Coffee the slow way – The Ethiopian Coffee Ceremony


Many Overlanders seem to be discussing about how to prepare really good coffee on the road as we figured out from a lot of other traveller`s blogs at the moment. We don`t drink too much coffee, so we do it the "slow way" whenever we want to have it! Here is how it goes!


As coffee is originally from Ethiopia it seems, it is obvious that you get the best coffee here. But, there is no good Ethiopian coffee without the proper coffee ceremony.

The first step.
Nobody here buys roasted coffee beans or powdered coffee and instant coffee would probably make every Ethiopian turn away in deep disgust! Here, people don't want to be in a rush when drinking coffee, but want to relax, meet people and talk, talk, talk.




Green coffee beans

Starting the roasting process

What you get at the market in Ethiopia are green coffee beans. To roast the coffee beans, they have to be put into a small pan and be roasted over a charcoal fire (best to be done with a traditional fireplace which can even be used indoors) until they have a dark-brown (not black) colour.

Roasting process nearly finished

Mmh, I wish you could smell this!

The fumes arising from the roasting coffee are really enchanting! (Maybe, that`s how Ethiopian girls beguile their husbands to be?)
Ethiopians believe that the fumes of the roasting coffee when blown into a person's face will bring luck and happiness to that person, especially every first day of the month (so luck and happiness will stay for the complete month) or whenever you or someone else does something for the first time or has birthday (luck and happiness will last for the complete year!).

The second step
After roasting, the coffee beans have to be crushed using a wooden mortar and a pestle until the beans have been turned into a relatively fine powder. ... It looks easy, but it is hard work (just look at Juliane`s face)!

By the way, we found out that the beans taste better if you do it like this with mortar and pestle instead of using an electric grinding machine ... or maybe that`s just pure imagination!

The main part
After the coffee beans have been processed into a dark-brown powder with a really wonderfull perfume, now comes the main part of the ceremony.
After pre-heating the beautiful traditional Ethiopian clay coffee-pot with enough water for the amount of cups needed over a carcoalfire, the coffee-powder is mixed with hot water from the pot and put directly back into the pot to boil for about 20 minutes.

If the water boils over, take away the clay pot from the fire and pour some of the coffee into a pot, immediately put it back and put the coffee pot back on the fire.

After about twenty minutes of boiling (you've got to make sure that the charcoal fire has the correct temperature, so that the coffee really boils - here, they do it by constant fanning, which really is exhausting), you put away the coffee pot from the fire to let the coffee-powder sink down.

After cleaning the small Ethiopian coffee cups (you can also use espresso cups) with fresh water, put two small spoons of cane-sugar into every cup.

For pouring the coffee into the cups, some people add a filter to the pot`s opening, but most people just fill the coffee into the cups without using it. Most important is that it has to be done from high above. We could not find out about the function of this, but maybe it's just for "show" purposes.

When serving the coffee, the oldest person is served first, then the guests and then the other members of the round according to gender (?), age and position.

Traditional coffee pot - beautiful


You want one? Go to Ethiopia!


The boiling procedure can be repeated another two times with the same coffee powder. The first round is called "Abol", the second one "Tawina" and the third one "Bereka". If you want, you can also add a few spoons of fresh coffee powder for the second and third time.

It is important that the clay pot has to be cleaned with freshwater only (do not use soap! never ever!).

To go along with the ceremony:
popcorn, peanuts, biscuits, watered beans or roasted cereals. Actually, anything that`s available goes with it in Ethiopia as they are not really fundamentalist when it comes to eating and food.  ... When Ethiopians want to make the coffee ceremony really festive, they burn incense at it, which makes the ceremony even more hypnotic!

... by the way ... did you know that Juliane drank her first cup of coffee here in Ethiopia! Get that, German coffee!

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