Ethiopian coffee ceremonies

roasted-coffee-beansAs the legendary home of the coffee bean, Ethiopia has a long association with the world’s favourite drink. The Ethiopian people have such respect for coffee that they’ve developed a ceremony for preparing it, which you may be offered if you visit the country or eat at an authentic Ethiopian restaurant.

The hostess of the ceremony will begin by cleaning and washing the coffee beans (known as ‘bunna’, pronounced ‘boo-na’), to remove any debris or remnants of the fibrous outer husk. They’re then placed in a long-handled pan, similar to a covered frying pan. The pan’s placed on an open fire or in a stone oven, and the hostess will shake the beans continually so they don’t burn. When the beans are ready, they start to darken, release their oils and make a popping sound and the scent of freshly-roasted coffee will begin to scent the air.

Traditionally, the roasted coffee is then pounded in a heavy wooden bowl called a ‘mukecha’, using a metal or wooden stick called a ‘zenezena’, much like a pestle and mortar, although many ceremonies are now conducted using electric grinders for convenience and consistency.

The coffee grounds are transferred to a long necked clay pot called a ‘jebena’ and boiled over the open fire before being poured into another container, allowed to cool and re-boiled up to three times. Once ready, the coffee is poured through a filter set in the neck of the jebena into tiny china cups called ‘cini’.┬áThe resulting drink should be savoured in the company of friends.

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