Sometimes I don’t know what I like more, tea or coffee. I have my tea days, where I’ll have anything from green to jasmine, rose bud, earl grey, mint, lavender … and then I have my coffee days … the blissful shot of caffeine – my espresso! This way I get the best of both the worlds (or so I’d like to believe). Right now I’m definitely going through a coffee phase. It all started when I stopped over at Addis AbabaEthiopia on my way here to Ghana. Did I mention to you that I lived in Addis for a year as well? Work related of course … But it was a wonderful experience. Nicely nestled in the high East African mountains, Addis Ababa is a really beautiful city. Not really developed, but then again thats the charm of that place. This time however I stayed at the Hilton and here are some pics i took in their beautiful garden. I was there only for 2 days, and I managed to do all my favourite things … I had my list ready on the flight: D, which included eating at my favourite Yemeni restaurant, eating the lovely local Injera and Tibbs, and of course drinking the world famous freshly ground roasted Ethiopian coffee. Wow I think all I did was eat and drink … I’m such a die hard foodie!

You must be aware that coffee was first discovered in Ethiopia. The story goes …. “According to national folklore, the origin of coffee is firmly rooted in Ethiopia‘s history. Their most popular legend concerns the goat herder from Kaffa, where the plants still grow wild in the forest hills. After discovering his goats to be excited, almost dancing on their hind legs, he noticed a few mangled branches of the coffee plant which was hung with bright red berries. He tried the berries himself and rushed home to his wife who told him that he must tell the monks. The chief monk called these berries the ” Devils work ” and threw the sinful drug into the flames, an action soon to be followed by the smell we are all so familiar with now. They crushed the beans, raked them out of the fire, and distilled the stimulating substance in boiling water. Within minutes the monastery filled with the heavenly aroma of roasting beans, and the other monks gathered to investigate. After sitting up all night, they found a renewed energy to their holy devotions. The rest, as they say, is history.???

Ethiopia‘s coffee ceremony is an integral part of their social and cultural life. An invitation to attend a coffee ceremony is considered a mark of friendship or respect and is an excellent example of Ethiopian hospitality.I managed to take some pictures to share with you how they serve coffee or “Machiato??? traditionally. I apologize for the bad quality of pictures. It was really dark and I couldn’t avoid the camera shake, but i still wanted to click n share these wonderful pictures with you.

The ceremony is usually conducted by a young woman, dressed in the traditional Ethiopian attire of a white dress with coloured woven borders. The long involved process starts with the ceremonial apparatus being arranged. The roasting of the coffee beans is done in a flat pan over a tiny charcoal stove, the pungent smell mingling with the heady scent of incense which is always burned during the ceremony. The lady who is conducting the ceremony gently washes a handful of coffee beans on the heated pan, then stirs and shakes the husks away. When the coffee beans have turned black and shining and the aromatic oil is coaxed out of them, they are ground by a pestle and a long handled mortar. The ground coffee is slowly stirred into the black clay coffee pot locally known as ‘jebena’, which is round at the bottom with a straw lid.

The Coffee is traditionally served with popcorn, peanuts or cooked barley. In most parts of
Ethiopia, the coffee ceremony takes place three times a day – morning, noon and evening. It is the main social event within the village and a time to discuss the community, politics, and basically all kinds of gossip.

They also consider it impolite if you leave until having consumed at least three cups, as the third round is considered to bestow a blessing. Hehe so be sure you are ready to buzz after one coffee session.

The lady finally serves the coffee in tiny china cups to everyone sitting around her, on little kiddie sized stools who have waited and watched her make it for the past half-hour.

After having coffee like this I don’t think I can ever settle for instant coffee. It just doesn’t taste right. And surely it feels so special when I bring out my exotic coffee pot – “jebena” and make some coffee … so therapeutic as the aroma of the freshly ground coffee bean fills up the room and shoots right up to the head through the nostrils. If in Addis you could sample this lovely coffee at the Hilton Hotel.

So I did this little coffee party and made some lovely Chocolate Tarts with sweet Chestnut and Fresh Cream icing. Perfectly sweet, bite sized coffee time treats.

The recipe is really simple. I used some left over chocolate pastry dough for the tart shells. For the filling I used equal amt of chocolate and cream, melted by pouring hot cream over the chocolate. I poured it into the baked tart shells and chilled it till it set. And then the icing … 2 icing bags, one with fresh whipped cream and one with sweetened chestnut puree. Chill it again till sets and serve with hot coffee.

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Comment : (Ravi)

Hi there 🙂

I stumbled upon your blog through one of the comments you left on Extempore’s blog (article:That time of Life)

You’ve got a gr8 blog, mam!!

Being a big time foodie, I loved whatever I saw 🙂

Have added your blog to my Google Reader and now onwards, I would be a regular reader of your content!

Take care 🙂

Ravi (random wanderer on the web) (Kate / Kajal)

Larissa , i think being a snob about what u consume is completely understandable. U always settle for the best 😛

Marianna … haha … i’m still deciding what to have now …today for some strange reason coffee is making me a bit nervous .

Ravi , u are most welcome … i always look forward to new readers dropping by. I hope u enjoy reading my blog. Thanks. (Alita)

This was a reslly good post! It as so interesting for me to read all the explanations, I felt like I am myself in Ethiopia and taste this wonderful experience 🙂
Very nice shots also, expecially the last ones, but the first are also good! I just love this shades of blue and how well they combine with coffe and averything brown, not mentioning the patterns 🙂
The chestnut puree is an interesting addition (I thought it was caramel, but this puree will add more to the varity of tastes), I should try it. Your blog is so inspiring! thank you for sharing it! (Alita)

Oh, and I forgot, don’t tell me you’re working full time and you are nmanaging in the same time this great blog! I should be ashamed of myself if so, I have to resume blogging at once! 🙂 (Kate / Kajal)

Alita i’m glad you could experience that though my post. The chestnut puree is sweet and goes very well with the bitter coffee…( no sugar in there for me atleast )

And..hehe no thank god i’m not working full time. I dont think i’d last in any profession full time. I get bored of things really fast and so i cant do justice to a full time job. I work with my husband and we do end up with some spare time on our hands. (Alita)

Oh, I see, but I am still ashamed of myself and I’m going to re-start blogging. I’ll set a target of 3 blogposts by the end of the week 🙂 Let’s see if I’m going to manage it 🙂
Cheers! (Kate / Kajal)

…u dont have to be 🙂 everybody has got to do whats more important. Sometimes i feel like i’m neglecting my blog too by doing really easy recipes as i dont have the time to spend endless hrs in the kitchen. I would love to see you back in action Alita. cant wait for your next post 😀

i really like the website specially this drinks section,awesome job.keep it up !!

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