330 Kms from Addis Ababa the town of Jimma is the capital of the old province of Kaffa from which the name coffee is belived to have origionated because the region is belived to be the home of coffee. The road from Addis to Jimma passes across the spectacular Gibe river Gorge. The bridge over the river is the point where the name of the river changes form Gibe to Omo. Places of interest in Jimma include the palace of the local King Aba Jiffar and Jimma Museum.

Home of Coffee

cofeeEthiopian coffee is legendary - in reputation and in tradition. According to folklore, it was discovered by an Ethiopian goat-herder named Kaldi, whose name has been eternalized by the most popular chain of coffee cafés in Ethiopia, “Kaldi’s Coffee.” Kaldi noticed that when his goats ate the berries of a certain kind of bush, they became more energetic. This prompted Kaldi to test out the beans himself, and when he felt the vitality that the beans gave him, he instantly knew that he had made an important discovery. 

Today, coffee beans are one of the major exports of Ethiopia - constituting around 30% of Ethiopia’s annual export revenue, almost 1/4 of the population depends on the coffee trade as its source of income. Farmers have cultivated coffee  using the same methods for hundreds of years; the work is still done almost exclusively by hand. In certain regions of Ethiopia, coffee cultivation dominates the landscape and you can drive for miles through nothing but coffee-land. Ethiopia grows a few different of varieties of coffee: Sidamo, Harar, Limu, and Yirgacheffe, all named after the region they are primarily grown in.

Coffee ceremony

cofee ceremonyThe coffee ceremony is the age-old and traditional ritual for coffee preparation and consumption. It can take place at any time of day, and some Ethiopians even partake in it 2-3 times every day. The coffee ceremony is often set up as an ongoing installment at restaurants and malls; someone will repeat the ritual throughout the day as guests come and go. The coffee beans are first roasted over hot coals in a pot while the aromatic smoke is wafted towards participants so they can smell the beans. Once roasted, the beans are ground up and put into a kettle in which they are boiled. Usually, the burning of incense accompanies the preparation of the coffee; the pleasing odors blend together to create an enticing sensation. After the brewing is complete, the coffee is poured through a filter into cups, sugar is added, and it is passed out to participants. Water is then added to the grounds remaining in the kettle, which are brewed 2-3 times before new beans are roasted.