Ethiopian Coffee Ceremony

Of the many great things about Ethiopia their Coffee is one that certainly stands out.  When I reflected on Ethiopia before going again this year I always thought back to any of the towns and villages Colleen and I stayed at many years ago and the fact that no matter how remote we felt, coffee and the coffee ceremony was a respected daily event.  I can still close my eyes and remember being in any small corner of the country and they would still offer a cappuccino or fresh brewed cup.  It may sound overly romantic but smell and taste are two senses that can remind me of nearly any special trip or place.  Coffee just happens to be one of my favourite things to enjoy, having three kids it’s a very important part of my day.

I didn’t know this until I stumbled on this fact while window shopping at,  so for all those that don’t know this about Ethiopia, don’t feel too bad about your history knowledge. It Turns out that during and around the Second World War the Italians attempted to colonize Ethiopia.  This attempt did not last but a few years for various reasons but one thing the Italians left was some of their cultural influences like Espresso.  So seeing a glorious commercial sized Italian espresso machine in any little meeting place was not uncommon, seemingly out of place, but not uncommon.

On this trip, the four of us, Klaus, Matthias, Armin and I found ourselves experiencing the coffee ceremony on nearly a daily basis, sometimes twice in a day.  After all the exploring, walking and hiking it was equally as special.  Sitting in a small room with some local people and villagers that we would tour with and meet it was a great chance to talk,learn about the culture and sit back and just watch the process of preparing the coffee.  I know we take it for granted, coffee lovers that is, having fresh roasted beans at our disposal when we want them, but this was pretty exciting.

This post was intended for the coffee lover, or the hack Barista like myself.  I’m not going to risk plagiarizing the many resources out on the web as to the complete coffee ceremony but I will briefly mention the steps involved and the images will tell the story.  Starting with the roasting of fresh beans as they were roasted traditionally in front of your eyes.

 Here are a few images of the roasting process:

After the beans were fully roasted our hostess would display them on a platter of some fashion and fan the beans sending the fantastic scent through the room.  I believe this was a gesture for the visors to enjoy the aroma before going forward.

Here is a couple of images that reflect that:

The next stage was to place the fresh roasted beans in a container or vessel and continue to grind the beans by hand.  I felt pretty lazy watching this stage and using my burr grinder at home just doesn’t feel right after watching her work so hard.

 here are a few images of the hand grinding of the coffee beans:

After the beans were fully ground they were transferred to a boiling pot where the final stage of the coffee preparation would take place.  It would be boiled along with water and poured three times using all of the potential coffee.  The first cup was extremely strong, like twitchy eye strong where as the third cup was very weak.  Often the coffee was served along with incense.  Enjoy the images and please let me know what you thought.  A selected few of these images will also be available for sale so please don’t hesitate to enquire if you are interested.

Here are a few shots of the boiling, pouring and coffee: