A couple years ago, my husband and I had the chance to celebrate the Fourth of July with some good friends. There were six of us total (three couples), and we met at our friend’s house for a special treat.
One of our crew had just recently returned from a trip to Ethiopia. She and her husband are in process of adopting an adorable baby boy and she had to make a visit to work through the paperwork with the local courts.
While in country visiting her baby son and patiently working though the long process, she was treated on several occasions to the Ethiopian coffee ceremony.
On our Fourth of July holiday, she wanted to share this ceremony with us, her friends.
About the coffee ceremony, here’s a quote from Ethiopian ambassador Haile-Giros Gessesse:
“Coffee has social value in our society. It is deep rooted in our culture. The coffee ceremony in local areas is used mainly for social gatherings. In the mornings and evenings parents, especially mothers gather together for a coffee ceremony and also use it as a platform for exchanging information in their surroundings. It is a means of communication. When people sit down they usually spend three hours finalizing the ceremony, starting with the preparation, and then roasting to brewing it.”
Our friend had hauled home a big bag of green coffee beans, water hulled (the good stuff) not fire hulled, and we sat outside in the beautiful sun while she told us about the ceremony.
First, she roasted the beans on the grill. We watched as she shook and swirled the pan, much like a slow Jiffy pop motion.
When we all agreed that it looked like the beans were at a good medium roast each of us took in a whiff of the fantastic aroma from the pan.
Then we took turns using a mortar and pestle to smash the beans down to a nice grind. Every person took their turn and everyone contributed.
It was satisfying work to smash, smash, smash those crispy beans and release the beautiful scent and oils.
Once ready, the grinds were placed into a French press and once brewed, a round of coffee was poured into six cups.
This fresh roasted coffee was delicious! It had a floral aroma and tasted so light and mild. This coffee was perfect with just a touch of sugar and nothing else.
In keeping with tradition, we had three rounds of coffee while we discussed our lives, the news of the day, baseball, and got caught up with each other. This is an essential part of the ceremony, sharing community, support, and friendship.
Now, I love a great cup of coffee, but I rarely drink caffeinated coffee. After three cups I was ready to clean my house top to bottom, jog a thousand miles, and throw a 98mph fastball.
But it was a happy caffeinated high shared with dear friends.
I was honored to be a part of the ceremony and I can hardly wait until our friends bring home their baby boy. I hope to we can continue to give him a sense of community and family, maybe even over a cuppa or two…or three.
– Karen Fayeth
© 2013, essay, Karen Fayeth, All rights reserved
Photo and quote from a CRIEnglish.com article by Wei Tong.
KAREN FAYETH ~ is one of our regular writers. She is our tech manager, site co-administrator along with Jamie and Terri, and fiction and creative nonfiction editor. She blogs at Oh Fair New Mexico. Born with the writer’s eye and the heart of a story-teller, Karen Fayeth’s work is colored by the Mexican, Native American, and Western influences of her roots in rural New Mexico complemented by a growing urban aesthetic. Karen now lives in the San Francisco Bay area. When she’s not spinning a tale, she works as a senior executive for science and technology research organization.
Karen has won awards for her writing, photography, and art. Recent publication credits include a series of three features in New Mexico magazine and an essay with the online magazine Wild Violet. Her latest short story “Quick, Quick Slow” was published in the May edition of Foliate Oak. Karen’s photography is garnering considerable attention, her photo titled “Bromance” (featuring Aubry Huff and Pat Burrell) was featured on MLB Network’s Intentional Talk hosted by Chris Rose and Kevin Millar.
8 thoughts on “For the Love of a Good Cuppa”
Brought back memories of a church potluck(!) shared with the Center for East African Community Affairs–we share space in the same building. Thank you!
This is one of those lovely stories that show what pleasure there is in reaching out and enjoying the customs of other cultures . . . bringing people from other countires “home,” appreciating their humanity … and building good memories with friends, the sort of memories that keep us sweet and strong.
This is lovely, Karen. For me it underlines the value of ritual in so many cultures, ways of bringing us together.
Hi Victoria – Thanks you for the comment. It was wonderful to share the cultural connection with this new little boy who was going to enter our lives. He’s now a thriving almost three year old and is a joy to be around.
Hi Jaime – Lovely comment, poetic in its own right! I look forward to sharing a cuppa with you soon.
cloakedmonk – Yes! Very much like a church potluck and sharing that sense of community over food. Very engaging.
Love this. I have always enjoyed cuisine from many cultures. In the US it seems that ritual is scarce. Too bad because it enriches the experience of the day.