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Ethiopian Coffee CEREMONY

Step by step:

#1 The ceremony is done daily for at least 2 hours.

Deemed as the most important social connection, the coffee ceremony lasts for about 2 to 3 hours. It’s common for families, especially those in traditional homes, to enjoy 2-3 of these ceremonies per day. Children participate in serving the coffee to the elders and most of the time, guests are invited. Conversation topics typically range from politics to community matters and many more.


#2 A young woman (or the woman of the house) always conducts the ceremony.

Considered an honor, an Ethiopian coffee ceremony is always conducted by a young woman or sometimes, the matriarch of the house. Since as children, they are regularly exposed to this ceremony and girls are always encouraged to learn the requisite skills, it can be expected that the hostess is very adept. During the ceremony, she wears a traditional, ankle-length white cotton dress embroidered at its borders with colorful thread. Her movements is an art form. 


#3 The ceremony is an elaborate process mainly composed of 3 stages.

The three phases involved during the coffee ceremony are roasting, brewing and cupping. During the entire process, the host performs all three phases in front of all the attendees while simultaneously entertaining them.

  • Roasting: The ceremony begins with raw coffee beans being washed then roasted over fire or stove in a long-handled pan called the menkeshkesh. In Tigrinya, menkeshkesh loosely translates to “the shaker”. The hostess decides how long the beans should be roasted but generally, she waits for it to be black and oily. Once done, the beans are then poured into a woven mat or plate made of lakha reeds called a meshrefet. The beans are spread out on the meshrefet and set aside in to cool, and guests are invited to enjoy the aroma of it. Also, before roasting, the hostess usually spreads fresh flowers and grass on the floor or ground while burning incense to make air more fragrant.

  • Brewing: A ceramic, hand-made pot called jebana is the coffee brewing apparatus in the Ethiopian Coffee Ceremony. It is filled with water, not surpassing the stout, and set on the stove to boil. While waiting for the water to boil, the roasted beans are then crushed or coarsely ground into fine powder using a wooden mortar called a muketcha with a metal or wooden pestle called a zenezena. When the steam from the jebena begins to rise, the hostess begins to pour water into the small cup containing the coffee grounds. It will form a thick liquid which is then poured back into the jebena. The host continues to do this back-and-forth motion until all of the grounds have been swept into the jebana. Then, the jebena will again be placed on the stove, allowing the steam to rise up again while ensuring that the contents do not overflow.

  • Cupping: The very hot jebana is placed in its “chair” called kofmobelee jebana. The hostess then prepares small cups called finjals in which coffee from the jebana is gently poured from a few inches away. Each finjal of coffee is placed on tiny serving plates and while guests are enjoying their cups, it is customary for them to shower the hostess with compliments. For the second, third and subsequent rounds, more water is added to the pot and reboiled, making each brew weaker than the other.


# 4 The aroma of the roasted coffee is powerful and is considered to be an important aspect of the ceremony.

After roasting, the hostess soaks each guest in the aroma created by the coffee’s smoke. She will come to each guest and at the same time, incense is burned to compliment the rich coffee fragrance. This part of the ceremony is considered iconic and very significant. If the aroma is found unwelcoming or unpleasant to guests, the host will have to start the entire process again.