Madine Family

Coffee Ceremony


Posted on : 8/31/2011 | By : Joanna

The coffee ceremony is very important in Ethiopian culture. Even after traveling to Ethiopia twice, I realize that I don't know very much about the ritual. I knew it was delicious and a little history, but that was about it. Recently I ran across a few articles, each offering some bits and pieces of info, so I thought I'd share what I've gathered.

Coffee originated in Ethiopia. Legend says that a goat herder from Kaffa noticed his goats were acting very lively after having eat the berries from a bush. He tasted them and felt invigorated, so he took them to the local monastery. The Abbot thought the berries must be evil and threw them in a fire. When he smelled the lovely aroma, he changed his mind and decided they must be from God. That night they sat up drinking the brew and vowed to drink it daily to keep themselves awake during their long devotionals.

Being invited to a coffee ceremony is a sign of friendship and/or respect. Coffee ceremonies are sometimes performed three times a day and can take a few hours. It is an opportunity for friends and family to catch up on local/political events and celebrate special occasions...and drink the best coffee in the world. :)

The Ritual:
The woman of the house (or a younger woman of the house) wears a traditional white dress with colored embroidery along the sleeves and bottom of the skirt. She begins by setting up the room. On the floor she spreads long aromatic grasses and flowers and burns frankincense to ward off evil spirits. She sets up a large tray with rows of small demitasse cups (without handles). She fills the traditional coffee pot, called a jebena, with water and sets it on hot coals.

She washes the green coffee beans in a wok-like pan over hot coals, shaking and stirring them until the husks and debris are shaken free of the beans. Then, in the same pan, she roasts the beans, stirring and shaking the pan constantly until the beans darken and begin to release their oils. The aroma of the bean is a very important part of the ceremony. She carries the pan around wafting the aromatic smoke toward each person. The guests should comment on how wonderful it smells. She then grinds the beans coarsely with tool similar to a mortar and pestal, but are called a mukecha (moo-key-cha) and a zenezena. By this time the jebena is ready. The ground are added to the pot and the mixture is brought to a boil, then removed from the heat. It is now ready to be served.

She prepares to serve by pouring a little coffee into the first cup, then pouring it from one cup to the next cup to warm them up. The grounds have settled to the bottom of the pot and she pours the coffee in a steady stream from a foot above the cups. The goal is to fill all of the cups equally with one pour (without spilling or splashing very much). Women practice this beginning when they are young girls. In many cases the youngest child in the house will serve the first cup to the eldest in the room or the guest of honor. Guests should complement the hostess on her brewing and serving skill. Sugar is typical...and a lot of it, usually already added. The most common snack served is popcorn (no salt or butter). (Coffee and popcorn go really well together). The first brew is similar to espresso. There are typically three brews (called abol, tona, and baraka), with the last being similar to american style coffee. Each cup is said to transform the spirit, but the third cup is a blessing, and the ceremony is not complete until it is consumed.

Here are my sources:

Let me know if I left anything out or didn't mention the meaning behind something.

Catching Up


Posted on : 8/24/2011 | By : Joanna

I know I haven't been great with the blog posts lately....and I think it's time
to admit that a once a month update might be an achievable goal. :)

Maeve is now 22 months old and doing great. She's sleeping through the night pretty consistently, which is something Mommy and Daddy are happy about, but still getting used to. After months of waking a few times a's strange how a full nights sleep can still leave you feeling tired in the morning. She's had a few rough nights because she has 5 teeth coming in at once. We'll all be glad when that's over.Maeve's food issues are getting better. We're still giving her the night-time bottle (brushing her teeth before bed), and won't be changing that until we feel it's time.

She is talking non-stop...well, she always did that, we just understand a lot of it now. We just love it! She also loves to sing and clap, can count to 13, can identify of the letters. We did an evaluation through our county's early childhood intervention program and she tested well above her age on all levels. I was afraid she wouldn't talk to the therapist, but she was on! When each of them came in, she said. "Hi. Hah you?" (How are you) and showed them her books, etc. She even surprised us with some of the tasks she completed. We're definitely proud parents. :)

She's making progress on potty training, using the potty about 50% of the time. It's just a bit inconsistent between day care and home, but she definitely knows how to do it. Now if she could just tell us more often before she goes :)

Maeve loves going to her "school" (day care). She really likes the teachers and has a few BFFs already. She sometimes names them off and grins and giggles.

We went to Chicago over July 4th and had a great time with Uncle Brian and Aunt Cris.

This is Maeve falling asleep at Starbucks.

We also had the pleasure of attending the 2nd birthday party of Maeve's old roommate in Ethiopia, Lily.

We also attended a huge pool party of Ethiopian adoptive families.

(That's Maeve on the far right- "I thought you said we were going swimming!")

We've also gotten in a few play dates with her good friend, Tsegaw.

I'll try to be better about updating and leave you with one of my favorites.