Ethiopian coffee seems to have become a household name in many countries. Many people prefer its taste and strong aroma above many other brands and coffee categories.
Homemade Ethiopian coffee is a lifestyle and a social bond in many places in Ethiopia. People, especially older women, use the ceremony of Ethiopian homemade coffee to gather around and make the coffee and drink in rounds as they discuss gossip and exchange information. It is a good way of killing time.
What You Should Know
There are things you should know before making a traditional home-made Ethiopian coffee. First, many people drink three cups of coffee in three different coffee warming sessions. In each step, the grained coffee that is added to the warm water gets thinner and thinner. And easier to drink, even in the third round. Many coffee drinkers prefer the strong one even in the third round.
Second, Homemade Ethiopian Coffee is a ceremony, not a work or a simple drink. When a family makes handmade Ethiopian coffee, then it means they probably needed time together. It is a way of communicating with neighbors.
Third, homemade Ethiopian coffee is way different from other thin and mild coffee. Ethiopian coffee rather is made to be strong and effective. Therefore, avoid overconsumption.
Three tools you need to make a homemade Ethiopian coffee
The tools needed to make a homemade Ethiopian coffee are similar although they could differ in design and material. These are Jebena, Ceni, roasting pan, coffee grinder and of course coffee beans.
Jebena is a small pot that resembles a narrow kittle and is made from clay and roasted under fire to become strong. Jebena is used to warm water and to make the coffee after adding ground coffee into the water.
The second is Ceni, a small cup, usually 6 or more in number. The roasting can is similar to a normal cooking pan. It is smaller in size and is used to roast the coffee while moving the coffee in the can and move it around while it is above the fire. The coffee grinder is used after the coffee is roasted on the roasting can. The grinder turns the beans into a fine grain.
Three steps to make a homemade Ethiopian coffee
The main steps of making a homemade Ethiopian coffee are categorized in three.
1- Wash the coffee beans
The coffee beans have different quality levels. Unfortunately, almost all of the first-grade quality coffees are exported out of Ethiopia and it is not even allowed to use them for personal or commercial use unless issued special permission from authorities. Wash the beans no matter which grade these are. Wash them with cool water repetitively until the beans become clean and clear green and until any cover is removed. You can use your hands and by making friction between your hands to wash the coffee. There is no standard way of washing a coffee at homemade Ethiopian coffee. What matters to wash them clean. This process also helps the coffee not to get a burn while roasting. The water will minimize the heat on the coffee.
2- Roasting the coffee beans.
Roasting is putting coffee beans on the roasting pan and moving it in a vibrating mode from right to left or left to right to avoid burning the coffee. The process could take a few minutes. In the meantime, it is better to have fresh air, open windows, and doors to let fresh air in. Put the pan above a source of fire and let it get heat while you hold it and moving it by the handle. The process continues until the beans burn fairly and turn dark golden brown in color. After that, most families have a tradition of putting the pan in Infront of everyone for them to smell and enjoy. They say a good home-made Ethiopian coffee maker is good when their coffee smells like coffee. If no smell, then it must be a bad coffee or a bad coffee maker. After cooling the roasted coffee down, it is time for brewing.
This step might take up to 5 minutes or more depending on the amount of coffee you put in.
3- Grind the coffee beans
After the beans are burnt, they become soft and smooth and easy to grind. You can use either the traditional mechanical grinder or an electrical one. The mechanical grinder works by putting the means in a shallow wooden box and hitting it hard with a steel rod. Through repetitive blow to the beans, you can change them to grind coffee flour. The electric grinder works by putting the beans inside a small pot and automatically get a grinding the coffee. Well, ground coffee will have no large coffee leftover and should be well grained. The coffee becomes fine ground coffee. If you see some parts like a dried coffee cover, left without being ground, you can take them out of the ground coffee.
4- Brewing the coffee
After pouring cups of water, based on the number of drinkers, into the Jebena. Then add the ground coffee into the Jebena and let it warm. After a few minutes, the coffee is ready for a drink. You know when it enough to brew and start serving, you should follow a few steps. First, you listen to the water boiling. Then you see steam coming out of the head of the Jebena.
The jebena should sit still for a while before serving to let the coffee settles distills and the drink stays clear. If you miss this step then you won’t have a good coffee. The ground coffee settled at the bottom of the jebena makes the pure liquid become uneven and lose its taste. Therefore, make sure the ground coffee won’t mix with the liquid coffee and should settle at the bottom, before pouring into the Cinis(cups).
This step might take up to 10 minutes. You will know when the coffee is ready, by looking at the steam coming out of the Jebena.
5- Serving the coffee
You can serve the coffee by pouring it into Cinis. First, begin by placing the Cinis (small cups) on the traditional plate called Rekebot. Then pour the coffee into the cup before giving it to the gathered people. You can hand the Cinis with sugar, honey or salt. Although coffee with honey is a tough drink for some, many people do it for medical purposes.
The honey could be substituted with traditionally prepared butter. Salt is usually for those who don’t use sugar or for those who got used to it. Slat changes the coffee taste from bitter to sour. You can serve up to 3 times, repeating steps 4 and 5 until everyone has it enough.
In each step the coffee becomes diluted and less strong, but still good to drink. Sometimes you can add more ground coffee on the second or third round if you feel like the coffee would become diluted.
Ideas making homemade Ethiopian coffee
Homemade Ethiopian coffee is definitely one of the best coffees you would taste. Unlike machine-made coffee, its aroma, flavor, and ceremony make it unique.
If you are planning to make homemade Ethiopian coffee or you would join an Ethiopian group for a drink, it is better to know that it is all about the relationship more than the drink. The coffee is, in fact, one of the best you would have. More than that the love you would get from the group is what makes it more beautiful.
Usually, the homemade Ethiopian coffee is made without a specific number based standard. The coffee is used based on guessing how many people it will serve. If you want a specific number, then use this. A quarter of green coffee beans or up to five spoon coffee grounds can serve up to four people. Ethiopians usually drink up to three rounds.
You can add popcorn or burnt wheat called Kolo next to the coffee. Many people prefer popcorn. Besides many Ethiopians like to cover the surface with grass to make it look inviting. They also use incense to change the room’s aroma.
Finally, Ethiopian coffee is one of the best in the world. Many known brands including star bucks have a deal to serve Ethiopian coffee to their customers. On the other hand, you can still enjoy the homemade Ethiopian coffee, done in a traditional way. The aroma and taste and even the color of the coffee are different from the machine-made coffee. Many Ethiopians prefer the Jebena, homemade coffee than the café coffee.
The overall ceremony, that invites neighbors to socialize has a bigger advantage. Homemade coffee has always been a way of life. A place for meetups and a place for information. Besides the whole atmosphere, the songs, the laughter, the incense, the grass the ceremony leaves a long-lasting impression.
If you plan to join a group or if you plan to make one at home, follow these steps and try to make fun out of the process.