Coffee Far from Home
Jet Balloon
Posted: January 01, 2024
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    Anteneh Mulu poses behind the counter after serving a customer at his coffee shop in August 2023. He runs The Ethiopian Coffee Company in central London, England. (AP/Almaz Abedje)
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    Several types of coffee beans are laid out for sale at Sholla Market, an outdoor flea market in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. (AP/Almaz Abedje)
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    Emebyt Demke, 51, sets down a jebena, or Ethiopian clay coffee pot at Kaffa Coffee in East London. She used it to pour coffee into a small, traditional coffee cup, also known as a sini. (AP/Almaz Abedje)
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    Tourists and residents alike visit The Ethiopian Coffee Company’s stall in central London in September 2023. (AP/Almaz Abedje)
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    Anteneh Mulu poses in front of artwork illustrating the origin story of coffee at his shop, The Ethiopian Coffee Company. (AP/Almaz Abedje)
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Mmmm. Smell that? Fresh coffee beans roast in a pot.

Growing up in Ethiopia, Yared Markos often started his days with coffee. The strong aroma drew in family members, neighbors, and passersby. Who made the coffee? Often, his mom. Who was invited to come in for a cup? Anyone at all.

And this tradition wasn’t limited to the morning. Coffee, or buna in the Ethiopian language Amharic, is typically enjoyed at the end of each meal.

Later, Mr. Markos moved to London, England. There, Starbucks baristas sold Ethiopian coffee. But they didn’t make it the Ethiopian way.

In 2004, Mr. Markos opened a London coffee shop of his own. He called it Kaffa Coffee. Kaffa is a region in Ethiopia. People believe coffee beans were discovered there around A.D. 800.

At Mr. Markos’ shop, guests participate in traditional Ethiopian coffee ceremonies.

“Tourists will walk by and smell the coffee and come in asking questions,” Mr. Markos says. “It makes people want to learn more about the culture.”

Brits are famous for their love of tea. But Ethiopian coffee is so good that it has sneaked its way into cities all over the world. When he moved to London, Mr. Markos didn’t see any Ethiopian coffee shops. Now more than a dozen serve up the tasty brew all over the city.

The Legend of Ethiopian Coffee

An Ethiopian herder named Kaldi watched his goats. They had eaten berries from a tree. Now they were acting strangely. Kaldi tried the berries himself. He felt very awake!

Kaldi took the berries to a monk. The monk threw them in a fire, calling them the work of the devil. But the burning berries smelled good. The monks put them in a jug with hot water. When they drank it, it helped them stay awake during nightly devotions and prayers.

For Ethiopians, coffee isn’t just about staying awake. It’s also about spending time with people you love. Have you ever noticed that you feel closest to the people you eat and drink with often?

And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts. — Acts 2:46

Why? God gave us food and drink to enjoy together in community.