by Bo Campot, Buunni Associate
As we look forward to opening Cafe Buunni, we have been thinking about the relationship between coffee and community. In Ethiopia, the two come together in the coffee ceremony.
The Ethiopian coffee ceremony is a time for friends and family to come together to share stories and news. Social life often revolves around the ceremony – an invitation to take part is a gesture of friendship. Unlike the quick dash in and out of the coffee shop you make every morning, the ceremony takes a considerable amount of time. It begins with raw green coffee beans, and after roasting and brewing in the midst of familiar conversation; it arrives at a cup of hot strong “bunna”, or coffee.
All of the necessary implements (coffee beans, sugar, incense, pan, stove, mortar, pestle, cups) are laid out on a bed of special long grass. The grass represents abundance. Soon the beans are placed in a pan on the small charcoal stove, where they begin to roast. At the same time, the incense burns. The smells form an aromatic combination
While stories, news, and often the latest gossip, have passed between friends and relatives, the beans darken and resemble the roasted beans that most of us are more familiar with. They are carefully ground in a mortar and pestle. The grinds are then stirred with hot water in a “jebena”. The jebena is a clay pot reserved specifically for the brewing of coffee. Waiting a few minutes allows the grounds to settle at the bottom of the jebena.
Holding the pot a foot above the china cups, the server pours the coffee in an even stream into the center of each cup. The generations are served in descending order – from oldest to youngest. The conversation then resumes as friends and family unite over the age-old tradition of a shared cup of coffee.
In the rush of daily life, we might not have time for the luxurious Ethiopian coffee ceremony. Consider, however, the moment when the familiar barista who knows your morning coffee order by heart greets you on your way to work. You may not have a few hours to spend as you enjoy it, but there is a certain comfort and joy in looking forward to a smile of camaraderie and a few kind words across the counter as you savor your morning coffee.