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ETHIOPIAN COFFEE CEREMONY


In parts of Ethiopia, the woman of the house (or a younger woman in the household) performs or participates in the two- to three-hour coffee ceremony three times each day (once in the morning, once at noon and once in the evening). It is also customary for women to perform the ceremony when welcoming visitors into the home and in times of celebration.

A coffee ceremony (Amharic: ቡና ማፍላት, romanized: bunna maflat, lit.: “to brew coffee”) is a ritualized form of making and drinking coffee. The coffee ceremony was first practiced in Ethiopia and Eritrea. There is a routine of serving coffee on a daily basis, mainly for the purpose of getting together with relatives, neighbors, or other visitors. If coffee is politely declined, then tea (Chai) will most likely be served. Loose grass is spread on the floor where the coffee ceremony is held, often decorated with small yellow flowers. Composite flowers are sometimes used, especially around the celebration of Meskel.

In parts of Ethiopia, the woman of the house (or a younger woman in the household) performs or participates in the two- to three-hour coffee ceremony three times each day (once in the morning, once at noon and once in the evening). It is also customary for women to perform the ceremony when welcoming visitors into the home and in times of celebration.

The coffee ceremony is considered to be the most important social occasion in many villages, and it is a sign of respect and friendship to be invited to a coffee ceremony. Guests at a ceremony may discuss topics such as politics, community, and gossip. There is also abundant praise for the ceremony’s performer and the brews she produces.  

 

 

Regardless of the time of day, occasion (or lack thereof) and guests invited, the ceremony usually follows a distinct format, with some variations.Beyond pure socialization, the coffee ceremony also plays a spiritual role in Ethiopia, one which emphasizes the importance of Ethiopian coffee culture. Coffee has a long history of association with Islam, and it is said that a transformation of the spirit takes place during the three rounds of the coffee ceremony thanks to coffee's spiritual properties.

Being always prepared by women, each ‘cini’ is carried out as follows:

• Hostesses carefully wash the green coffee that has been selected for the occasion.

• On a small bonfire, the beans will be roasted manually. Local varieties are often used and do not mix.

• Once roasted, the grains are crushed in a mortar until a fine grind is achieved.

• The jebena will have been put to the fire beforehand with the water corresponding to the number of cups to be served.

• When the water boils, the ground coffee will be added through the top nozzle.

• The coffee must be boiled again and will be decanted in another container through the second nozzle.

• The coffee is returned to the jebena by the top nozzle and remains on the coals for a couple more minutes.

• The hostess serves the attendees.

The ‘jebena buna’ does not consist of tasting a single cup of coffee alone, but each guest must drink three, whose flavor will vary due to the reuse of the beans. Each pass of this ceremony receives a different name and this is linked to the Ethiopian tradition.

 

The first cup is called Abol. It ensures that it is the strongest drink of that coffee, but also the best. The second cup, Tona, is prepared by reusing coffee grounds. That is why it is weaker than the first. The last one is the Baraka or, the “caminera”.

 

The cups in which coffee is served, or ‘cinis’ do not have handles, so those attending this ceremony must be prepared to withstand the high temperatures of the ceramics. The drink is enjoyed alone or, occasionally, accompanied by sugar. In addition, another of the specialties that are usually offered in this ritual are popcorn.