Birthplace of Coffee
It is said that coffee was
discovered in Ethiopia.  And, by
it's importance in Ethiopian
tradition and social life I'm not
surprised.  Every decent
Ethiopian restaurant or bar will
have a beautiful coffee maid.
There have been a number of
times when I stumbled out of the
bush into  after a long walk into
a small farming village, where
the farmer's wife won't offer me
water or food but coffee.  A
traditional Ethiopian coffee
ceremony can take 2-3 hours.  
There are lots of important
aspects to the ritual. The women
of the house always prepares it,
often a young woman.   Women
have to wear dresses (one of my
female expat colleagues asked
to do it and everyone promptly
told her that she need to put on
a dress.  It is improper for the
woman making coffee to where
pants .... They've got to look
pretty), there is often a coffee kit
which includes the pot, mortar
and pestle, roasting pan, 4
espresso size cups, tea spoons,
coal pot, raw coffee beans and
sugar.  Before she unpacks the
kit she spreads palm frond, long
grass, or green branches with
flowers across the floor.  She
unpacks the kit lights and fans
the fire.  Once the coals are
ready  she'll take out a hand full
of pale olive raw beans and
roast them in a shaking motion
over the coals.  When beans
have blackened she will sift
through, with a toss here or
there, to find any beans with a
touch of green.  Any speck of
color will bitter the brew.  It is
customary to walk around the
room and waft the smoke by the
guests who will welcome
chocolaty smoke up to their
olfactory glands with a wave of
their wrists.  She will pound the
beans, cup the powder and
ease coffee down the narrow
neck of the pot, add water and
place it on the coals.  As the
brew boils it climbs the chimney
of the pot at which time the
woman makes a rising tall pour
into a plastic cup to allow the air
to cool it down and returns the
coffee to it pot.  Meanwhile, the
guests chat and she cooks and
serves popcorn coated with a
dash of sugar and maybe some
biscuits on the side.  Finally, the
coffee is ready.  It is served in
small cups half full with sugar.  
She give a gentle stir and
passes cup to the guests.  Each
guest states there jubilation with
a hardy "T'um buna" (delicious
coffee)  If one guest does not
reply she will throw out the
coffee and start again to ensure
she pleases everyone. As the
guest continue to joke and talk
she adds water for the second
and third rounds.  Picks up the
cups that the guest lay on the
ground in the midst of
conversation and cleans them
for the next serving.  When all is
done she wraps up the sugar
and coffee and places them with
the cups back into her kit.

I'm not much of a coffee drinker
but I do enjoy a cup of joe
during these occasions.  It
always has a nice chocolate
nutty flavor.  It's delightful.  In
addition there is a nice café
environment.  Even in the
smallest towns you can get
traditional coffee or espressos
and macchiatos.  You can't go
More faces from Tigray
Making Enjera
Another important aspect of Ethiopian culture is enjera, which is the bread that sauces are placed on for every meal.  Enjera is often
made with teff, an indigineous grain.  Making the bread is a two day process.  It needs to ferment to give its sour dough flavor.  When it is
ready, it is poured as a large pancake over a hot clay disc.