>Travel Treat: BUNA!!

>I find myself in a bit of an Ethiopian funk, and have to sort it out some before I post about it, or not.

However, in the excitement over referrals received by Gladney families, I thought I would add to it by posting about one of the great treats in going to Ethiopia: BUNA!!!

That’s coffee. The best coffee on earth. No kidding.

The legend on how coffee got it’s start (and the name for the Addis version of Starbucks) can be found here, among other places. I won’t tell the whole story, go read. But suffice to say it’s got all the good stuff: sheperd named Kaldi, goats, monks, roasting beans, prayers. What’s not to like?

The coffee ceremony starts with aesthetics. The flower petals were laid out around the cups and roaster, the cups were set out and the coals lit. How pretty is that? Seeing those petals laid out and stools waiting for us to sit and visit was a welcome treat after a long hard day! A straw fan was waved over them until they are hot, sometimes an incense of sorts is added to them.
The coffee ceremony is about more than coffee however. It is about connecting. Like any real coffee break, it is about relaxing and enjoying a visit with a friend, old or new, learning more about another person. It is a gift of time and attention, a gift of self on multiple levels. This one was Wagayu’s gift to us. And we were grateful.
Just for fun, they had us girls try our hand at roasting the coffee. Not the men. Apparently, it is tradition that women do the roasting. So, Bananas gave it a go.
Then it was my turn. I’m no pro, that’s for sure. But it was oddly relaxing to kind of sit and stir, listening to the conversation.
After getting a good laugh, politely and kindly, on our inept roasting skills, Tsemest ground the roasted beans with a steel cut rod and wooden pestle. Next she boiled, pouring it in and out of the traditional pot.
Finally, to our great anticipation, Tsemest poured the dark coffee into the small white porcelain cups. She offered it with raw sugar (and I tasted it with and without – to Wagayu’s dismay. Good either way).They traditionally serve popcorn with the coffee, often spicy, and while it sounds different…oddly enough, works. It’s good.
Maybe it’s the smell of the coffee and incense, maybe it’s the smell of the popcorn. But I’m guessing that neighbor children know it’s a great time to wander over for a visit. They’re right. That’s Jess.
Suffice it to say, coffee is a big deal in Ethiopia! A country after my own heart (it got it!). While the coffee ceremony is too much production for most folks on any given morning, even coffee on the run is fantastic in Addis Ababa. It is different than American coffee, to be sure. It is maybe most like coffee in Italy. It is close to espresso but not exactly the same; it is smoother, less bitter, with a full flavor. It is certainly worth a try, even by those who aren’t coffee afficionados….add a little of the sugar and give it a shot. You might be surprised and really, it’s worth a try because it is a part of Ethiopia and the Ethiopian culture. That alone makes it special.

We are so grateful that Wagayu asked us to have coffee with him! It was one of the special treats of our trip. It saved an afternoon that, for me, had careened off course. We had had our embassy appointment canceled with no news of our paperwork arriving and a migraine had started it’s tsunami in my head. Braking, breaking, for coffee……it helped get the day back on course, pull it out of the slide.

So, if anyone asks you if you’d have coffee with them, say, “Yes!” And if anyone travels and has room to bring back some roasted beans, um, drop me an email – I’ll reimburse! (kidding….maybe).

1 thought on “>Travel Treat: BUNA!!

  1. >Oh what a lovely family. It is indeed true that all guys in Ethiopia do not make the coffee and such, but when I was a kid, my sisters used me to make me do the coffee all the time. You know why? Because I knew the secrete to a good coffee 🙂 You were doing a good job of roasting the coffee! I can smell it all the way here…hmmmmm!


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