Coming from Costa Rica, a country rich in the culture of coffee, I learned to appreciate this drink even from a young age. However, my curiosity to have a better understanding of this fruit that is so well appreciated all over the world, took a long time to be awakened.
In the beginning of the year 2016, I embarked on the journey of becoming a barista at the Costa Rican School of Coffee. For the first few days, my interests were solely based on the technical aspects of making coffee, but as I learned more about the history of this drink, my attention was brought to the country of its origin: Ethiopia.
Little did I know that a few months later, God would take me on a tour to this place that I now call “The Homeland of the Perfect Bean.”
The culture of coffee in Ethiopia goes much further than a simple fruit of great quality that is handpicked, sundried, and slowly roasted. It’s an important aspect of the Ethiopian lifestyle. It’s consumed daily, at all hours of the day, and by people of all ages. It’s also a significant source of their economy as they export it all over the world.
What I love most about coffee is how easily relationships can be built around the simple joy of having a cup together, no matter the place or time. In Ethiopia this wasn’t an exception. During my stay there it was the norm to meet someone in the streets and within five minutes of conversation be invited into their home for buna. With this, I want to emphasize the friendliness of the Ethiopian people and their interest in making sure foreigners feel welcomed.
During these spontaneous visits, it is common to be introduced to their coffee ceremony, in which the host roasts and grinds the coffee beans on the spot in preparation for the brewing and serving of the coffee, while there is burning incense to add extra aroma. In my opinion the incense was a bit too strong and not exactly pleasing to my senses – but what’s most important is the experience of being together.
In conclusion, it doesn’t matter whether you like your coffee made in a classic coffee maker, in a practical AeroPress, or any other brewing method, what’s most important is the use of coffee to continue nourishing and strengthening relationships with our loved ones. To spend time investing in the friendships that matter to us. And why not, while we’re at it, build some new ones?
Written by; Jorge Palma, Costa Rica
Photo: Elliot Daly