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A coffee, not tea, ceremony

by Chiho Iuchi

A traditional Ethiopian coffee ceremony will delight visitors to the MOA Museum of Art in Atami, Shizuoka Prefecture, Aug. 22-23.

As the country in which coffee plants originated and were first cultivated, Ethiopia boasts a sophisticated culture of coffee ceremony. The ceremony is practiced by women — mostly housewives — to entertain guests and friends at home. It shares a sense of gratitude and hospitality akin to the Japanese tea ceremony, but the atmosphere is more casual.

The whole process takes more than an hour. First, green coffee beans are washed and roasted in a steel pan over hot coals. Guests enjoy the aromatic smoke, wafted toward them by the hostess. This is followed by grinding in a wooden mortar and pestle, boiling in a special vessel and serving. The grounds are brewed and tasted three times. Then, a blessing is given by the guest of honor.

The coffee ceremonies will be performed as part of “Africa Fair,” events related to the museum’s current exhibition “African Aesthetics.”

With the cooperation of their embassy, three Ethiopians will serve as hostesses.

Also featured at the “Africa Fair” are West African costumes, flower arrangements, dance and concerts with djembe (skin-covered hand drums).

The Ethiopian Coffee Ceremony takes place at MOA Museum of Art, 26-2 Momoyama-cho, Atami, Shizuoka Prefecture, on Aug. 22 at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m., and Aug. 23 at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. Admission is free for museum ticket-holders. For more details, call the museum (0557) 84-2511, or visit www.moaart.or.jp