Ethiopian Coffee Ceremony – What Is It?!

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Coffee is a beloved beverage, with a majority of the population making it the drink of choice for their morning dose of energy.

Many countries appreciate a strong cup of coffee. In Africa, the Ethiopians adore it so much, that they have a ceremony specially dedicated to the beverage called the Ethiopian Coffee Ceremony.

What Is The Ethiopian Coffee Ceremony?

The Ethiopian coffee ceremony is a ritual that involves making, serving, and drinking coffee. Ethiopians perform it as part of their everyday life, whenever they invite family or friends over.

If you are new to the country, and get an invitation to the ceremony, it is a show of their hospitality and the fact that they are extending their friendship and respect to you. The ceremony takes place three times a day, usually during meals, with each one lasting for at least two hours.

What Is The Significance Of The Ethiopian Coffee Ceremony?

It can be nerve-racking to wonder why cups of coffee should entail such adoration. To the Ethiopians, the ceremony is a spiritual journey, founded on the belief that there is a relationship between coffee and Islam, one of their religions.

The ceremony, therefore, facilitates the transformation of one’s spirit through the steps involved. They place so much significance on coffee, that during the ceremony, you can hear them chanting “Buna Dabo naw”, which means “Coffee is our Bread”.

A Little History

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For such a ceremony to hold this much significance, it all dates back to the 10th century, when a herder by the name of Kaldi discovered coffee.

Kaldi noticed that his goats adopted a new lifestyle after eating berries from a particular tree; they would remain awake at night, and stay energetic during the day.

He found it odd, and reported the mystery to the chief monk of the Monastery, who decided to do away with the evil berries by throwing them into the fire.

However, the roasted berries had such a sweet aroma, that he had to get them out and make a drink from them to find out why the goats behaved as they did.

Whether the legend is true or a myth, the bottom line is that the Ethiopians place a lot of significance on their coffee.

What Steps Are In The Ethiopian Coffee Ceremony?

It all starts with a rekbot, where everyone gathers around. A rekbot resembles a box sitting on flowers and long scented grasses.

Handle-free cups, in which to serve the coffee, are placed on the rekbot, while the hostess dresses in traditional white attire for the ceremony. She roasts the coffee beans on a small charcoal fire, in a flat iron pan.

Your senses will heighten as the beans change from their greyish color to a deep brown color; your ears will listen to the rhythm of the roasting beans swirling in the pan, while your nose will enjoy the sweet aroma of roasting coffee beans.

The hostess leaves the beans to cool, and grinds them with the traditional mortar and pestle, or the modern coffee grinder. She places the ground beans in an earthen pot and pours boiling water in, placing the pot at an angle, such that the beans settle at the bottom as the drink brews.

The hostess then pours the coffee in the cups from high in the air, which helps to trap the coffee grinds in the pot. Such a performance requires lots of skills, lest she will burn her visitors. Guests may add sugar if they prefer, and praise the hostess for her skills, as they sip their drink.

There are 3 servings; Abol, Tona, and Baraka, and each becomes weaker than the last as they transform the spirit, with Baraka being a blessing to those who partake of it.


Now that you know how much coffee means to Ethiopians, you might as well start paying tribute to the beverage. After all, it gives you an instant energy kick in the morning, and takes you through the day.

Better still, when you decide to visit the country, be sure to get your third cup and receive blessings from the hospitable hostess.