We’re all familiar with the English tea ceremony but have you heard of the Ethiopian coffee ceremony? You probably already know that Ethiopia is the birthplace of coffee. Naturally, they have some sort of ceremony to celebrate the wonders of this brew.
The Ethiopian coffee ceremony is part of their culture. In fact, whenever they entertain visitors, the ceremony is required. So how does it go?
The ceremony is usually conducted by one young woman, dressed in the traditional Ethiopian costume of a white dress with coloured woven borders. The long involved process starts with the ceremonial apparatus being arranged upon a bed of long scented grasses. The roasting of the coffee beans is done in a flat pan over a tiny charcoal stove, the pungent smell mingling with the heady scent of incense that is always burned during the ceremony. The lady who is conducting the ceremony gently washes a handful of coffee beans on the heated pan, then stirs and shakes the husks away.
When the coffee beans have turned black and shining and the aromatic oil is coaxed out of them, they are ground by a pestle and a long handled mortar. The ground coffee is slowly stirred into the black clay coffee pot locally known as ‘jebena’, which is round at the bottom with a straw lid. Due to the archaic method used by Ethiopians, the ground result can be called anything but even, so the coffee is strained through a fine sieve several times.
The youngest child is then sent out to announce when it is to be served and stands ready to bring a cup of coffee first to the eldest in the room and then to the others, connecting all the generations. The lady finally serves the coffee in tiny china cups to her family, friends and neighbours who have waited and watched the procedure for the past half-hour.
I have never experienced such a ceremony but just the thought of being part of one makes me want to go to Ethiopia.