RENEW Strategies

Out and About in Ethiopia - The Coffee Ceremony

alt text
Laura Davis
| May 26, 2013

The coffee ceremony is part of daily life in Ethiopia. First, the green beans are roasted, creating a glorious aroma. Then the beans are ground, traditionally with a wooden mortar and pestle, but now more commonly in an electric grinder. The ground coffee then goes into a clay vessel, called a jebena, along with water, and the vessel is placed on the fire.

Then the fun begins - sweet popcorn, incense and the most delightful brew. I've asked many and they say there is no religious meaning behind the ceremony, but the smells, taste and time to savor offer a welcome relief in the midst of any busy day. Incense, such as frankincense or gum arabic, is burned on hot coals that sit on a tiny clay base. The coffee is poured into small cups - Cini in Amharic - and more rounds are brewed. The first round of coffee is called "Abol," the second "Tona" and the third "Bereka", which means "to be blessed." And one of the most surprising parts for me is that some people choose salt in their coffee instead of sugar!

Contact us at or follow us on Twitter @RENEWLLC to find out more.