Did you know that Ethiopia, specifically in a province called Kaffa, is considered the birthplace of coffee (hence the evolvement of the name coffee)? It is said that the berries were actually discovered by a goat herder who noticed that his goats were acting a bit more animated after eating them.
Ethiopia is located in the horn of Africa, a peninsula which juts out like a horn on the eastern side of the continent. According to those in the know, Ethiopian Coffee is grown and harvested with love and how better to express that love than with a ceremony. Of course, in a place where coffee was born and existed before the advent of man, surely reverence to coffee should be paid.
The ceremony is a social event and often performed three times a day. The tools involved in ceremony are:
The Jebena-An ornately decorated coffee pot usually made of clay.
Cini–small coffee cups
Coffee roasting pan-small in size with a long handle which allows you to roast the beans without getting too close.
Small open roasting furnace
Mukecha-coffee grinder (which is really akin to a mortar and pestle)
Incense-sticks, cones or other material that is burned to create a fragrant smell
Today purchased roasters and grinders are often used depending upon where the ceremony is being performed.
The ceremony begins with bringing out washed green coffee beans, traditionally done by a woman, and roasting them in the long-handled roasting pan, shaking the pan and emitting smells that draw you in. As if the heavenly smell is not enough, the preparer then walks around the room with the roasting beans to give you a closer whiff.
At this point the beans are placed in the Mukecha or other type of grinder. The ground mixture is then placed in the Jebena (the specially made coffee pot) and boiled on the small roasting furnace. When ready, it is poured into the small cups called Cini. It is here that a blessing is given.
While this is the end of the ceremony, three servings are often made with the ground coffee already prepared. Traditionally, the ceremony is done three times in a day. Three is a significant number in matters of spirituality and religion.
Adriana Lukas, author of Media Influencer and professional blogger, is from the UK. She recently traveled to Ethiopia and attended a coffee ceremony. Here is an excerpt from her blog along with a beautiful photograph she took while there:
“Emishaw’s mother started the coffee ceremony, a grass-like rug, a brazier with hot coal, a tall necked jar for boiling the coffee, a smaller brazier for the incense and a tray with a row of tiny coffee cups. Ceremony takes about 30 minutes, deliberate as it is a social occasion for the family. Normally performed 2-3 times a day. The coffee is excellent, not at all bitter or acidic… don’t drink coffee without milk unless it’s Lebanese but enjoyed mine very much. No doubt rather strong, which is why typing this at 2.20am.”
I would love to travel to all the places where coffee is grown because, in my mind, they conjure up exotic images and intoxicating aromas of fresh coffee along with the floral and fruity scents of the region, tasty food and pastries, vibrant hues in the landscape as well as the clothing and warm and friendly people with an interesting history and stories to tell. Judging by Adriana’s experience, I would say my fantasy is very much a reality, one I hope to experience first hand.
Here are a few links to further explore Ethiopia and the coffee ceremony.
Coffee in Ethiopia
Adriana Lukas’ blog on her trip to Ethiopia: