The First Coffee Drinkers

Coffea Arabica actually originated in Ethiopia, and not Brazil as is often thought. The Ethiopians were the first to discover coffee. There are many myths and legends about its discovery: the best-known is the story of a young shepherd, Kaldi, who realized that coffee had regenerating properties after watching his goats nibbling the ripe berries of the coffee plant. The direct descendants of the first coffee-drinkers were the Oromo people, a tribe who have lived in the Kaffa region for about 500 years. The Oromo still prepare coffee as they once did, using all the edible parts of the plant: the leaves are used to make an infusion known as kuti, the husks to make hoja, a brew which is diluted with milk, while the beans are lightly roasted to produce bunna qela, an energy-rich snack containing butter and salt, with a strong symbolic meaning. In other parts of the country, buna is a well-known ritual used to prepare black coffee. The coffee is roasted by hand, ground in a mortar, and finally infused in a jebena, the typical Ethiopian terracotta.

The recipes
Ethiopian coffee

In the Harar region, the Oromo, Larari, Amara and Somali groups ceremonially prepare coffee at home using the jebena. The coffee can also be flavored with black cardamom In other areas of the country, different spices are used, such as ginger root in the Kaffa region and cinnamon along the Sudanese border. Other areas of the country use other spices, such as ginger roots in the Kaffa region, or cinnamon along the border with Sudan. Several Muslim communities from the Kaffa region prefer to add salt to their coffee instead of sugar, or they melt a teaspoon of butter in their cups.

1 liter of water
16 heaped teaspoons of arabica coffee
half a teaspoon of black cardamom seeds (optional)
sugar to taste

Rinse the green coffee beans and drain well. In a pot or on a griddle, roast them gently over a medium flame and continue to stir to ensure even roasting. When the beans are golden brown, put them in a terracotta bowl, set them aside to cool, and then crush them using a grinder or traditional wooden mortar. In the meantime, pour water into the jebena and set it on the burner or, if possible, on hot charcoal. When the water starts to boil, gradually add the pulverized coffee to the jebena. Add ground spices if desired and swirl the receptacle to blend the brew. Set aside for at least 5 minutes, up to a maximum of 15 minutes to make more concentrated coffee. Filter the brew into ceramic cups and serve.

Steeped coffee leaves

This beverage is widespread in the Harar region among the Oromo and Somali tribes. It is prepared with Coffea arabica leaves that have been picked from the tree and left in the sun to dry (amertassa). In the Kaffa region, fallen leaves are used to prepare this beverage.

1 liter of water or milk, or a 50/50 mixture of both
2 handfuls of Coffea Arabica leaves
Sugar or salt, to taste

Lightly roast the leaves over the flame. Chop them coarsely with finger tips. Boil the water separately in a large metal teapot. Add the leaves and continue to boil over a medium flame for about 15 minutes. Add sugar to taste and serve in teacups.