Jebena over coals
Littered around town, in tiny corrugated tin huts, are Ethiopia’s majestic buna bets.
These small traditional coffee houses serve you espresso grade coffee, brewed in an Ethiopian jebena (traditional clay coffee pot). Coals heat the clay coffee pot like molten lava underneath.
And when the coffee reaches the right temperature, the Jebena is designed so that when it is poured into a cup, the grounds stay in the bottom. Ingenious, we know.
Pouring from the Jebena
Given their enclosed quarters, the shops seat no more than 8 to 10 customers at any given time. They also deliver coffee to neighboring shops and homes. The spot in our neighborhood is frequented by the owners of the nearby suks (convenience stores), local taxi drivers, construction workers, and, neighborhood stragglers like us in need of a pick-me-up. It seems that every time we are there for coffee, we run into someone we somehow know.
These shops are designed to replicate the traditional Ethiopian coffee ceremony but at a bit faster pace. A traditional coffee ceremony at a family member’s house involves 3 cups of coffee and can last for hours, so it is a good thing for their own bottom-lines, and honestly for the productivity of it’s customers, that these shops just focus on the coffee and not necessarily on the ceremony (although this varies!)
The main aspects of the coffee ceremony include freshly roasting coffee, which is then ground with mortar and pestle (something these shops are doing throughout the day), frankincense melted over charcoals and popcorn with sugar.
Jebena Coffee with Frankincense
A post-lunch jebena coffee is required by most people to gather the strength to carry on for the afternoon of work. We’ve gotten to the point where just smelling the frankincense gives us a boost, not that we stop there…