In the gentrification melting pot of Bushwick, Brooklyn, lies a little Ethiopian cafe Bunna, serving authentic coffee alongside vegan delicacies. A few times a week you can join the Ethiopian coffee ceremony for the real foreign experience.
“It’s about the experience, about seeing the coffee, gathering together,” shares Liyuw Ayalew, owner of Bunna Cafe. “This is everyday life for an Ethiopian. Growing up with my mom, she would roast coffee and she would tell me to invite the neighbors to come have coffee and that would happen three times a day.”
In the middle of the cafe for the coffee ceremony a “rekbot” is set-up, a piece of furniture that serves as the staging platform for the coffee making.
The coffee is exported from Ethiopia and picked up in Washington, D.C. from a local coffee importer. “He gets many varieties so I go over to see what I would like to get,” said Ayalew.
An Ethiopian native, Lidiya Sendeke, is roasting coffee beans in-house.
Meanwhile, spiced sugar is sitting on a hot coal, filling the room with traditional Ethiopian aromas. These spices are added into the coffee as well, gifting it with notes of cardamom, cinnamon and clove.
After preparing the beans, Sendeke carries the roast across the cafe for people to enjoy the fresh, warm aroma.
“Ethiopian culture and coffee ceremonies are inseparable from one another,” said Meron Tebeje, an Ethiopian native and frequent visitor of the cafe. “It has a spiritual essence with the roasting of the beans and brings conversational company to any home. Coffee for me means home, it’s my comfort and healing in many ways.”
The coffee is striking, like a shot of espresso, yet tender with the warm, cozy spices. It will inspire anyone to come back again for this spiritual and homely ceremony.