Eritrean Coffee–SO GOOD


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!!!


18 thoughts on “Eritrean Coffee–SO GOOD”

  1. Now that coffee is an art! I enjoyed seeing your pics and the process! When I was little my neighbor from Yugoslavia (and my grandparents also were from there) used to have me come over for coffee with lots of milk and sugar….fond memories. Andrea

  2. Many thanks to Harnet for sharing her coffee making custom! It is nice to learn about other cultures and customs. Through Harnet’s story, I’ve learned something new today 🙂 Please tell Harnet that I appreciate learning about Eritrean customs as much as she appreciates learning about American customs.

  3. That is so interesting. I finally stopped to look at where Eritrean is on the map. I moved across the city and it was such a big deal, can’t imagine moving all that way!! I’m sure she and her daughter are much safer here and I’m glad they could join our melting pot.

    1. I, also, had absolutely no idea where Eritrea was located–Africa’s a pretty big place–until I looked it up the first time we went with my sister to visit:) We went the first time because my sister knew Harnet, so the 2 I homeschool could eat the food from there, etc., and ended up going back and back and back:)

  4. How interesting, and the beautiful photos.. I enjoyed reading and seeing the process. I could “almost” smell
    that wonderful aroma.
    Thanks to Harnet for allowing you to get the photos and share them with us.

  5. Thank you for sharing that with us, Becky, and please tell Harnet thank you from me, too, for being willing to share the process with us I could almost smell the aroma of freshly roasted and ground coffee from here! We had coffee plants growing in our backyard, in my childhood home. I remember picking the ripe red coffee berries, which were then dried in the sun and roasted. Coffee was grown commercially in the country until the coffee blight wiped out most of it and then, we started to grow tea, instead.

    I was very interested in the coffee pot Harnet used to brew the coffee. It looks very much like the vessel we used to keep drinking water cool, except, our vessels didn’t have a handle!

  6. The post I have been waiting for! Just went to Amazon and found some unroasted Ethiopia coffee and it is in my shopping cart. I have got to try this.

    Did Harnet add any oil or anything to the beans before she roasted them?

    1. I’m glad you enjoyed it. No, she just put beans and nothing else in there. She did shake it a bit, kind of like you shake popcorn in a pan, but not as vigorously. I’m going to see her Friday. I’ll run all these questions by her in case I missed anything!

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