How to Make Coffee in Eritrea
If you are like me, you are a tremendous fan of coffee. (It does’t help living in Germany where the espresso machines are like BMWs and it’s offered every time you step foot inside a dwelling. Any dwelling).
But if I know you, which I think I might, you not only love the taste of coffee, nor the pick me up, but the daily ritual. Which is why being a part of a traditional Eritrean coffee ceremony was so incredibly special.
This area of Northern Africa invented this method of grinding beans and brewing thousands of years ago; it's considered the birthplace of coffee. Legend has it that an Ethiopian goat herder found the beans’ peppy properties when he saw his goats frolicking around enthusiastically. It would only be a matter of time before the rest of the world caught on.
The process takes about an hour: coffee is first brewed by roasting the green beans in a menkenkesh, over a small fumello. After the beans are roasted, they are ground with a mortar and pestal and brewed in a Jebanah, a clay pot that they say makes Eritrean coffee different than Turkish or Arabic coffee. Frankincense is also a large part of the flavor. The incense is burned and served with popcorn, enjoyed between sips of the fresh brew, and patrons usually fill their coffee four to five times.
You have to get out of the big cities to experience it. We were brought into this cafe in Keren, one of Eritrea’s famously authentic cities, known for its camel market and its bridging of East meets West. This cafe was kind enough to let me film the process.
The music in the video is a fantastic Tigrinya song that was playing in the cafe, a mix of Arabic and Afro-beat that I fell in love with over the course of the trip.