Ethiopia is the cradle of coffee and the country and its people are honoring the coffee bean through a Coffee Ceremony. Ethiopia's coffee ceremony is an important part of their social and cultural life. Attending a coffee ceremony is considered a mark of friendship and respect and is an excellent example of Ethiopian hospitality.
Coffee is taken with plenty of sugar (or in the countryside, salt) but generally no milk is taken. The star is the coffee and coffee bean hence the flavor profile of the coffee is the highlight. Often the ceremony is complemented by a traditional snack food, such as popcorn, peanuts or cooked barley. In most parts of Ethiopia, the coffee ceremony takes place three times a day - in the morning, at noon and in the evening. It is the main social event within the village and a time to discuss the community, politics or simply life. Typically a minimum of three cups (called Sini or Finjal) is offered, whereas the third round is considered to bestow a blessing. Transformation of the spirit is said to take place during the coffee ceremony through the completion of 'Abol' (the first round), 'Tona' (second round) and 'Baraka' (third round).
Ethiopian homage to coffee is always beautifully ceremonial. The ceremony is usually conducted by one young woman, dressed in the traditional Ethiopian white dress with coloured woven borders. The ceremony 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 (often Frankincense) that is always burned during the ceremony. The woman who is conducting the ceremony washes a handful of green 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.
Thereafter the woman announces when coffee is to be served and stands ready to bring a cup of coffee first to the eldest in the room and then to her family, friends and neighbors who have waited and watched the procedure. Gracefully pouring a steamy stream of coffee into each little cup from a height of one foot without an interruption requires years of practice.
The best Ethiopian coffee may be compared with the finest coffee in the world and naming ourselves "Habeshawit", highlights the coffee, the country and its people. To really understand the place of coffee in Ethiopian life, "Buna dabo naw", which when translated means "Coffee is our bread!"
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