The coffee bean was first discovered in the Kaffa region of Ethiopia around 800 A.D. As legend states, a goat herder named Kaldi discovered the bean by way of his goats.
When the goats ate the beans and leaves of the coffee tree they became hyperactive, which made Kaldi curious enough to try it himself. Excited by the surge of energy the beans gave him, he took them to a nearby monastery to show the monks. However, instead of sharing in his joy, the monks rebuked Kaldi for bringing the evil stimulus and threw the beans into a burning fire.
As the beans started to burn the monks became intoxicated by the aroma and decided to forgive Kaldi and gave the coffee beans a chance.They soon discovered that by chewing the roasted beans before their nightly prayers they were able to stay awake and alert. Some time later, it was discovered that the roasted bean could be ground and brewed into a hot drink and thus “buna” was born.
For Ethiopians, the coffee ceremony, which takes place at least once a day, is an important social event that brings people of the family or community together. It is an important cultural ritual that’s been passed from generation to generation. Many people are addicted not only to the coffee itself, but also drawn to the long and beautiful ceremony which gave societies a chance to communicate and share ideas. They discuss what is going on around them, in their country and in the world, discuss philosophies, politics and virtually every topic under this planet.
The ceremony is commonly started by washing the coffee beans to remove their husks and other debris. Then they are roasted using a long-handled pan on a small fire contained in a stone oven. The beans are shaken rhythmically in the pan to prevent scorching. As the seeds heat, they darken, become shiny with their own oils and begin to make a popping sound. At this point, the hostess removes the beans from the heat and waves the pan to create an aromatic breeze for the guests to appreciate. Then the coffee beans are pounded to a fine powder and put into boiling water in a special local coffee pot called “Jebena”, which is made from clay. Coffee will be ready to serve when steam starts to come out of the nozzle with an attractive aroma. Then, the ‘Jebena’ sits for about three minutes before starting to pour into cups. This process is to let the powder settle at the bottom. The coffee is now ready to be served in small cups.
In Ethiopia, coffee is served in three rounds during a single coffee ceremony. The first round is called ‘Abole’. After the first round or ‘Abole’ is served, the second round is prepared by pouring the required amount of water in the same ‘Jebena’ and boiling it again. Obviously, this gives a less concentrated coffee than ‘Abole. This will be served as second round. This round is called “Tona” or “Huletegna”. Finally, the third round is prepared similarly by pouring the required amount of water as done for the second round. This time, the coffee will be much softer. This round could be served to children as well. The final round is called “Bereka” or “Sostegna”.
Coffee Ceremony and the CSP Mothers
The culture of the coffee ceremony is incorporated in every CSP project in order to strengthen the social ties of the mothers with each other. Mothers meet every week at the project centre in order to learn the Bible, attend trainings, play with their children and discuss various issues. The project staff recognize the benefit of the coffee ceremony to facilitate open discussion and assignsone of the mothers to host the ceremony.
According to Ato Dagne, ETCS16 team lead, the coffee ceremony is held at the centre once a month with all the mothers present and once a week in the mothers’ homes during group meeting. Mothers, since they have passed through similar problems, find it easy to discuss issues openly and share experiences. Therefore, the coffee ceremony aids the communication process and opens doors for many issues to come to light. Moreover, the ceremony has also been a good means for the CSP team to learn about the challenges of the mothers and to come up with solutions together.
Story and photos by Tigist Gizachew, ET Field Communication Specialist