The Coffee Ceremony

The Coffee ceremony has a high status in Eritrean and Ethiopian culture. Coffee is offered when visiting friends, during festivities, or as a daily staple of life.


First, green coffee beens are roasted in a small roasting pan (in Tigrinya called menkeshkesh) over hot coals. Once roasted they are poured into a circular dish (called meshrefet) made of leaves. The roasted beans are then passed around all participants to smell the aromatic smoke by waving their hands towards their body in order to flavour the aroma. Participants reply tu'um (good) to show appretiation for the woman that is brewing the coffee. The beans are then ground, traditionally in a wooden pounder (in Tigrinya called Megdue bun.)The powdered coffee is then put into a special boiling pot in Tigrinya called jebena.  When the coffee boils up through the neck and it is about to overflow ( which is called the cap of the coffee or qobi'), it is poured in and out of another container to prevent the cap of the coffee from overflowing. If the cap of the coffee overflows, the brewing woman is considered as not efficient. Then it is put back into the boiling pot until it happens again. To pour the coffee from the boiling pot, a filter called leef which is made from horsehair, is placed in the spout of the boiling pot to prevent the grounds from being poured with the coffee.


                   Jebena                                                                                                        Fnjal


The the coffee is poured into handle-less cups called finjal until each cup is full.  The finjal are placed in a tray and served to the particiants with snacks qursi-bun usually pop-corn or bread (hhmbasha) The coffee grounds are brewed three times: the first round of coffee is called awel in Tigrinya (meaning first), the second kalaay  (meaning  second) and the third bereka (meaning 'to be blessed').  The coffee ceremony may also include burning of traditional incense such as frankincense or gum arabic.

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Click the video to watch a coffee cermony.

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