One special day, I was invited to one of the most unique ceremonies in the world, yet the most common in Ethiopia: The Coffee Ceremony. A young woman, wrapped around with a thin white traditional Ethiopian dress, was sitting on top of a mini platform with decorations and equipment needed for the ceremony. As the lady was preparing for the ceremony to serve people with the exclusive cup of coffee, my family and I sat on mini wooden chairs in front of the platform. The woman cordially welcomed us in Amharic and even politely invited me to take a photo with her as memorabilia.
As all traditions have histories behind their formation and preservation, this Coffee Ceremony also has a unique reason as to why it has become a part of the daily routine of all Ethiopians. Ethiopia in fact is a country that proudly stands as the nation where coffee originated and was thus probably an integral part of its culture since long ago. Not only so, it also has a religious significance: it is believed to transform one’s spirit during its three rounds which are performed usually in the morning, afternoon, and evening. It is customary for women to perform the ceremony by welcoming a visitor as a sign of friendship and respect. Thus, as new “visitors” of Ethiopia, the young lady warmly greeted my family and I to this meaningful ceremony.
|[A picture of the performer of the ceremony and
I sitting on the platform where the ceremony took place,
photo taken by Ga Yun (Lynna) Kim’s family]
The process of the Coffee Ceremony was also very fascinating. The performance first started by roasting fresh coffee beans on top of heated stones, unlike using already roasted beans; this very first step plays a great role in adding on to the fresh flavor of the coffee. After roasting the coffee beans for a while, the young woman rotated around the large basket of roasted coffee beans, allowing our family to inhale its special scent. The burnt smell of freshly roasted coffee beans tingled my nostrils and watered my mouth. When we asked the woman where the coffee was from, she answered that it was probably from Oromia, a regional state of Ethiopia which is famous for its coffee production. The performer continued on by manually grinding the coffee with a wooden masher, creating hand-made ground coffee for the ceremony. At that moment, water in a tall ceramic kettle, placed on top of coal and stones, was boiling, signaling for the final steps of the performance to happen. As a response to that, the woman poured some of the ground coffee into the kettle and finally the coffee was ready.
Along with a full basket of popcorn sprinkled with sugar, the young woman served us with very small handle-less cups. It contained coffee that appeared almost black which shocked me as I expected it to be dark brown. When I took a sip, the purely extracted coffee was so bitter that it tasted like an oriental herbal medicine with a tint of dark chocolate. Even though I was not a coffee-lover, I immediately fell in love with its deep and pungent flavor which remained in my mouth for a long time. Without hesitation, I went for another sip to feel that sensation once again. After that day, I was invited to several more coffee ceremonies by close families living in the city. Every time, I fell in love with its burnt aroma and rich flavor, and I could understand why Ethiopia still stands as one of the countries with the best coffee.
|[The cups of coffee that the woman prepared for us
during the coffee ceremony, photo taken by Ga Yun (Lynna) Kim]
Ga Yun (Lynna) Kim
International Community School of Addis Ababa
Ga Yun (Lynna) Kim email@example.com
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