History of Ethiopian Coffee Tradition
It is thought that coffee originated in Ethiopia and dating back to the ninth century. Since then, coffee continues to be an integral part of the Ethiopian culture. There’s a common saying among Ethiopians, “coffee is our bread,” which shows just how ingrained coffee is in Ethiopian life.
The Ceremony Process
The Ethiopian Coffee Ceremony is one of the most important social customs in Ethiopia. Each household may participate in coffee ceremony as much as three times a day and offers an opportunity to be hospitable and welcoming to family, neighbors, and friends. It’s considered the most important social occasion in some regions and is a sign of respect and friendship to be invited to coffee. Usually, the host, who is typically a woman, prepares the coffee, which is a high honor. This honor usually belongs to the matriarch of the household. In preparation for coffee ceremony, leaves and flowers are placed where the coffee is brewed.
- The beans are washed by hand.
- The host roasts the beans in front of you using a pan over an open flame. Then she will pass the pan around so guests can smell the freshly roasted coffee.
- When the coffee is ready, she will manually grind the coffee using a wooden mortar and pestle until the grounds are really fine.
- Once the coffee is ground, the host will place the coffee and water into a Jebena pot. It has a spherical base, a tall neck, pouring spout, and a handle.
- The host will boil the water and coffee several times. The coffee is then taste-tested by the host.
- Once the coffee is ready, the host will pour the coffee into cups without handles and may add some sugar.
- The coffee is distributed and enjoyed by guests.
While guests wait for the coffee to be brewed, it’s common for the host to burn incense, adding to the aromatic experience of brewing coffee. It is also common for popcorn to be served with Ethiopian Coffee. I’m not sure where that tradition started, but don’t be surprised if you visit Ethiopia and participate in coffee ceremony to be handed some popcorn with your coffee.
Here at Sagebrush, we love to learn and share about how people in the land of origin experience coffee. Our goal is to take every opportunity to enhance an already excellent coffee experience.