Ethiopian Coffee Ceremony
Traditional Ethiopian food injera, tebs, tef
Ethiopian coffee ceremony is unique, and a mark of hospitality for visitors. Coffee was first grown in Ethiopia, and Ethiopians give it the respect it deserves with the coffee ceremony.
Traditional Ethiopian foods injera, tebs, tef have much to offer the gastronomically adventurous traveler: Tef is a unique Ethiopian grain used to make traditional and also uniquely Ethiopian flatbread called injera; tebs is a spicy meat dish.
Italy also left its culinary legacy, and pasta dishes (simple, fairly bland tomato sauce and pasta) are widely offered, as are scrambled eggs for breakfast with hot, strong coffee, and local cheeses for sandwiches. Breads and pastries are generally very good, and served with butter and local fruit jams. Around Lake Tana at Bahir Dar and Gonder), be sure to try the local fish. At Addis Ababa restaurants, you'll find a wide variety of cuisines. [see coffee beans Costa Rica.]
Setting the Scene for the Ethiopian Coffee Ceremony
At the National Hotel in west Addis (not the same National hotel mentioned on the Addis Ababa page), the staff arranged to present the traditional Ethiopian coffee ceremony.
Some furniture was moved aside at one end of the dining room, and this small, low table was placed on a patterned carpet.
Sweet green grass and flowers were strewn over the carpet, and on the table top.
Ethiopian coffee Ceremony ~ Ready to start
After the grasses and flowers were arranged, a dozen or more small cups with saucers were laid on the table.
Then, a small brazier -- a small charcoal stove -- and small steel pot were brought out.
The person (at home, the host) sits on a small stool near the brazier.
The coffee beans are placed into the small pot, and put over the fire to roast.
Ethiopian Coffee Ceremony roasting coffee beans on brazier
An incense (a type of gum called etan) is periodically tossed into the brazier coals (or into an incense burner). That incense is what makes the smoky haze that blurs the picture. As the beans roast, they, too, give off smoke.
It's considered polite to waft the smoke towards you to show how you are enjoying the aroma.
Once the beans were roasted, they were then sent to the kitchen to be ground. Traditionally, beans are ground with a mortar and pestle. I don't know what was used in this case.
The ground coffee beans and water were then boiled in another pot on the brazier, then each guest is offered the requisite three small cups of coffee, with milk and sugar if they like.
Three cups are traditionally set aside for the ancestors.
Yes, after three cups of this strong brew, you get quite a buzz! Popcorn or another snack is served with the coffee.
Roasted Ethiopian coffee beans ready to be ground
This is how the roasted beans looked before being ground in the kitchen.
The roasted beans were tipped from the roasting pot onto a clean china plate.
The variations in colour and doneness are evident in this photo.
Aksum Ethiopia Coffee Stand
Although quite a different presentation than the elaborate coffee ceremony in Addis Ababa, this woman in Aksum, near St. Mary of Zion Church, served wonderfully welcomed cups she brewed from her simple roadside stand.
We were here late afternoon on Coptic Christmas Eve, and there were few customers.
Though in Ethiopian homes, a coffee ceremony is offered as a sign of friendship and respect, as this was not a traditional coffee ceremony, none of the usual rite was observed.
Traditional Ethiopian foods ~ a closer look
Typical Ethiopian foods are served on crepe-like injera, made from tef, a grain high in protein that's native to the Ethiopian Highlands.
In other areas of Ethiopia, or in restaurants in North America, injera may be made from millet flour.
Depending on the day of the week, you are asked for your preference of foods -- 'non-fasting' (with meat) or 'fasting' (vegetarian).
Traditional Ethiopian foods table setting with tebs
This photo was taken in the dining room of the National Hotel where we had the coffee ceremony.
The food was served as shown, family style.
The tebs is in the bowl, bottom right.
To eat the foods on the platter, use a pice of the injera (the rolled crepes in the picture).
Using your hands, tear off a small piece of injera, then use it like tongs to pick up a mouthful of various grain, vegetable and meat dishes on the plate.
Some recipes can be very spicy, so be cautious.
And go easy on the injera, as tends to sit heavy on the stomach. Really.
New York New York restaurant in Addis Ababa
One night, we stopped in to join the crowds at New York New York restaurant, in Addis Ababa.
It's a great, busy fun place to go for a meal.
The menu includes hamburgers and pizza, Ethiopia style, for those who wish a taste of fast food home, or for Ethiopians who want to try western food.
This layered fruit drink is made from fresh juice and pureed fruit, and cost 10 Ethiopian birr, about $1.15 US.
Fruit juices in general were good in most places, though occasionally the fresh orange juice needed a bit of sugar.
Mango juice is fairly thick, like a smoothie.
Another night, we went to a very good Chinese food restaurant near the Ghion Hotel in downtown Addis.