Around the rekbot
Many Ethiopian immigrants take the coffee ceremony with them to their new homes around the world, as it is a way of maintaining those ties with their origins and continuing the cultural legacy of their ancestors. If you are lucky enough to find a cafeteria run by descendants of Ethiopia, or if you are invited to a traditional coffee ceremony, do not hesitate and reserve a couple of hours to enjoy the experience. You can also taste an exquisite quality coffee.
The coffee ceremony is an integral part of social and cultural life in Ethiopia and Eritrea. An invitation is a sign of friendship or respect and is an excellent example of Ethiopian hospitality. Performing this ritual is almost mandatory in the presence of a visitor, whatever the time of day.
It is organized around a “rekbot” (shelving cabinet that serves as a preparation platform) that is arranged on a bed of herbs and flowers. The hostess is usually a young woman, dressed in the traditional ethnic white cotton garment with colored woven borders.
The roasting of coffee beans is done in a flat pan, on a small coal or gas stove. The rich nutty smell mixes with the aroma of frankincense and myrrh that always burns during the process.
The hostess gently washes a handful of coffee beans in the hot saucepan, then stir and shake the husks. When the beans have turned black and shiny, they are passed around the room so that attendees enjoy the smell.
The beans are ground with the mortar and the ground coffee is mixed with spices. It is then poured into an ornate clay pot, known as "jebena", which is round at the bottom, narrow at the edge and has a straw lid. This edge serves as a strainer and the person in charge serves in small containers called "cini".
Generally, this coffee or buna is taken with abundant sugar or even salt, but without milk. It is usually accompanied with a snack.