Snapshot in Time: Ceremonial Coffee in Ethiopia

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The coffee ceremony is an integral facet of Ethiopian and Eritrean life. Should a visitor spend any time in the Horn of Africa they’ll doubtless encounter it; from the franchise stores to the little roadside shacks, coffee is an immutable everpresent. (Pedant Editor: That’s tautologous).

It’s a ritualistic device, typically performed by the woman of the household and considered an honour in which to partake. Green beans are roasted over open flames and then ground in a pestle and mortar. Next, they are transferred to a pot and boiled with water before being thoroughly ground and put through a sieve. Finally, the host pours the coffee into small, handleless cups. The ceremony complete, participants are left with a glimpse into the importance of small but vital everyday rites.

The boiling pot symbolises the ceremony. Known as a jebena, the unique clay vessel’s languorous curves and, in Ethiopia at least, its long spout imbibes coffee with a singular taste. Never too strong, never too sweet, never too hot, here is a beverage which encapsulates the taste of its mother country.

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