Ethiopia Coffee Culture

If we were playing a game called “Guess the Country”, 

would you know after these following facts 

that it’s Ethiopia we are talking about? Let’s see. 

  • The only country in Africa that was never formally brought under colonial control.
  • The first country in Africa to own and operate a Boeing 787 Dreamliner.
  • Queen Sheba was the queen of which African country?
  • What was the first country in Africa to accept Islam as a religion?
  • What African country is the first African female pilot from?
  • The lowest place on Earth, Dallol ( a lava lake) is located in this country. 

Most people when they think of Ethiopia imagine famine and a poor country.

We are not far from the truth, but reading all of the facts from above, 

we can see how culturally rich this country located in the Horn of Africa is.

A big part of their culture is coffee culture. It’s the birthplace of the coffee plant.

As creatures of habit, most people engage in morning coffee preparations.

We like to take time preparing it and savoring its taste, but we believe

it’s still nothing compared to the coffee ceremony in Ethiopia.

Ethiopian Coffee Ceremony Preparation

 It takes us about 5 minutes to make our morning coffee,

but don’t be surprised that it takes an hour or so to make coffee in Ethiopia. 

It’s a process to be enjoyed.

Their coffee ceremony consists of three servings:




The strength of each serving decreases over time. 

Every cup is said to transform the spirit, and the third cup is considered a blessing.

Ethiopian Coffee Ceremony

Ethiopian Coffee Ceremony


Creating a traditional cup of coffee or buna can take more than an hour,

and drinking it can also take a long time, especially during celebrations and festivities.

Ethiopia’s coffee drinking experience is unlike anything else in the world.

In order to roast the beans, they must first be washed and roasted on half an iron pan (mitad). 

As usual, the person preparing the beans

(who is generally the woman in the house) wears the traditional Ethiopian attire called habesaha semis.

In the roasting process, the beans are divided in half 

so that guests can inhale the smell and aroma.

It is a very important part of the Ethiopian Coffee sensory experience.

After the beans have been roasted, they are brewed in a traditional mortar

before being placed in a jebena with boiling water. 

Jebenas are a traditional Ethiopian clay pot made specifically for preparing coffee

that come in a variety of sizes and shapes and are essential to every Ethiopian family. 

A jebena has one, two, or three spouts depending on the region where it is made and used.

After the coffee beans have been added to the simmering water,

they are left to steep in the jebena.

Ethiopian Jebena used for making coffee

After the coffee foam appears at the top of it,

it is removed from the heat and allowed to settle to the bottom of the pot.

Having gathered all the coffee cups on the rekebot ( Ethiopian coffee table), the first cup is poured with coffee. 

The drinking ceremony can now begin, and coffee is offered with multiple options 

for seasoning, such as salt, sugar, or rue ( used to flavor coffee in Ethiopia).


Buna dabo naw

Coffee is our bread - Ethiopian saying

When you go to Ethiopia you will often hear the expression
 “Buna dabo naw,”

which translates to “Coffee is our bread.”

Hence, it is no wonder that Ethiopians commonly

associate coffee with life and sustenance.

They put in a lot of time to make it 

and the Ethiopian cup of coffee requires company.

There is more to it than just drinking. 

This is a special time for them to unite, socialize 

and just be there for each other.

Another common phrase for getting together, to talk,

 is buna tetu, which means “drinking coffee.” 

Both elements are important: 

meetings rarely lack coffee, and coffee rarely lacks company.

If you are invited to a coffee ceremony, don’t decline it. 

To be invited to participate in Ethiopia’s most important cultural/social event is a sign of your value as a friend.

It’s a ceremony like no other.


As you can see, the coffee culture in Ethiopia is to be appreciated. 

The Western World is always in a hurry, with their go-to coffee cups,

while in the African lands it’s a time to slow down, purge and connect. 

Hopefully, we can all one day have the experience 

of witnessing this coffee ceremony 

if not in “the land of origins,” 

then look up a traditional Ethiopian coffee shop

somewhere in your hometown, 

practise patience in this fast-paced world we live in

and let yourself feel every second of it.






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