One of the best parts of our orientation programme was the opportunity to visit the homes of some of Bingham’s Ethiopian employees for a traditional coffee ceremony. I went to the home of Embet, who is the houseworker for several Bingham families. She is a delightful woman who lives about a 20 minute walk from the school. I visited her home with Randen, Christina and their three girls, and with Tessa. Randen and Christina are from the US; Randen is the new student counsellor, particularly focusing on assisting the Grade 12 students as they apply for universities in one of the many countries Bingham’s graduating class leave for at the end of their time here. Tessa is the new French and German teacher and is from the UK.
Our walk was a pleasant one, but it reminded me that Kolfe, the part of the city in which we live, is very poor. There are ramshackle slum dwellings just a couple of hundred metres up the road; my Year 12 Studies of Societies class from last year would recognise the type of dwelling from our Slum Survivor simulation camp last year (See TEAR Australia’s website for more information: http://www.tear.org.au/education/slum-survivor/). The difference was, of course, that we could chicken out and sleep in Quicky, the high school groundsman’s shed when it got too wet that night; these people have no such choice in this wet and muddy rainy season! We passed many shops and a large vegetable market.
Embet had everything prepared for our arrival. The little stove on the right of the photo below what filled with hot coals and she began to roast the raw coffee beans. It was a slow and methodical process that was very relaxing! In the meantime she served us freshly popped corn which is usually served with traditional Ethiopian coffee.
Once the beans were roasted, they needed to be ground up by hand, in Embet’s mortar and pestle which she had inherited from her grandmother. We all had a go at grinding the coffee, but none of us were as efficient as Embet!
The ground coffee is placed in the traditional coffee pot with fresh hot water, and then allowed to brew over the hot coals.
What results is a lovely strong, black brew of coffee, which is served in tiny cups.
I generally avoid coffee; as a rule it makes me quite ill with an unpleasant case of nausea and a headache. Apparently Ethiopian coffee has no such effect! Yes, it is very strong, and I confess I added a generous helping of sugar, but I really quite enjoyed it! I’m not saying I will be suddenly drinking lattes from the Bakehouse in Clare, but if there is freshly-made Ethiopian coffee to be had, I will indulge, I think!
After several hours of talking with Embet and her teenage and adult children, we made our way back to Bingham for a late lunch! It was a wonderful way to have spent a morning!