What is Ethiopia Coffee? Ethiopia is regarded as the home and the birthplace of coffee and to this day reports for 70% of the export earnings in the country. It’s very vivid and distinctive in flavor.
The way they appreciate Ethiopia coffee back in the home of coffee is completely different to anywhere else in the world.
We’ll be filling you in on the background and history of Ethiopian coffee, letting you know how to make it and how to drink it (the right way), and guide you on everything you’ll need to know about it.
Background & History of Ethiopia coffee
Some speculate that coffee was discovered in Ethiopia as far back as the ninth century.
Experts tell the made-up story of an Ethiopian legend called Kaldi, a goat herder who discovered coffee by noticing how much stamina and energy his goats had after eating the cherries of coffee.
He shared his findings with a local monastery, who declared they were the devil’s work and threw them into the fire, where the incredible smell tempted them to change their mind.
They then put boiling water over them to brew and discovered how great it was for giving them more energy to pray during the middle of the night.
Whilst this is a fictitious story, it encompasses the history and culture of the coffee itself. It was probably the Oromo or Galla tribe who discovered coffee.
Coffee rearing in Ethiopia has faced many challenges due to war struck land and economic downfalls but still remains to be the largest export of coffee in the world.
There was a large amount of time where farmers and women in the industry were not compensated well for their work, but now there are fair trade organizations that ensure they are paid properly and that to help build businesses.
Ethiopian’s love and role in coffee are reflected in their language and is not always just associated with coffee itself, it’s integrated into language whilst socializing about life and relationships.
A popular phrase is ‘Buna Tetu’ which literally translates as ‘Drink Coffee’ which can be used in that essence, but it is most commonly used as the western world would say ‘let’s meet up for a coffee’.
To this day, coffee is an inherent part of Ethiopian culture and over twelve million people in the East African nation help pick and rear coffee for their own consumption and for the rest of the world.
How to make it?
You’ll want to get green coffee beans and rinse them in cool water, removing any beans that look weird, shake off the water and then put them in a pan (not a nonstick) on a medium-low heat and wait till they pop and turn dark brown (you can have them as dark as you like).
You’ll want to stir them continuously and shake the pan. You can grind the beans by manually by hand if you’d like to do it the traditional way, or you can use an electric grinder.
You can then brew the ground coffee as you normally would (the traditional way is stated later in the article). You can then serve your traditional Ethiopian coffee in small cups and with lots of sugar.
What does it taste like?
Ethiopian coffee has about ten thousand varieties, but the most popular and commonly grown type of coffee is arabica coffee which is mild and aromatic.
Ethiopian coffee is a blend of fruited and floral flavors and is highly acidic, whilst having a light to medium body.
You taste hints of jasmine, blueberry, and bergamot in the aftertaste of the nation’s coffee, but in general, they are heavier and more wine-like than coffees elsewhere in the world.
The coffee ceremony
The coffee ceremony is Ethiopia’s most important social connection and signifies great respect and friendship within communities.
The Ethiopian coffee ceremony is traditionally hosted by the youngest women in the family and children are often involved, serving the coffee out to elderly guests.
The ceremony lasts from 2-3 hours and it is not uncommon for a family to have this ceremony 2-3 times a day.
There is a greater significance to the coffee ceremony, as the history of coffee has a rich history with Islam, it is said that the spirit is transformed and evolved 3 times during the ceremony.
Before beginning the brewing part of the ceremony, the woman will spread aromatic flowers across the floor and = will continuously burn incense throughout the ceremony to scare off any evil spirits.
The ceremony involves coffee beans washed and then being roasted in a pan, then ground down by using a mortar and a pestle, then brewing slowly in a pottery bowl called a jebena over an open fire.
The coffee is taken with lots of sugar but milk is not typically distributed.
The social side is spent catching up on the community, politics, and just general life with family or any invited guests and importantly, everyone will spend time praising the host for their coffee and its flavor.
More water will then be added to the pot to brew two more times until it is all gone. Each serving is called abol, tona, and baraka. The third brew is said to be a blessing for all those that drink it, despite it being incredibly weak.
The hostess sometimes adds cardamon or other spices to their coffee and those who live out in the country often add salt instead of sugar.
Snacks can sometimes accompany the coffee, one of the most common being a roasted grain mix called Kolo. However, the primary purpose is ‘Buna Tetu’ e.g drink coffee and socialize.
In the west the ceremony is still practiced, however, they use espresso machines to speed up the process.