Last week, when my sister, Rosalie, myself, and my daughter, Ja’Ana, went to visit our friend, Harnet, she served us yummy coffee, as she often does. I asked her if I could take lots of pictures to better describe and show the process, and she graciously agree. She got her new coffee table out, and set it up for coffee making.
Now, you must understand, coffee making and drinking it is not just to get something warm to drink first thing in the morning. It is done in her country, Eritrea, Africa, as a way to socialize, and is somewhat of a ceremony. There may be more reasons, too, but I’m still learning all about the whole process and may not know them, yet. We were told that it is customary to have coffee 3 times during a day’s visit, and that that brings a blessing with it. I always feel very blessed when we visit with her while sipping coffee.
The beans are green coffee beans that she buys at an Ethiopian grocery store. Eritrea is near Ethiopia, and there seems to be some things that are done the same way in both countries. She set up her burner and started roasting the beans.
Pretty soon, the beans begin popping and snapping and get darker in color. She shakes the pan, presumably so they don’t burn. The beans begin to emit a wonderful scent.
In just a few short minutes, the beans get quite dark, and Harnet deems them roasted to her satisfaction.
She pours them into a special basket so they can cool. While they are cooling, she carries them around to each of us so we can inhale the amazing odor. She always does this.
The roasted beans are ground.
Coffee grounds are put into the special coffee jug, with water, and placed back on the burner. (I’m sorry, I don’t know how much water and how much coffee—but its a LOT of coffee–it is very strong.)
It is poured into the small pitcher, and back into the jug to boil again. Milk is heated on the burner. Then, sugar is placed into the bottom of the little coffee cup, the coffee is put in next and the milk is added last. To keep the coffee grounds from getting into the cups, a piece of an old onion bag is scrunched up in the spout of the jug and it works amazingly well. Little spoons are given to each person so they can stir their coffee, and the cups are placed on saucers.
Then, we sit and sip our coffee. We visit and chat, and just enjoy the moment. We talk about what we have done since we last got together, and share our happy moments and bewail our woes. We talk about homework that needs to be done, whether or not the mail is important, discuss times for future visits, and how the children are doing, and laugh about the time I handed out 10 Advil tablets because I thought she wanted them, when in fact, she wanted 2! Sometimes, we talk of family members near and far, and look at pictures of them. We discuss last summer’s visit to the forest and falls, all with little Danuit climbing all over the couch and us, demanding coffee, which she gets about 1 teaspoon-ful of, with a lot of milk. She’d really like the big girls to put their heads on the floor, and their feet up into the air, and do a flip off the couch, as she does. They usually don’t, but once in a while, give in. That’s quite a sight! Coffee is not something to be rushed–no one is in a hurry. Often, several cups are consumed. This process is repeated several times during the day–3 or more, if we can fit it in. Otherwise, when time is tight, we enjoy having it once. Funny thing is–it is very relaxing, even though the coffee is chock-full of caffeine! My sister has to call it quits long before the last cup is offered out, or she ends up awake at 1 a.m., still jacked up from all the coffee!! When the last cup of coffee from the special jug is consumed, we either go off to an appointment, eat our lunch, or….it all starts over again a few minutes later. I expect that part of the appeal of it all is just that….in my hectic, busy life, I rarely take the time to just sit down and visit. And, you know what? It feels good when I do. So good, in fact, that when she offered to bring the entire set-up to Thanksgiving dinner, we jumped at the offer and told her to forget all about all the other things she was going to bring—just bring coffee!!!