This past Monday, I had the pleasure of joining Jane Velez-Mitchell on her Facebook LunchBreakLIVE show, except this time, we went to a restaurant! The usual format of her show is to go into someone's home and watch someone make a 30-minute recipe for lunch, but she is now going to be doing some shows at restaurants, as well. We went to Rahel's Vegan Cuisine, an Ethiopian restaurant in Little Ethiopia in Los Angeles, and while I've been there before, I have never experienced a traditional Ethiopian coffee ceremony! If you want to check out our episode on Jane's show, you can watch Rahel make a mixed veggie recipe, and learn more about her contribution to veganism, see us dig into a healthy veggie feast, learn about some traditional Ethiopian drinks, and learn about our coffee ceremony! You can also watch some behind the scenes footage by checking out this YouTube video. But I wanted to share a little bit with you about the coffee ceremony, because I think it's just so cool to experience this part of someone's culture.
When you walk into Rahel's, there's a separate area of the restaurant where you can sit in a circular arrangement around the coffee ceremony. You can choose to dine in, and/or experience a coffee ceremony, which I believe is served with desserts, not savory food. Traditional Ethiopian coffee ceremonies take place three times a day, and are usually led by, and for, women. It's considered an honor to be the woman leading the coffee ceremony. Men can join (I think), but it's usually women chatting about the community, politics, and gossiping about their husbands! The coffee comes from kaffa, and the beans are roasted at the table over a burner until the beans smell toasty. In traditional ceremonies, it's considered rude to leave a coffee ceremony until you've had three cups of coffee- luckily they are small cups- and ceremonies are performed three times a day! (Does that mean 9 cups of coffee per day? This is my first Ethiopian coffee ceremony, I'm still not the expert). During our coffee ceremony (which was traditional for LA, but not Ethiopia traditional you know), we munched on mango cake (amazing! You must get this at Rahel's!), baklava, gluten-free teff cookies (teff is what injera bread is made of, the tortilla-isa wrapper you eat Ethiopian food with), Mexican wedding cookies, and raw cheesecake.
I'm new to this kind of traditional coffee ceremony, so this won't be too comprehensive until I learn more. Interestingly enough, I also recently experience a cacao ceremony with a Peruvian medicine woman this past winter. I'm also interested in learning more about Japanese matcha tea ceremonies, fika, the Swedish coffee break, and anything really that combines food/beverages and tradition/spirituality. Are you interested in these ceremonies and traditions as I am? Let me know in the comments if you've tried an Ethiopian coffee ceremony, if there's anything you've experienced that's super cool, and if there's anything you're interested in learning more about!