Ethiopian Coffee Ceremony

Performing a cultural Ethiopian Coffee Ceremony

How to perform Traditional Coffee Ceremony in Ethiopia - The process of preparing Coffee Ceremony in cultural way of Ethiopians - Steps of making coffee in Ethiopian traditional way

Ethiopia is World-famous for its delicious coffee. Ethiopia takes the title also for being the birthplace of Coffee. It is from a place known asHow Coffee gets its nameKaffa’ or ‘Kaffa’ in Western Ethiopia. The place where coffee was originally discovered (“Kaffa” or “Kaffa”) is how “Coffee” gets its name. ′Coffee′ in the Ethiopian language of Amharic is known as “Buna” (ቡና).

Watch short video of how delicious the Ethiopian coffee tastes!

,if you want to experience traditional Ethiopian Coffee Ceremony in Addis Ababa.

This page explains why coffee is so essential to Ethiopia and Ethiopians. Continue reading to: - 

  • Find details of what Ethiopian cultural coffee ceremony is.
  • Learn why Ethiopians celebrate drinking coffee with ‘ceremony’.
  • Take a look at how Ethiopians consume coffee as part of their traditional customs.
  • Know things you need if you want to set up the coffee ceremony Ethiopian/Eritrean style.
  • Learn about the steps of making coffee in Ethiopian traditional way

And, contact us to experience the Ethiopian cultural coffee ceremony with Merit’s full or half day city excursions in Addis Ababa.

Let’s get started with the impressive Ethiopian legend on how Coffee was discovered.

Coffee was first discovered in the 9th century AD in Ethiopia, according to a famous legend. Kaldi, an Ethiopian goatherd, found that after eating the Coffee leaves and berries, his goats became abnormally active and joyful. After consuming the berries himself, he became energized and ecstatic.

He took fresh coffee beans to a local monastery and told them about the coffee, his goats and himself. Initially, he was distrusted and warned that the berries were dangerous stimulants, but that changed when they threw the coffee beans into the fire. However, the pleasant aromas of the burning (roasting) coffee enticed them to sample it for themselves.

YES! The coffee was very stimulating, and it helped the monks stay awake while praying at night..

Well-done Kaldi!!

Ethiopia's economy relies heavily on coffee. Ethiopia is Africa's largest coffee grower, producing some of the world's greatest coffee beans. Ethiopian coffee is one of the country's most popular exports.

Ethiopians have a special relationship with coffee, both culturally and socially. Ethiopians had been drinking coffee for hundreds of years before the 15th and 16th centuries AD, when it was first sold to Yemen and the rest of Arabia.


More than 75% of Ethiopians live in rural areas and rely on rain-fed agriculture for their livelihood. They farm tiny parcels of land using traditional equipment and oxen, and various families live in different parts of the village.

Coffee holds a special role in the Ethiopian culture for many of these Ethiopians. The traditional Coffee Ceremony, which lasts more than an hour, is a terrific fun way for neighbors to get together.

Locals share information, news about other people - who has been sick, who has lost close relatives to death, and a variety of other topics are raised and discussed during the Coffee Ceremony.

In Ethiopia, hosting and entertaining your guests at a traditional Ethiopian Coffee Ceremony is still a widespread activity. When a visitor comes to visit a family, one of the first things they are provided/served with is coffee.

Coffee is a cultural ceremony that allows plenty of time for discussion and chatting while sipping delicious cups of coffee. The Coffee Ceremony brings individuals together on a social and emotional level. The traditional coffee ceremony is a crucial social reunion occasion for the Ethiopian society.

There is no rush during authentic Ethiopian coffee ceremonies held in farm areas. Attending one helps to understand the locals’ sense of time. It is an experience to see how people perform as if they have ALL THE TIME.

Besides drinking the coffee, the cultural way of brewing and drinking it with a ceremony involves one's senses. Cultural Ethiopian Coffee Ceremony is an experience to feel. It gives participants time to share emotions and advice. The traditional way of the coffee ceremony is an activity to experience sensually.Setting of Ethiopian Coffee Ceremony

The whole process of the Ethiopian Coffee Ceremony takes longer than one hour. Normally, the coffee host is a woman with traditional Ethiopian dress. The event starts with the organizer (host) preparing a good place for the ceremony. She puts the necessary utensils in front of her and sits facing her guests.

Basic tools (utensils) to perform a traditional Ethiopian Coffee Ceremony are: -

  • Jebena (traditional Ethiopian clay coffee pot) (ጀበና)
  • Coffee Cups (የቡና ሲኒዎች) and Coffee Cup Table (ረከቦት)
  • Vessel for boiling water (ማንቆርቆሪያ)
  • Mortar and pestle (ሙቀጫ እና ዘነዘና)
  • Iron pan for roasting the coffee on (የብረት ምጣድ)
  • Iron or wooden stick to stir the coffee beans with (መቁያ ወይም መቁሊያ)
  • Fire furnace (የከሰል ምድጃ), fan (ማራገቢያ)፣tongs for picking charcoal (መቆንጠጫ)
  • Frankincense burner (እጣን ማጨሻ)
  • Plastic bowl (ማስታጠቢያ)

The coffee host makes sure all the materials (utensils) in order. Then, she sprinkles fresh cut green grass (known as Ketema (ቄጤማ) in Amharic) on the ground around the coffee table. The idea behind putting the grass on the ground for the Coffee Ceremony is to create refreshing ambience.

Tourist trying to roast coffee beans in Addis AbabaCalling neighbors to attend the Coffee Ceremony, the coffee girl (the host) starts washing the coffee beans by hand. She rubs the beans on the iron pan between her palms. Then, she rinses the coffee berries with clean water.

The next step is putting the coffee beans on the iron pan and roasting it slowly on fire (charcoal) furnace. How dark coffee to brew and drink depends on how long it is roasted. The coffee host stops the roasting process seeing the color of the roasting coffee on the pan.

The unique part of the Ethiopian Cultural Coffee Ceremony is presenting the smoke. The aroma (smoke) of the roasting coffee is offered to the guests. It is a cultural rite to let guests smell the roasting coffee smoke. Guests move the smoke (aroma) of the roasting coffee from the pan to their nose.

NOTE - You can book our full-day or half-day city tour in Addis Ababa to experience the real Ethiopian Coffee Ceremony culture.

And inhale to enjoy the sweet fresh smell of the coffee. In Ethiopian cultures, presenting the roasting coffee smokes for smell is a sign of being a welcoming host (hospitality).

After letting the hot roasted coffee cool down, pounding manually continues. Pounding the coffee is done by hand using mortar and pestle is the next step. As she is grinding the coffee, she boils clean water on the fire furnace using the iron vessel.

While all these process of the Ethiopian Coffee Ceremony is going on, participants enjoy chatting. With full attention, they talk about what is new, finding out how things went, and what to do. Different topics are raised during the traditional Ethiopian coffee ceremony. Cultural matters, family issues, politics, society, daily matters, are the common.

Typical traditional Ethiopian Coffee Pot made of clay used for Ethiopian Coffee CeremonyThe most important topic on coffee ceremony of Ethiopia is personal issues. Examples are health, family, farming,Logo of Merit Ethiopian Experience Tours made with shape of traditional Ethiopian Coffee Pot business, and following up on what they discussed before.

After grinding the roasted coffee, and boiling the water in the vessel, the hot water is poured into the Jebena – the typical traditional Ethiopian clay coffee pot. Adding enough coffee powder, the coffee brewing continues with boiling the hot water in the Jebena.

Merit Ethiopian Experience Tours [MEET] has a logo with a shape of a traditional Ethiopian Coffee Pot (Jebena) decorated with the national colors of Ethiopia - Green, Yellow, and Red.

The coffee pot (the clay urn) has varied sizes and slightly different shapes in different parts of Ethiopia. The Ethiopian coffee pot (Jebena) may have one or more spouts. The coffee pot from Tigray region of North Ethiopia and Eritrea has no spout.

When the coffee in the clay pot boils well, the steam (foam) discharges on the top. That is the time to take it off the fire and put it aside. Then, wait for few minutes until the crude (coarse part) of the coffee settles down.

Burning Frankincense as part of Ethiopian Coffee CeremonyNext, the coffee host burns the frankincense (እጣን) on the charcoal furnace for its sweet smell. Burning frankincense (እጣን) creates enjoyable ambience before pouring the first round of coffee.

Ethiopians drink three cups (rounds) of coffee during the coffee ceremony. The first round of coffee, known as Abol (አቦል), is the strongest and best one.

With special care not to move the crude part of the settled coffee, the coffee woman pours the coffee slowly into the cups one by one. Then, it is handed to the guests together with sugar and a unique herb known as Tena Adam (Rue).

A small piece of leaves from Tena Adam (ጤና አዳም), is dipped in the cup of coffee. Tena Adam (rue) gives the coffee a delicious taste as flavoring agent. The scientific name of Tena Adam (Rue) is “Ruta Chalepenesis”.

Bereka (በረካ) is the name of the second round of coffee to drink. Tona (ቶና) is the last and third round of coffee in Ethiopian Coffee Cultural event. Brewing Bereka and Tona is only by adding more water to the coffee remained in the pot (Jebena). So, Tona is the least strong cup of coffee.

Did you make your coffee following the above steps? Great! Now, before drinking your coffee, you have to let the pot (Jebena) for about 5 minutes. Putting the coffee pot away from the fire (heat) allows the coffee stay still. The crude (coarse) part of the coffee stays at the bottom. And be very slow when pouring the coffee to your cup so that you don’t stir it!

Our tours in Addis Ababa city include the experience of traditional Ethiopian Coffee Ceremony.

For Coffee Lovers, we offer a trip in Addis Ababa for one which focuses only on Coffee. The custom coffee-theme tour in Addis includes visiting a small coffee farm, shopping for coffee at local markets, tasting coffee at the road-side 'Buna-Tetu', and enjoying Ethiopian coffee brewed by best baristas in Addis Ababa.

Check out other interesting Blogs on Ethiopia by Merit Ethiopian Experience Tours. If you have a day in Addis Ababa, you can attend a Cultural Coffee Ceremony Ethiopian way with locals in one of our day trips near Addis


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