Ethiopian coffee ceremony – How coffee is brewed the original way

If the new Hipsters can learn and adopt a ritual and impress us it would be the Ethiopian Coffee ceremony.  You have not tasted coffee until you tasted it in the truest, purest way the Ethiopians serve it.
How was coffee discovered:  The story goes coffee was discovered by a goat herder named Kaldi, who found his goats frolicking around full of energy after eating the red fruit of the coffee shrub. Kaldi tried the fruit for himself and had a similar reaction. That’s the story and Ethiopians are sticking to it.

You would need the following to do a true Ethiopian ritual:

Fresh Green Coffee Beans (+- 1 cup)

Fresh Clean Water (+-1000ml for boiling and more to clean the cups)

Sugar (Ethiopians drink very sweet coffee, almost 2-4 teaspoons per small cup)

Hot Coals  (enough to slow roast beans and to boil water)

Coffee Roast Pan (preferable with small holes in the bottom)

A Clay/Pottery Kettle called a “Jebena”   (+- 750ml to 1000ml)

Wooden Mortar and Pestle

Handleless Cups

Freshly popped Popcorn

and Time – this ceremony is about smell, taste and appreciation

The traditional way of making coffee in Ethiopa

In between preparation and servings serve the popcorn as a snack as well as to cleanse the palettes.

Boil the water slowly over the coals while roasting the beans.  Wave your hand over the roasting beans now and again to give your guest a share of the beautiful aromas.  Make sure to stir or shake the beans often to ensure an even roasting.

Once the beans are roasted to a rich brown colour place in the mortar and use the pestle to grind nice and fine.  The strength of the coffee will be determined by how fine the beans were grounded and how long it steeped.

The coffee gets made in clay postsAdd about a heaped tablespoon of ground to about a litre of boiling water into your “Jebena”.  Let it steep for a few minutes, swirling the pot now and again, while you serve more popcorn and clean the cups in front of your guests.  This is seen as good manners.

Rest the “Jebena” off the coals for a couple of seconds (do not swirl around again) and then pour the coffee by moving the tilted boiling pot over a tray with the cups lined up, without stopping.   Some of the coffee will inevitably miss the cups but by doing this you prevent the coffee grounds from landing in the brew.  One extra cup is poured each time in the event someone else arrives or wants more.

Serve popcorn.

Repeat the process of brewing three times.  Thus adding more water to the “Jebena”, not more ground.  The first round of coffee will be strong, called ‘Abol’ (the first round), ‘Tona’ (second round) and ‘Baraka’ (third round) also known as desert!

When in Ethiopia:

It is impolite to retire until you have consumed at least three cups, as the third round is considered to bestow a blessing.

The coffee ceremony may also include burning of various traditional incense.

People add sugar to their coffee, or in the countryside, sometimes salt and/or traditional butter .

** The different regions in Ethiopia have slight variations to this ceremony


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *