Ethiopian Coffee Ceremony Photocredit: Clive Chilvers / Courtesy of Shutterstock.com
The Ethiopian people love coffee too, and not just because it factors hugely in their economy, as Peter Lemieux writes in this interesting piece:
For centuries, Ethiopians have cultivated coffee and, with it, a coffee culture.
According to tradition, an Ethiopian goat herder named Kaldi from the province of Kafa was the first man to discover coffee. Born around the year 650, he lived during the waning years of the Christian Aksumite Empire. A husband, father of two daughters, and foster parent to an orphaned nephew, Kaldi one day noticed his flock of goats dancing energetically. He determined the cause of their peculiar behavior to be the red coffee drupes they nibbled off nearby bushes. He took some of the fruit home, and he and his family began experimenting with them for culinary use.
When his nephew, Giorgis, entered the local Orthodox monastery, he shared his family’s coffee roasting recipe. The monks enjoyed the drink and soon made a habit of offering it to brothers visiting from other monasteries across Ethiopia. Eventually, word of the delightful drink reached the monasteries of the Byzantine Empire and, in time, the rest of the world.
Proud of this heritage, Ethiopians of all backgrounds and creeds celebrate coffee, and regard drinking it as an important social event.
Many families, especially in small or rural communities, regularly take turns hosting traditional coffee ceremonies. Generally, the woman of a household invites her female friends and neighbors for an afternoon coffee. The tradition requires she roast the coffee beans by hand over a coal furnace. On her hands and knees, she smashes the roasted beans in a mukcha, or heavy wooden bowl. She then places the fresh grounds in a jebena, or clay pot, and adds hot water to brew a rich, distinctly Ethiopian coffee. In towns, often the coffee is served with fresh popcorn.
The women dress in traditional clothes and often gather in the hostess’s yard, where she lays freshly cut grass and burns incense. For a couple of hours, the women will drink coffee and enjoy each other’s conversation before returning home.
The importance of coffee in Ethiopian culture corresponds to its central role in the nation’s economy. Coffee beans account for up to 60 percent of Ethiopia’s total revenue from exports each year. More than half of the coffee beans produced in Ethiopia are tagged for export. Most end up in markets and restaurants in the Arabian Peninsula, Europe, Japan, and North America.
As much as a quarter of the nation’s 85 million people depend directly or indirectly on the coffee industry for their livelihoods.
As Glenn Reynolds at Instapundit often says: is there anything coffee can’t do? It’s not only good, and good for us, but it’s capable of propping up a nation’s economy and enhancing it’s social culture! If only coffee could run for office!
And yes, reading the piece got me wondering if the Mystic Monks offered Ethiopian coffee.
Why yes, yes, they do — a delicious-sounding organic coffee that is also fair-trade!