One of the very traditional, cultural events in Ethiopia is the coffee ceremony. When medical teams visit our project, one of the women’s support groups will put on a coffee ceremony for them. This is an opportunity for the ladies to put on their best clothes, do their hair and proudly show an important part of Ethiopian culture. The coffee ceremony starts by spreading grass on the ground around the area of the ceremony and lighting a charcoal fire.

Raw coffee beans are washed and rinsed and then roasted over the charcoal fire.

The overdone beans are picked out and then the roasted beans are ground by hand.

While this is being done, the water is being boiled in a special pot called a “jebena”.

Once the water is boiling, the coffee grounds are added to the water and it is brought to a boil again. The pot is then taken off the coals and set on a special coaster to “rest”. This allows the grounds to settle to the bottom.

While the coffee is resting, food is served, particularly popcorn and special bread, sometimes kolo, a roasted grain and peanut snack, and fruit. Either the guest or the oldest person present cuts the bread.

The coffee ceremony is a time when the women work on their handwork and catch up on the latest news and gossip. Here, Asnakech is spinning cotton.

Incense is also burned in a small burner with a clump of charcoal from the main fire. The small coffee cups (think the size of a Chinese tea cup) have a heaping teaspoon of sugar put in them and then the coffee is poured and served. It is traditional to have 3 cups of coffee at a coffee ceremony, so more water is added to the grounds in the pot and again brought to a boil.

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