30th
Apr
2013

Posted in Kafevend Blog

Coffee is at the heart of Ethiopian culture, but equally Ethiopia is at the core of coffee's history. It is the land where coffee and its effects were first detected. There is a legend which, while no doubt largely apocryphal, contains the grains of truth that explain the discovery. The legend's central character is a goatherd named Kaldi, whose goats began to behave very oddly one day. They danced around in a spectacularly hyped up manner and on closer inspection Kaldi realised that they had been eating the red berries of some wild bushes during their grazing. He tried some himself and feeling the same energising effects, decided to share his find with the local monastery. The monks found the stimulating properties of the berries ideal for staying alert during late night and early morning prayers. Word gradually spread and eventually reached the Arabian peninsula where the process of roasting and brewing coffee beans had its advent.

Arabica coffee is grown in many regions of Ethiopia today. It is Africa's most prolific producer of coffee and also its largest consumer. Central to its culture is a coffee ceremony, which is performed in an unhurried fashion morning, noon and evening, by the lady of the household. It is the main social event within a community, during which much discussion and gossip ensues and its importance is reflected in the language. For instance, when someone says that they have no one to have coffee with, they are bemoaning the fact that they don't have close friends to confide in; being told not to let your name get noticed at coffee time is an admonition to behave in a way that doesn't attract negative gossip.
The ceremony itself is a very involved and fascinating process, which I will revisit in a future blog.

by Kafevend

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