The Renton Village Starbucks hosted an amazing traditional Ethiopia coffee tasting this past Sunday, the 26th. Two partners, Salem and Mesi worked together to host the event. Salem is a partner in Olympia and Mesi is a partner at the Renton Highlands Starbucks. Salem said that she was raised in Ethiopia and started making coffee with her mom at about age twelve. Ethiopian children are expected to help their moms in the kitchen with the traditional coffee ceremony even before their old enough to drink it. Salem recalls grinding coffee with a mortar and pestle before her parents even let her drink it. Coffee is roasted in the home, ground fairly finely, and poured into the Jabena (a traditional Ethiopian clay brewing pot) which is slowly brought to a boil.
This entire coffee tasting was memorizing and amazing: It seems like much more of an art than a science. Salem said that a lot of what you learn to do is based upon what your mom taught you - the coffee is ready to drink when it looks right. Weighing out the exact proportion of grounds to water isn't as important as developing the sense of what's the right amount of coffee in the Jabena and developing the sense of how to brew it. It's a fairly slow brew process on a low heat. Usually, a tiny amount of spices like cardamon and cinnamon are added to coffee, but only a dash. Traditional Ethiopian coffee usually is consumed with about a teaspoon of an organic (or less refined) sugar but no milk.
It's also traditional to burn a little incense during the family coffee event. Often a homemade bread is served with the coffee. Salem mentioned that she enjoys popcorn with coffee, though popcorn is not a traditional Ethiopian food.
One thing that I thought was interesting is that Selam mentioned that when the Jabena is brand new, it has to go through a few dry runs of making coffee or else your coffee will taste like clay.
Tonight's coffee tasting featured Starbucks core Ethiopia coffee.
The entire experience was enchanting. We watched every step. I loved the coffee. It was rich, sweet, and almost a little syrupy. This is my cup of coffee.
Hope you enjoy the pictures from the event!