In Ethiopia, an elaborate ceremony shows how coffee turns into a drink from a fruit — here’s what it’s like to participate

As legend has it, coffee was actually discovered by a goat herder named Kaldi, who found his goats hyper (buzzed) after eating a certain red fruit from surrounding shrub. That fruit was first documented as coffee in the 11th century, and it took on a reputation as a so-called magical fruit thought to have medicinal properties.

As a self-proclaimed coffee amateur, who until this very moment, had never consumed a single cup of coffee, I came into my experience in Lalibela, Ethiopia as a total outsider. The traditional coffee ceremony,  or jebena buna as it’s known in local Amharic tongue, is regarded as a sign of respect. And when I found myself with a coveted invitation, I was certainly not going to pass it up. The ceremony is a long process, averaging around one and a half hours, but it’s broken down into clear steps.

Here’s how the ceremony is performed, step by step.

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