All About Coffee, 3 Months at Site

Somebody told me it takes 3 months to adjust to a completely new situation. If so, then I’m right on schedule.

As I slowly wake up, while still lying in bed in the morning, I try to determine if I have electricity, because that determines how easy the morning will be. I have an electric stove (slow, but easy) and a charcoal stove (slow to get started, but much faster and hotter than electric).

If I have electricity, I roll out of bed, turn on the kettle, and crawl back in bed, usually to read. If I don’t have power, I wait till I wake up fully, then bring my charcoal stove outside, collect tinder, and start it.

I don’t teach until almost 1pm, so my mornings are pretty peaceful. When I make lunch, I try to make enough to last me for dinner too…because I’m a lazy cook. Since I broke my laptop, I’ve been reading more. I also have a guitar that I play on occasion. I found a mat that works well for yoga, and of course there are always papers to grade and lessons to plan.

Many mornings I’m invited to my neighbors for coffee. (They are confused that I drink coffee first, then eat breakfast.)

Speaking of coffee…

(A neighbor friend – Samira.)

About a week into this adventure, while completely sleep deprived and scrambling to adjust to a new…everything, I wrote a post mentioning Ethiopian coffee here: Magic Coffee.

Since I’ve now been here awhile, and I’m living in the heart of the coffee growing region, I thought I should write another post and do the subject justice.

Nearby is the Keffa region, the place in the world coffee was named for. All around Jimma are the places where the best coffee in the world is grown. Here, I can get a cup of coffee for 3birr (27birr : $1). The coffee exported from here is the super fancy stuff sold for $4 or $5 a cup at Starbucks. So that’s amusing.

First the beans are picked. (Right now is coffee harvesting season.) They’re dried in the sun, and then the cherry is taken off and the beans are dried again. This is the step where coffee is usually sold.

When you get the beans, you want to wash them again, and roast them. Don’t wash and let sit. I made that mistake. It was super sad. Once they’re roasted, you grind them. Either by pounding them, or, if there’s electricity, by a grinder I bought for 150birr. Totally worth it.

Traditionally, coffee (buna) is roasted and brewed in front of you. I keep some grounds handy because I brought a small French press. What Ethiopians do, is put a few spoonfuls into a djebena (coffee pot), and put it on the fire. They wait until it boils, then pull it off the fire to let the grinds settle to the bottom of the pot. They serve it in small cups – with sugar, salt, butter or “dua” (black). Lately, sugar has been super expensive because of a shortage, so yeroo hunda (always) I have been drinking my coffee dua.

People drop in on their friends for coffee frequently. If someone is making it, they will invite everyone over. When I was sick, my land lady offered me coffee in bed. When she twisted her ankle hard, I brought her some in bed. A PCV told me once that he never ran across a problem that he couldn’t solve with a conversation over coffee.

It’s a deeply cultural experience, which is why coffee is still inexpensive here. I’ve heard PCVs in Columbia drink instant coffee, because all the good coffee gets exported. I’m thoroughly addicted to caffeine, and coffee is my favorite form. So I’m grateful.

Just like in the US – if it starts with coffee, it’ll be a good day.

(Sometimes all it takes is the truly bizarre to brighten my day.)


4 thoughts on “All About Coffee, 3 Months at Site

  1. Love the coffee lesson! When I did drink coffee one of my favorites was Ethiopian Harrar! Delicious! Sounds like you are adjusting just fine! I knew you would! Love, Sara

    Liked by 1 person

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