This past weekend we attended an Ethiopian Heritage and Culture camp in Virginia. I will be writing about all that I learned for a while. I cannot convey what this weekend meant to us as a family and to Mita and Enu.
One of the firsts was sitting in on a coffee ceremony. It was one of the things we missed on our trip to Ethiopia in 2008. This ceremony was cut down a bit on time, but had all of the qualities of an Ethiopian Coffee Ceremony. It usually lasts for hours, we did ours in about 45 minutes. I will share some of what I learned and show you some pictures. I also picked up a great children’s book explaining the origin of coffee. It is designed for kids, but an informative read for us older folks as well.
First the coffee beans are roasted over an open fire, then ground by hand by the mother or older daughter of the family. The coffee is then prepared, cooked and poured by the woman of the house. The head male or female cuts the sweat bread and passes it around, along with some popcorn. There is incense burning during the entire ceremony and leaves or flower petals are on the floor for a pleasant atmosphere.
If you have never had this authentic Ethiopian coffee, be prepared! It is quite strong tasting and is served in small cups, much like Expresso is. Sugar, honey or milk can be added.
Hubby, Mita and I sat under the willow tree for the ceremony. I was happy that Mita came with us. The other girls were off with the clown and animal balloons, but Mita was content with us under the tree remembering things. She said that the incense smell was something she remembered and also shared with me that she used to grind the coffee beans. Two more bits of information from her earlier life that I will treasure! She even tasted some coffee with sugar and we got a great picture of her sipping!
The preparers and servers all were in Ethiopian dress and it was a good experience for us all.
The book Kaldi and The Dancing Goats: The Legend of Ethiopian Coffee by Sauda Mdahoma and illustrated by Sari Nordberg is a fun re-telling of the old story about how coffee was discovered in Ethiopia. After the story the author goes into detail about how to have a coffee ceremony and what the ceremony means to the Ethiopian people. I plan on reading this at my children’s school this coming year sometime. We brought back a coffee service set with us and I am so glad we did now. It means a lot more to me, since I have experienced the coffee ceremony and sipped some strong coffee!
Photo Credits: Mandy W. 2009