Ethiopian Coffee Ceremony in Phoenix: A Different Kind of After Dinner Drink
For most of us the ceremony of drinking coffee means brewing a pot of joe in the morning and sipping it over the daily news, or more likely as we run out the door on our way to work.
Lauren Saria Abebech Ejersa pours coffee during a tradtional coffee ceremony
But in Ethiopia a coffee ceremony is one of the most integral parts of community life. The hours-long process takes the coffee bean through its full life cycle of preparation and the good news is, you can get the experience right here in the Valley.
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At Ethiopian Famous Restaurant and Coffee you can catch the unforgettable aroma of roasting beans on Saturdays and Sundays between 5 and 8 p.m. The ritual can take anywhere between one to three hours and involves washing, roasting, smelling, brewing and enjoying three servings of traditionally prepared strong coffee.
To begin the ceremony, owner Abebech Ejersa dons traditional clothing as shown in the numerous posters depicting the ceremony that hang on the walls of the restaurant. Taking her place at the small alter-like space dedicated specifically to making coffee, she lights incense and sets out large plates of Ethiopian bread called injera and freshly roasted popcorn.
Then the fun begins. The process starts by washing and then roasting the coffee beans over a burner, right before guests' eyes. As the beans turn from a light green to the more familiar dark brown color, the room grows smoky and scented with the smell coffee. If for some reason you can't quite catch the scent, don't worry. Ejersa will make a circle of the restaurant, wafting the scent around and offering the pan to each of the tables to take in.
Traditionally, the beans would then be ground with a brick and mortar but for time and convenience Ejersa takes them in the back to be processed. When she returns they are placed inside a traditional pottery vessel called a jebena to be boiled...and boiled...and boiled.
See a video of the Ethiopian coffee ceremony on the next page.