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

First, coffee cherries are picked and peeled to expose the raw coffee bean.

First, coffee cherries are picked and peeled to expose the raw coffee bean.

It all starts with the unpicked, virgin coffee cherries. In Lalibela, they grow in abundance in almost every local’s backyard. The cherries, when red and ripe, are picked and peeled to expose the raw bean. The husks and debris are then shaken out of the beans until they are pure.

The host — the youngest female in the family — then heats the beans in a clay pot over hot coals.

The host — the youngest female in the family — then heats the beans in a clay pot over hot coals.

A traditional coffee ceremony is always conducted by the youngest female in the family. It is an honor to host the ceremony, and every step and guest is carefully attended to. Once the beans are clean, she fills a long-necked, black clay pot (known as a jebena) with water and places it over hot coals.

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