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 definitely tautologous).

It’s a ritualistic device, typically performed by the woman of the household and considered an honour to partake in. Green beans are roasted over open flames before they are ground in a pestle and mortar. Next, they are transferred to a special 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 an indelible 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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