Traditional coffee ceremony

The SIDAMA region:

Today we checked into the beautiful Aregash Lodge. A cozy lodge located in the Sidama mountains. The owner, Gregory, informed us that the lodge consists of forty lush acres. A beautiful landscape home to large hyenas, antelope, monkeys, and a two-hundred-year-old tortoise which Susanne named “Tommy The Tortoise.”

Later that evening, the groundskeeper had us gather to watch him feed the hyenas their evening supper (insert wide-eyed expression here). This was quite the experience, but nothing compared to the hike, which would later come the following morning, which involved up close and personal interaction with the hyena den (insert an even more wide-eyed expression here).

Although the focus of this vision story may seem to be about hyenas, I assure you it is not…

This is a story about the traditional coffee ceremony performed by the women of Ethiopia several times a day.

My first start-to-finish experience would take place amongst the lush landscape surrounding the Aregash Lodge with the adorable wild monkeys, of course, overlooking the serene mountains.

A lovely woman gently washed the authentic coffee beans, followed by a strategically timed roasting process. After roasting them flawlessly, she walked around to let us smell the robust fragrance emitting from the beans.

I learned that pulling the smoke toward you with both hands is customary as you inhale the intoxicating aroma.

She then ground the hot beans in a mukecha (wooden bowl) with a zene zena (grinding mallet)

She infused all her energy and love into this process.  Once the beans were ground into a perfect powder, she used her hands to gently pour the powder into a jebena pot (traditional Ethiopian coffee pot). She then added a steady stream of water and gently placed the jebena pot deep into the hot coals.

As the coffee steeped, she burned some lovely traditional incense called Etan (A frankincense type incense). The entire area filled with the fragrant smoke.

Once the coffee was ready, she began to prepare the tiny cups with sequar (sugar), ensuring each had the perfect amount of sequar; she carefully poured the coffee into each cup. Once the cups were filled, she immediately walked around to pass them out without hesitation.

The cups of fresh coffee are extremely hot, so you have to hold the cup with your fingertips at the brim, where it is slightly cooler.

Preparing this traditional coffee takes quite some time. The preparer seems to slip into a trance as they pour all their love and intention into this process.

The finished product is a dark sultry blend of robust coffee dancing intimately with the perfect portion of sequar.

This traditional Ethiopian coffee ceremony is divine and unforgettable. But to experience this amongst the mountains in the beautiful Aregash Lodge; at nightfall, surrounded by wildlife, was beyond magical, and surely, I will cherish it always.

-Jamie Morris

Click HERE to view the Facebook post and video about the traditional coffee ceremony.