Traditional Coffee Ceremony

Sunday afternoon we were able to experience a traditional Ethiopian coffee ceremony right in our local mall! We have a local coffee stand outside of the Belk store that really cares about good, quality coffee. The owner likes to educate people about coffee besides making the best coffee in the area. Not too many months ago he hired an Ethiopian woman, named Tigest, to work in his shop and that brought on this simple ceremony.

Tigest sat on a little stool with a small gas burner outside the perfume section of Belk. We gave them a run for their money as she even roasted some beans!  If you have never experienced what the smell of roasting coffee is like, you won’t be able to imagine what I am referring too! She also burned some incence which I guess is traditional as well.

The ceremony goes something like this: First they wash the coffee beans and then roast them in a roasting pan on a small open fire. The pan is shaken back and forth so the beans don’t burn and then they start to pop. This sounds like popcorn popping. Tigest then took the beans around the group so we could smell them. The coffee then is ground, for the sake of time, Tigest used the shop’s grinder. The traditional pot they use to boil the coffee with is a called a “jebena”. They serve the coffee in little cups called “cini”.

At this ceremony we had three rounds. The first round is called “abol” (first), the second is called “huletegna” (second), and the third is called “bereka”(ironically, does not mean third but something like “good-luck”). Tigest also served us popcorn which she cooked on the burner at the very start.

Tigest said that they do this process several times a day and whenever you visit someone’s home. It was a very enjoyable experience, but as I kept watching all the people skirt around us, or stop to stare for a few minutes, with their shopping bags all about them I couldn’t help but think of the irony of the setting. Here in America we have the ability to spend our extra dollars on expensive coffees at the mall as we shop and in Ethiopia there is the looming famine and the thousands of children about to perish for lack of water and food.

1 Comment

  1. Alice Zacchi
    Mar 9, 2011

    Dear H,
    My name is Alice Zacchi, and I work for a publishing house based in Italy named Atlante ( I’m interested to the pictures about the african coffee ceremony show on this page. They could be published in a new book about coffee that we’re preparing.
    Are the images available in high resolution? Have you got other images on this topic?
    Thank you in advance for the information.
    Best regards,
    Alice Zacchi

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