Ethiopian Coffee Ceremony … “For the Love of a Good Cuppa” by Karen Fayeth

An Ethiopian woman roasting coffee at a traditional ceremony. Photo courtesy of Sam Effron under CC BY-SA 2.0 license

A coffee ceremony is a ritualised form of making and drinking coffee. The coffee ceremony is one of the most recognizable parts of Arab, Eritrean and Ethiopian culture. Coffee is offered when visiting friends, during festivities, or as a daily staple of life. If coffee is politely declined then most likely tea (shai) will be served.  [Wikipedia]

FOR THE LOVE OF A GOOD CUPPA

by

Karen Fayeth

This year The Good Man 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 we all took in a whiff of the fantastic aroma from the pan.

We then took turns using a mortar and pestle to smash the beans down to a nice grind.

It was satisfying work to smash, smash, smash those crispy beans and release the beautiful scent and oils.

The grinds were then put into a French press and once brewed, a round of coffee was poured into six cups.

Yuuuummmm! It had a floral aroma and tasted so light and delicious. So amazing 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 part of the ceremony, the community, the support, the 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.

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·

© 2017, Karen Fayeth


(c) Karen Fayeth

Born with the eye of a writer and the heart of a story-teller, KAREN FAYTH‘s work is colored by the Mexican, Native American and Western influences of her roots in rural New Mexico and complemented by an evolving urban aesthetic. Karen now lives in the San Francisco Bay Area. When she’s not spinning a tale, she conducts business throughout the United States, Europe, Asia, and Central America. Karen has won awards for her writing, photography, and art. Recent publication credits include three features in New Mexico Magazine and short stories in Ragazine, The Griffin, Jet Fuel Review and The Tower.

Contact Karen at karen-at-karenfayeth.com or visit her blog at blog.karenfayeth.com

Writers and Their Cafès

WRITERS AND CAFÉS go together like coffee and a biscotto. Perhaps the connection started in the place where coffee houses first evolved, Ottoman Turkey. There it is said the men met over small, sweet cups of Turkish coffee to socialize and entertain one another with backgammon and poetry.

Later, when coffee came to Europe, the Viennese cafès were de facto office sites of many well-known writers. The Austrian journalist, Alfred Polgar (1873-1955), admired for his witt at Vienna’s Café Central, wrote that coffee houses were “a place where people want to be alone, but need company to do so.” Maybe writers needed the noise and the caffeine to keep up the will and energy to face one white page after another.

CAFÈ CENTRAL, Vienna

Boris Vian (1920-1959), the French polymath (his abiiities included writing and poetry) claimed that “if there had not been any cafés, there would have been no Jean-Paul Sartre.” That’s an exaggeration of course, but one with which we might agree makes its point. I’ve read that Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir hung-out in Paris at Les Deux Magots and Café de Flore. The former was also a favorite of Rimbaud.

We are told that Pushkin found courage in coffee – not alcohol – before his last and fatal duel in 1837 at The Literary Café in St. Petersburg. Byron, Casanova and Henry James had their favorite coffee houses in Vienna. Lorca met Dalí at the Cafe de Oriente in Madrid, and Kafka worked on Metamorphosis at the Café Stefan in Prague. Oscar Wilde was famous in coffee houses throughout Europe, though perhaps not for having pen in hand.

HEMINGWAY, HADLEY and Friends, American Ex-pats in Paris

The connection between writers and coffee houses was well established by the time the lost generation was meeting in Paris in the 1920s. Hemingway wrote about Cafe La Rotonde and Le Dome Cafe in The Sun Also Rises. He also frequented the Dingo Bar along with F. Scott Fitzgerald and Djuna Barnes.

The Pedrocchi Cafè  (1831) in Padua, like many of the old coffee houses, is still in operation and is one of the world’s largest. It was Stendhal’s home-away-from-home …

… and so the affinity continues into recent times. The Elephant House in Edinburg is the “birth place of Harry Potter.”

THE ELEPHANT HOUSE, Edinburg, “the birthplace of Harry Potter

Photo credits ~ Header photograph  selection of Bialetti moka pots at Koffiebranderij BOON in The Hague, by Takeaway under CC BY-SA 4.0. Next photo courtesy of morgueFileCafè Central and Hemingway and Friends are in the public domain and via Wikipedia. The Elephant House Cafè is courtesy of Nicolai Schäfer licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license via Wikipedia.

Lebanese Coffee, Cardamom Scented; featured writer, Freya Stark

“We found a little side valley for lunch, and made a salad and cooked the coffee.”

Letters From Syria, Freya Stark

A blend of dark coffee beans ground with cardamom, prepared in Lebanon, a Turkish ground

As a child I lived for a while with my Lebanese grandmother, my Sidto. Every Tuesday afternoon some of the ladies who traveled to the U.S. with her would come to visit. They’d bring store bought-cakes. This was a luxury and a delight. It was something they didn’t have to slave over.

My grandmother would serve coffee. Sometimes it was regular American coffee and sometimes it was Lebanese coffee, a sweet treat fragrant with cardamom. It is the cardamom that distinguishes Lebanese coffee from Turkish.

The coffee, called Al-Qahway in the Arabic, is integral to all entertaining, a hallmark of Lebanese hospitality, which is legendary.

Note: Generally I prefer and recommend purchasing whole beans, however Maaatouk is perfectly blended and ground, delicious and convenient.

 

Hand Hammered Thick Solid Copper Turkish Coffee Pot Small, Arabic Greek Stovetop Coffee Maker Ibrik Cezve Briki with Brass Handle

Lebanese coffee is prepared in a narrow, long-handled brass pot, called a rakweh, and then poured into a demitasse.

It is generally served sweet (mazbuhtah), moderately sweet (wahsat), very sweet (helwa) or, at funerals, bitter (murrrah).

This recipe is for two servings. Just multiply the ingredients to prepare the coffee for more people.  This is an easy prep process.  Don’t be intimidated.

The recipe

The ingredients:

For two demitasse cups, medium sweet:

water

2 tablespoons dark-roasted coffee, ground for Turkish Coffee

2 teaspoons organic sugar

2 cardamom pods

The preparation:

Pour two demitasse cupfuls of water into the rakweh. Bring the water to a boil, remove from heat, and add the coffee and sugar. Put the pot back on the heat.  The coffee will foam up.  Remove from heat and let the foam subside.  Add the cardamom pods. Put the pot back on the heat and let it foam again.  Remove from heat.  Let the foam subside.  Do the process once more. Pour into cups.  Drink hot, hot, hot.

This is my favorite set, not only because of the colors but we are a family of three: me and my son and my daughter-in law. Three Espresso & Famous Turkish Coffee Cafà Cup Mug.

“There is a certain madness comes over one at the mere sight of a good map.”

FREYA STARK (1893-1993) was an explorer and travel writer, an adventurous woman who was ahead of her times. As a child she was often ill and housebound. When on her nineth birthday, she recived a copy of One Thousand and One Nights, her facination with what was then called “the Orient” began. As an adult she lived in Lebanon and Iran and was the first Westerner to travel western Iran wilderness. She traveled in Southern Arabia, rare for a Westerner, and all over the Middle East. Her books and her biography are facinating reading, not least because they make for a great vicarious adventure. Jane letcher Geniesse’s biography, Passionate Nomad, The Life of Freya Stark, is a recommended read.

Copyright Coffee, Tea and Poetry 2017
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