummy cups of coffee. The Coffee Ceremony keeps people close socially and emotionally.
At authentic coffee ceremonies held in agricultural communities of Ethiopia, there is no rush at all. Attending one helps to understand the locals’ sense of time. It is an experience to see how people perform as if they have ALL THE TIME.
Besides drinking the coffee, the cultural way of brewing and drinking it with a ceremony involves one's senses. Cultural Ethiopian Coffee Ceremony is an experience to feel. It gives participants time to share emotions and advice. The traditional way of the coffee ceremony is an activity to experience sensually.
The whole process of the Ethiopian Coffee Ceremony takes longer than one hour. Normally, the coffee host is a woman with traditional Ethiopian dress. The event starts with the organizer (host) preparing a good place for the ceremony. She puts the necessary utensils in front of her and sits facing her guests.
Basic tools (utensils) to perform a traditional Ethiopian Coffee Ceremony are: -
The coffee host makes sure all the materials (utensils) in order. Then, she sprinkles fresh cut green grass (known as Ketema (ቄጤማ) in Amharic) on the ground around the coffee table. The idea behind putting the grass on the ground for the Coffee Ceremony is to create refreshing ambience.
Calling neighbors to attend the Coffee Ceremony, the coffee girl (the host) starts washing the coffee beans by hand. She rubs the beans between the palms on the iron pan. Then, she rinses the coffee berries with clean water.
The next step is putting the coffee beans on the iron pan and roasting it slowly on fire (charcoal) furnace. How dark coffee to brew and drink depends on how long it is roasted. The coffee host stops the roasting process seeing the color of the roasting coffee on the pan.
The unique part of the Ethiopian Cultural Coffee Ceremony is presenting the smoke. The aroma (smoke) of the roasting coffee is offered to the guests. It is a cultural rite to let guests smell the roasting coffee smoke. Guests move the smoke (aroma) of the roasting coffee from the pan to their nose. And inhale to enjoy the sweet fresh smell of the coffee. This offer is a sign of being a welcoming host.
After letting the hot roasted coffee cool down, pounding manually continues. Pounding the coffee is done by hand using mortar and pestle is the next step. As she is grinding the coffee, she boils clean water on the fire furnace using the iron vessel.
While all these process of the Ethiopian Coffee Ceremony is going on, participants enjoy chatting. With full attention, they talk about what is new, finding out how things went, and what to do. Different topics are raised during the traditional Ethiopian coffee ceremony. Cultural matters, family issues, politics, society, daily matters, are the common.
The most important topic on coffee ceremony of Ethiopia is personal issues. Examples are health, family, farming, business, and following up on what they discussed before.
After grinding the roasted coffee, and boiling the water in the vessel, the hot water is poured into the Jebena – the typical traditional Ethiopian clay coffee pot. Adding enough coffee powder, the coffee brewing continues with boiling the hot water in the Jebena.
Merit Ethiopian Experience Tours [MEET] has a logo with a shape of a traditional Ethiopian Coffee Pot (Jebena) decorated with the national colors of Ethiopia - Green, Yellow, and Red.
The coffee pot has varied sizes and slightly different shapes in different parts of Ethiopia. The Ethiopian coffee pot may have one or more spouts. The coffee pot from Tigray region of North Ethiopia and Eritrea has no spout.
When the coffee in the clay pot boils well, the steam (foam) discharges on the top. That is the time to take it off the fire and put it aside. Then, wait for few minutes until the crude (coarse part) of the coffee settles down.
Next, the coffee host burns the frankincense (እጣን) on the charcoal furnace for its sweet smell. Burning frankincense (እጣን) creates enjoyable ambience before pouring the first round of coffee.
Ethiopians drink three cups (rounds) of coffee during the coffee ceremony. The first round of coffee, known as Abol (አቦል), is the strongest and best one.
With special care not to move the crude part of the settled coffee, the coffee woman pours the coffee slowly into the cups one by one. Then, it is handed to the guests together with sugar and a unique herb known as Tena Adam (Rue).
A small piece of leaves from Tena Adam (ጤና አዳም), is dipped in the cup of coffee. Tena Adam (rue) gives the coffee a delicious taste as flavoring agent. The scientific name of Tena Adam (Rue) is “Ruta Chalepenesis”.
Bereka (በረካ) is the name of the second round of coffee to drink. Tona (ቶና) is the last and third round of coffee in Ethiopian Coffee Cultural event. Brewing Bereka and Tona is only by adding more water to the coffee remained in the pot (Jebena). So, Tona is the least strong cup of coffee.
Our tours in Addis Ababa city include the experience of traditional Ethiopian Coffee Ceremony.
If you have a day in Addis Ababa, you can attend a Cultural Coffee Ceremony Ethiopian way with locals in one of our day trips near Addis.
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