The Coffee Ceremony in Ethiopia
The Coffee ceremony in Ethiopia is a ceremony that celebrates coffee. It is more than just sipping a rich cup of the beverage and is more of an important cultural ritual that has been handed down from one generation to another in Ethiopia. Ethiopians believed that coffee originated in their country.
This coffee ceremony is a highly essential part of their cultural and social life. If you're invited to attend a coffee ceremony, it shows that you're considered a good friend and you're respected. The ceremony shows a part of Ethiopian hospitality.
It is almost obligatory that the ceremony is performed in the presence of a visitor, no matter the time of the day. If you are a visitor, then there is no need to hurry out as the special ceremony can gulp a few hours of your time. All you need to do is sit back, relax, and enjoy the ceremony.
The way Ethiopians pay homage to coffee is grandiose, and always beautifully ceremonial. Usually, the ceremony is anchored by one young woman dressed in the traditional Ethiopian attire of a white dress with colored woven borders.
Brewing The Coffee
The lengthy process begins when the ceremonial apparatus is being laid out upon a bed of long grasses with a sweet scent. The roasting of the coffee beans then starts in a flat pan, cooked over a charcoal stove. This is accompanied by the pungent smell that intertwines with the scent of incense, which is burnt during the ceremony. The lady conducting the ceremony will then wash a handful of coffee beans on the heated pan before shaking the husk away. When the color of the coffee changes to black, they shine, and their aromatic oil is extracted from them. They are then ground by a pestle and long-handled mortar. The ground coffee is stirred into a black clay pot which the locals call 'jebena' that has a round bottom and a straw lid.
Because the process used by the Ethiopians are crude, the ground coffee is usually coarse, so they pass it through a fine sieve severally to strain it. The youngest child presents them goes to announce when it will be ready for serving. The child also stands ready to bring serve the first cup of coffee to the eldest in the room and then to the rest present, connecting all the generations.
The anchor lady then serves the coffee in little china cups to the family, neighbors, and friends who were patient and watched the procedure for the whole time the process went on. She pours the brownish-gold coffee liquid into each little cup from a height of one foot, skillfully without any interruption.
Coffee is consumed with plenty of sugar and no milk. In the countryside people only use salt. While drinking, lavish praise is I've not for flavor and expert preparation. Usually, it goes with a traditional snack food like popcorn, cooked barley, and peanuts.
Some parts of Ethiopia carry out this coffee ceremony three times a day- in the morning, at noon and in the evening. It is the leading social event within the village, and the people take advantage of it to discuss community welfare, life, and politics.
History of the Coffee ceremony
If you're invited to take part in the ceremony, do not leave without consuming at least three cups. It is considered impolite for the third round is believed to bestow a blessing.
They believe that the spirit is being transformed during the coffee ceremony as one completes 'Abol' (the 1st round), 'Tona' (2nd round) and 'Baraka' (3rd round).
The national folklore describes the origin of coffee as being firmly rooted in Ethiopia's history. The most famous Legend tells the story of the goat herder who lived in Kaffa, in that area, coffee plants still maintain their original state and grow wild in the forest hills. The beans (which are more like the seeds of cherrylike fruits) were discovered around 800 A.D., thanks to a few goats.
The goat herder found his goats excited and moving their hind legs in a dance-like manner while they grazed. He noticed that some branches of the coffee plant bore bright red berries. After tasting the berries, he rushed home to tell his wife, and she suggested they talk to the monks. The monks threw the sinful drug into the flames; what followed was the coffee smell, which is now familiar. They removed the beans from the fire after crushing it and distilled the product in boiling water.
The monastery was enveloped with the divine aroma of roasting coffee beans, and other monks came to investigate. They sat up all night to enjoy the renewed energy to their holy devotions. The rest is history.
If you've tasted from several regions, you'll notice a slight difference in their tastes, and this is due to the varying growth conditions. Kaffa's forested hillsides, which stands at 1,500 feet, has larger trees which protect the coffee plants from the harsh sun. Harar is famous for its long berry variety that comes with a wine-like flavor and sharp, acidic edge. Sidamo's beans are called Yirgacheffes, and they have a weird flavor. The coffee Arabica strain is the original Ethiopia bean and is the exclusive one they currently grow and drink. It doesn't possess the excessive acid taste of the neighboring Kenyan brands and is very much similar to the neighboring Ocha variety of Yemen. It shouldn't be high roasted to avoid losing its delicate and strong flavor.
Ethiopia regards coffee as a sacred drink. The flavor and picking process of coffee involves more than 12 million Ethiopians, and it makes about two-thirds of the country's income. The best Ethiopian coffee is regarded as the finest coffee in the world, and premium washed Arabica beans cost a fortune on some of the world's market. The Ethiopian coffee ceremony represents a time when conversation and human relations were cherished. This is portrayed by the ancient proverb that shows coffee's rank in the culture of Ethiopia, "Buna dabo naw," which means "Coffee is our bread!"