Monday, January 3, 2011

The Greatest Joe on Earth

An important part of Ethiopian culture is their coffee ceremony.  An inventation to participate in a coffee ceremony symbolizes friendship or respect.   

From hand roasting to grinding with a mortar and pestle to brewing in a traditional clay coffee pot, the ceremony can take hours and is presided over by one young woman who is dressed in traditional Ethiopian garb.

The youngest child announces that the coffee is to be served and presents the first cup of coffee to the eldest person in the room. The young woman pours the coffee into each tiny China cup from a height of one foot without an interruption.   She then serves her family, friends and neighbors.

In most parts of Ethiopia, the coffee ceremony takes place three times a day.  It is the main social event within the village . . . it’s a time to talk about current events and gossip.   

It is considered rude to drink less than three cups.   “Transformation of the spirit is said to take place during the coffee ceremony through the completion of 'Abol' (the first round), 'Tona' (second round) and 'Baraka' (third round).”

An ancient proverb best describes the place of coffee in Ethiopian life, "Buna dabo naw" . . . "Coffee is our bread!"


For me, drinking coffee isn't a ceremony.  But, like many people, it is often a necessity.  Okay, admittedly, need is a bit of an overstatement but like my husband is fond of saying, "I can't make cup of coffee until I've had a cup of coffee."  Just the other day I forgot to put coffee in the coffee maker . . . mmm, hot watered down cream was not exactly what I "needed".  

In a previous post, I demonstrated how to roast coffee on the stove top using a cast iron pan. 

I’ve discovered another stovetop method that produces a more even roast and doesn’t take a lot of time . . . just a lot of cranking.

The Whirley Pop popcorn maker is an excellent tool for roasting coffee.  It is a very interactive process and gives you complete control over the roasting.  It’s interesting to watch the beans go from green to a luscious brown.

Whirley Pop Method

  • Preheat the  popper to 475 degrees. This is usually over a medium setting.  Some poppers come with a built in thermometer
  • Add your coffee beans. It is usually recommended that you start with eight ounces of green coffee beans.
  • Crank or stir constantly. The constant movement gives the beans the circulation they need for an even roast.
  • Listen for the first crack. This will happen in four to seven minutes. You will want to turn on your fan at this point. The coffee beans will start to smell aromatic.
  • Check the color of the beans. You will want to do this frequently. Once they start to roast they move along quickly.
  • Remove from heat when desired color is reached. Immediately transfer coffee beans to metal colander to remove excess chaff and cool.
  • Cool your coffee beans as quickly as possible. They will continue to roast because of internal heat. Cooling them quickly prevents them from burning.
  • Rest your coffee beans. Beans have the peak taste twenty-four hours after roasting.
  • Store your beans. If you can not use the beans right away, store them in an airtight container. They are best used as soon as possible for the finest flavor.

1 comment:

  1. You have become quite the coffee expert. I'm impressed with your skill and knowledge. Well done and very interesting blog today.