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What you should know about African coffee ceremonies

Traditions and ceremonies remain etched in cultures all over the world, especially in Africa where most commodity coffees are grown.

20 Mar 2015

While coffee blends and brands are expanding globally, traditions and ceremonies remain etched in cultures all over the world, especially in Africa where most commodity coffees are grown. In many cultures, the ritual of drinking coffee is given semi-religious status due to the beverage’s mood altering capabilities. 

Saeco, an Italian coffee brand has explored what people find attractive in coffee in order to understand the coffee landscape. It’s important to note that coffee is harvested around the world, with different blends making their way to the different parts of the globe.

“Highlighting interesting trends and cultures around the world in coffee consumption lends itself to increased appreciation for coffee and how it’s uniquely appreciated and celebrated in Africa”, said Lucy Jones, Marketing Head, Philips Consumer Lifestyle, Africa.


The coffee: 
Coffee, known as Kahawa in the Ethiopian region, was first discovered and consumed in Africa, in the Ethiopian province of Kaffa, which lent its name to the plant, its seeds (or beans), and beverages made from them.

Naturally processed Ethiopian coffees often have a syrupy body with a densely sweet berry flavour, typically blueberry or strawberry. Washed coffees often contain jasmine or lemongrass characteristics, and are lighter and drier on the palate.

How it is served: 
Ethiopia celebrates coffee with an elaborate coffee ceremony which forms an integral part of Ethiopian culture and social life.  The process includes various factors such as the woman wearing a traditional white dress with coloured borders whom then proceeds to wash, roast and grind the coffee as a show to her guests. 

The brewed coffee is strained through a fine sieve several times before it is served to family, friends and neighbours who have waited and watched the procedure. The lady gracefully and expertly pours a golden stream of coffee into little cups called 'cini', pronounced si-ni, from a height of one foot or more without spilling the beverage. 


The coffee:
In Sudan coffee is known as Guhwah. Sudanese coffee is infused with spices during preparation and like Turkish coffee it’s strong and thick. 

How it is served:
The pots used to make and serve the prepared coffee are of red clay, formed in a traditional round shape, about 4 inches in diameter with a long neck and spout. The coffee is then served in small cups placed on a tray that are also traditionally round and small holding 60ml of coffee. 

Coffee beans are first freshly roasted over a small fire and then crushed by hand in a pestle and mortar. The beans are placed in a clay container, together with spices, usually a few cardamom pods and some pepper.

After simmering, the brew is poured into the small cups with a high sweeping motion of the pourer’s hand and arm in order to enhance aroma, sound and froth. The pouring part of the ceremony requires great skill to showcase the aroma and sound of the drink pouring, motivating the anticipation of guests. Coffee cups on the tray are then passed around. The coffee is enjoyed noisily sipped to bring air into their mouths, helping to spread the aroma and flavour on the palate.


The coffee:
In the East coffee is thick and syrupy, but filtered clear; always drunk without milk or sugar and it is taken without any food, though sometimes delicate slices of areca nut are provided. 

How it is served:
The coffee-bearer carries the fine-looking pot, made of tin and decorated with brass, in his left hand, while in his right he holds only a single small cup and saucer. Behind or next to him an assistant carries a tray with empty cups and a large reserve pot of coffee. 
Coffee is offered in tiny cups resting on gold or silver saucers. The coffee is poured out immediately prior to consumption. The task requires such skill that few servants are deemed fit for it. 

Egypt and North Africa

The Coffee:
The ingredients are very finely ground coffee, sometimes cardamom, cold water and sugar. 

How it is served:
Following Turkish tradition, the coffee is normally prepared using a narrow-topped small boiling pot called a Kanaka which is basically a tiny ewer, a teaspoon and a heating apparatus. Roasted and then finely ground coffee beans are boiled in a pot (cezve), with all the other ingredients. Traditionally, the pot is made of copper and has a wooden handle, although other metals such as aluminium with a non-stick coating are also used. and served in a demitasse cup where the grounds are allowed to settle. A demitasse is a small cup used to serve Turkish coffee or espresso.

Some modern cups have handles, traditional cups did not, and coffee was drunk either by handling the cup with the fingertips or by placing the cup in a zarf which is a metal container with a handle.

- PRESS RELEASE from FleishmanHillard


Read more on: coffee  |  drinks

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