Hello everyone, welcome back to the learn Amharic series. Today we are actually going to talk about culture instead of grammar. Today’s culture topic will be about the Ethiopian coffee ceremony. You can check out the two food blogs “Foods in Amharic part 1” and “Foods in Amharic part 2” to learn how to say coffee and other food items. So, without further ado let’s get started!
Ethiopian Coffee Ceremony
The history of coffee in Ethiopia
Ethiopia is the birthplace of coffee. Now let’s talk about a little folklore that talks about how a goat herder found coffee. A goat herder from Kaffa was herding his goats (It is to be expected that a goat herder would herd goats ☺) when he noticed his goats were very excited. It is said they almost look like they were dancing. The goat herder being a curious man decided to investigate why his goats were being so weird. He quickly discovers that they have eaten bright red berries from a branch, so he decides “Hey why don’t I try this well?” He tries the red berry and takes some to his wife who then instructs him to take the berries to the monks.
The goat herder then goes to the monks and shows them the berries. The monks of course believe the berries were some type of sin and throw them into a fire. This caused the berries the release the wonderful coffee smell we all love. (Hopefully you like coffee. I mean you are reading a post of coffee ☺) Then the monks decided to rake the berries out of the fire and crush them. Once they crushed the berries they decided to put them in water. After tasting the drink, they noticed they were energized and that they had more time for their monk duties (whatever monks do at that time). I don’t need to tell you what happened afterwards, because you already know ☺
How important is coffee?
The coffee ceremony is an integral part of Ethiopia’s social and cultural life. An invitation to attend a coffee ceremony is considered a mark of friendship or respect and is an example of Ethiopian hospitality. Performing the ceremony is almost obligatory in the presence of a visitor, whatever the time of day. If a visitor declines coffee then tea is offered.
The ceremony is usually conducted by a woman. In formal occasions the lady wears a traditional Ethiopian dress. Similar to the once shown below in the gallery.
The ceremony starts off with the equipment used in ceremony being arranged on a bed of scented grasses.
The equipment includes “Jebena” “Rekebot” and “Sini“.
The ceremony starts with the lady performing the ceremony washing the coffee beans on a flat pan. After the coffee beans are washed, they are roasted on the same pan until they turn black. Once they are roasted the lady uses a pestle and handled mortar to ground the coffee. Once the coffee beans are grounded they are put into the Jebena which has water in it. After the coffee is done, they lady pours the coffee into small coffee cups called Sini. She then serves everyone.
Coffee is served with sugar in Ethiopia, but in the country side some people use salt (butter and cooking oil are also used by some.) Ethiopians don’t usually put milk in their coffee. Coffee can be served along with popcorn or peanuts. Popcorn being the popular one. In some households, the coffee ceremony is conducted three times a day. One during breakfast time, one at lunch, and one at dinner. The coffee ceremony allows people to catch up on current events as well as spend time with their friends and families. If you are invited to the coffee it is impolite to leave before finishing three rounds. The first round is called “Abol”, the second round is called “Tona“, and the third round is called “Bereka“
And that was a little overview on what the Ethiopian coffee ceremony is. If you have any questions, please make sure you are asking them below.