For a stranger, coffee ceremony in Ethiopia may look like a ritual which is not really the case. Just like Ethiopian meal, Ethiopian coffee event tend to collective feature. Whether served at home or in a cafè, Coffee is essentially a social event and is meant to make people settle a bit and have a chat. And who would go to, in the Ethiopia the writer knows twenty or so years ago, a cafè alone to have coffee. Undoubtedly, it would have kindle curiosity to know if the person was sane.
This writer was a bit perplexed upon observing,about ten years ago and in the early weeks of ‘resettlement’ in Canada, an individualized coffee experience and the practice of having coffee on the go and all by oneself. Underlying the bewilderment is the notion that coffee is about ambiance and get together.
Now, a certain NGO in Ethiopia seem to exploit the traditional coffee ceremony in Ethiopia as an “innovative solution” to combat HIV AIDS. An employee of one of the organizations is quoted as saying
- ‘I really enjoy the coffee ceremony. It encourages everyone to get involved and achieves the desired results. People leave empowered and with a sense of achievement. Ignorance and misconceptions are discussed in depth. This helps clear the air and banish doubt and fear. I love my work. I really feel that change must start with each and every one of us. The coffee ceremony helps me and my colleagues to develop an awareness of our actions and of the risks posed by HIV. The instrument itself is routinely discussed with the […] experts. During these sessions, we work on specific themes together and improve our moderation skills.’
That might sound like a bit of an exaggeration. In the first place the consumption of coffee locally is proving to be difficult as it has become incredibly expensive due to export for exploitative coffee roasters. Besides, the alleged economic growth in Ethiopia is said to have left well over two-third of the population in an absolute poverty. No wonder an NGO is virtually sponsoring a coffee ceremony.