Coffee Ceremony

A Big Deal in Ethiopia

by Dale Fisher

Ethiopia, West Africa

On my recent visit to Ethiopia, I discovered that drinking coffee and participating in a coffee ceremony are big deals for Ethiopians. At the Transformational Leadership Movement training center, we took two coffee breaks per day, eating roasted barley and peanuts as we sipped and enjoyed their coffee. These were good times that allowed us to fellowship with the trainees, get to know them better, and discuss the materials that were presented each day.

The affinity for coffee is probably because coffee naturally grows wild in Ethiopian forests; people readily pick wild coffee beans in forests. Little did I know that coffee is grown in Ethiopia!

Aside from drinking coffee daily, Ethiopians prize their country's coffee ceremony. An elaborate process, usually prepared by a woman, the national ceremony starts with processing and roasting raw coffee beans, ending with drinking freshly brewed coffee.

In a coffee ceremony that I experienced in a restaurant there, the ceremony started when a hostess put a small amount of incense on a charcoal fire. When we watched the coffee ceremony at the TLM training center, the incense part was omitted.

What I found interesting about this ceremony was learning that Ethiopians routinely eat freshly popped popcorn during every coffee ceremony!

The photos that I present below take you, step by step, through the Ethiopian traditional coffee ceremony. I hope that you'll my photos "good to the last drop."

They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer (Acts 2:42).
Raw coffee from Ethiopia poured into an open hand

Starting with Raw Coffee

The coffee ceremony in Ethiopia begins by using whole, raw, green coffee beans, along with a mixture of broken pieces.

Raw coffee beans roasting over a charcoal fire

Dry Roasting

Stan Gabriel, one of Dale's team members, watches Almaz (a trainee) roast raw coffee beans over a charcoal fire until dry.

Here, Almaz uses a six-inch-diameter iron pan with tiny holes that apparently help with the dry-roast process.

Once all the beans have been roasted, the next process is undertaken.

Pounding and grinding roasted coffee beans with a mortise and pestle

Pounding and Grinding

After the beans have been roasted, they get mashed into coffee grounds, not with an electric grinder but with only a mortar and pestle! A steel pestle grinds beans in a wooden mortar.

The pestle used at the training center measured nearly 8 inches in length and approximately 1 inch in diameter. Solid steel, the pestle reminded Dale of an automobile axle.

The grinding step takes a few minutes.

Coffee steam seeps from the spout atop an earthenware coffeepot

The Coffeepot

Ethiopia's coffee pot is earthenware, usually brown or black. On its top sits a stopper with a tube that has a small hole in its tip. As the coffee heats up, steam is blown out through the tip while the aroma tantalizes one's taste buds.

Soon, the coffeepot, filled with heated coffee, is placed on a thick, iron ring (shown in the next photo) for approximately 7 minutes, allowing the brewed coffee to steep while the grounds settle.

Ethiopian coffee is poured into a narrow coffee cup


Almaz is delighted to pour freshly brewed coffee while all the trainees and teachers and Dale eagerly watch and wait.

Note the black ring next to the tray, beneath the pot, that the coffeepot sat upon during the 7-minute steeping process.

Ah. Ethiopian coffee ceremony's end product is dark and strong; very tasty

Preparing to Enjoy

The American guests were the first to be served.

The Ethiopian coffee ceremony's end product is dark and strong; very tasty!

An TLM team member grins with delight as he sips his tasty coffee

Drinking and Enjoying

Ted Martin, one of Dale's fellow team members, enjoys his freshly and ceremonially brewed coffee --- along with a helping of popcorn. This final "drinking and enjoying" step can take a long time!

another Christian fish with a cross

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