Ethiopian Coffee Ceremony Saturday, September 26

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Photo by Steve Evans (Flickr: Ethiopian Coffee Ceremony 005) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

The AAFSW/FBS cordially invite you to welcome the fall season by savoring a nice cup of Ethiopian coffee and experiencing the traditions of its ceremony on Saturday, September 26 at 4:00 p.m. at the residence of one of our members in Annandale, VA. Dating back as far as the 9th century, there are many legends as to the origins of Ethiopian coffee.

It is said that Kaldi, an Ethiopian goatherder, saw that his flock became energized after nibbling on the bright red berries of a bush. He decided to try the fruit himself, and after chewing it, felt invigorated. This prompted him to show the berries to a monk in a nearby monastery. The monk disapproved of them, however, and threw the berries into the fire. Instead of destroying the berries immediately, the fire roasted them, releasing an enticing aroma. Other monks came to see what the scent was and they raked the beans up from the embers, ground them, and dissolved them in hot water, producing the world’s first cup of coffee.

Coffee beans were discovered in Ethiopia and brought to Yemen. Offering coffee is a sign of respect, friendship, and hospitality. In addition to a form of socializing, the coffee ceremony has a deeper spiritual meaning: in fact, Sufis in Yemen used the beverage for religious practice.

The ceremony begins with the hostess spreading fresh aromatic grasses and/or flowers across the floor, and burning incense to ward off evil spirits. She starts the cleaning of the beans, and then roasts them.

Photo by Steve Evans (Flickr: Ethiopian Coffee Ceremony 001) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Once the beans are roasted the guests sample the aromatic smoke by wafting it toward them. The aroma of the roasted coffee is powerful and is considered to be an important aspect of the ceremony, followed by the grinding of the beans with a mortar and pestle. The coffee grounds are then put into a pot (usually made of pottery) and boiled. The grounds are brewed three times.

The ceremony performer pours the coffee in a single stream from about a foot above the cups. The three servings are known as awel in Tigrinya, or an abol, the second kale’i or tona and the third bereka or baraka (“to be blessed”). Each serving is progressively weaker and each cup is said to transform the spirit. The third serving is considered to be a blessing on those who drink it.

People add sugar to their coffee. In the countryside, sometimes salt is added instead of sugar. In some regions of Ethiopia, butter or honey may be added to the brew. Additionally, the coffee may be accompanied by roasted barley, peanuts, popcorn or coffee cherries.

Please RSVP by Wednesday, September 23 to office@aafsw.org or 703-820-5420 and let us know what food you are contributing to the party.

We look forward to seeing you and your spouse.

Sheila Switzer
AAFSW Programs Chair

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