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Explore Your Own “Coffee Ceremony”
In our culture we often drink coffee to speed ourselves up—to get our work done faster—to rush ourselves to the next important destination. Imagine this common scenario: A manager stops, during his workday commute, at a Starbucks located near a highway entrance ramp. Inside, he waits, standing in line with strangers he doesn’t know. His coffee is made using an efficient, time-saving brew method… one that makes the most coffee for the greatest number of people in the shortest amount of time. He becomes irritated at having to wait in a long line during rush hour. He worries about being late. Finally, he pays for his coffee, throws the barista a $1 tip and dashes off. It is a ritual, repeated by millions of people in modern society, which is devoid of human connection or any reverence for coffee’s origin as a gift from nature.
It’s remarkable to think that this is our norm—that this is the way much of the world looks at coffee. At One World Roasters, Connecticut’s organic gourmet coffee roaster, we have a different perspective. When we explore traditions outside of Western Civilization, and look deeply into the countries that were truly integral to the history of coffee, we see a very different picture such as this typical occurrence in an Ethiopian household: A visit from a neighbor. The hostess of the gathering roasts fresh green coffee beans over hot coals and wafts the divine aroma towards the guest, allowing a welcome preview of the delectableflavors that are to come. The fragrant scene is further enhanced with burned incense.
Once the beans have been appropriately browned, they are then broken up mechanically using a mortar and pestle and are placed in a traditional boiling pot called a Jebena. The liquid and grounds are fed through the pot and tasted multiple times to achieve the perfect flavor. The pot then sits idly for a period of time to allow the coffee grounds to settle.
The coffee is served through one continuous pour into small china cups with a spoon of sugar and no milk—smooth, roasty ecstasy achieved. Two more servings of coffee are shared before the host and guest part ways.
This special practice isn’t just warming a pot of coffee grounds and calling it a day—it’s a deeply personal celebration of good company and the belief that some things really are best when they aren’t rushed. The ceremony captures nearly every step of the coffee preparation and can last up to a few hours in length.
It’s understandable if this all sounds like a lot to wait through, but this experience is exactly what makes the coffee ceremony so powerful. When we understand exactly where our favorite foods come from—when we see the dedication and care that go into making the things we love—we obtain a new appreciation for them and the people who make these simple pleasures possible. And of course, Ethiopian coffee, with its juicy fruit flavor and sweet smoothness, is well worth savoring.
Efficiency and the distraction of multitasking have become the status quo in so many areas of our lives that we often find it difficult to be personal, patient, and open-minded with each other. We like to think of the coffee ceremony as a little way to reclaim this sense of community we’ve lost in the modern era.
For many of us coffee is a daily ritual, but in Ethiopian culture coffee goes well beyond habits—it’s a facet of society and a sacred ceremony unto itself! If you were visiting with an old friend, having a business meeting, or simply welcoming a new houseguest the traditional Ethiopian coffee ceremony would be a given.
While there is a clear tradition in place in the Ethiopian coffee legacy, you don’t need to follow every detail to find your own little cup of solitude and good vibes. There are many great ways to re-examine coffee and how we share it with others. Consider using adifferent coffee brewing method, create delicious pairings of food and coffee at your own ceremony, and if you’re feeling bold, try roasting your own beans around some good company. The idea is very simple: slow down, and reconnect with your senses and the people who matter to you.
So only one question remains—how do you like your coffee ceremony?
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One World Roasters
967 North High St,
East Haven CT 06512