April 3, 2012

The most interesting experience this past Sunday.

Sidamo Coffee & Tea on the H Street Corridor
So this past Sunday, I had the privilege of spending part of my afternoon at an Ethiopian Coffee shop called Sidamo Coffee & Tea on H street.  If you are a D.C native, you would already know that H street NE is going through a total overhaul; community is changing, roads reconstructed, there is now a track for street cars, like one already in San Francisco.  The revitalization has already created opportunities for small businesses, there are hip bars and restaurants that already called The H Street Corridor home; attracting the young and bohemian crowd as well mixed cultures.
Member of staff prepare for Buna Coffee ceremony 
At Sidamo, I witnessed the most interesting cultural ritual well known to the Ethiopians (this coffee shop made a name for themselves based on this .) Every Sunday, around 2pm there is an Ethiopian coffee ceremony. I noticed a member of the shop's staff dressed in traditional Ethiopian garb, lays out a green mat, sets-up a propane burner, pours out green unroasted coffee beans from one of the big bags placed in the front of the shop and starts roasting the beans towards the front of the store for everyone to see (now if you are a coffee drinker, Starbucks ain't got nothing on this, this ain't for the faint of heart.) The aroma is strong and rustic, for a lack of better description. By the time the coffee turned a nice dark brown (like the coffee beans you're accustomed to, she takes some of the coffee and passes it by the all the patrons for everyone to take a whiff (a true coffee drinker would definitely appreciate that. Me? My coffee usually have to be watered down with heavy cream and sugar, I can't take strong coffee like that, but it was nice.) 
Patrons witnessed first hand an Ethiopian Tradition
The staff member proceeded to ground the coffee beans and brew it in some boiling water in a Gebena (a type of pot.) She had the cutest coffee cups, they were puny (a little smaller than a traditional tea cup.) She proceeded to distribute the brewed coffee to the patrons and everyone gets a taste. I tasted my coffee and couldn't stomach it (it was very strong.) My boyfriend had the privilege of sampling for the both of us (he's an espresso drinker, he just chugged it down like it was nothing.) Lest I forget they also served fresh homemade popcorn. 

I had the privilege of speaking to one of the shop owners, Kenfe Bellay.  He told me that this tradition had been held for centuries.  Called the Buna Coffee ceremony, this is an everyday ritual in Ethiopia, they either held this in the morning or evening. I also learned that day that Ethiopia is one of the biggest coffee growers, they grow the Arabica coffee.  The name Sidamo - derived from one of the provinces in Ethiopia known for their coffee, shop serves up other menu items like sandwiches and soups, their coffee is imported by fair trade, all organic, and can be bought by the pound. While sitting in the store I could hear some rich African music in the background, mostly by Fela Kuti.  Patrons usually sat down for a while with their computers and other electronic devices enjoying their lattes and the cozy atmosphere.  Kenfe also showed me a giant coffee roaster, used to roast about 50 pounds of coffee a day.
If you are looking for a relaxing place to go to on a Sunday (or any other day of the week,) head over to Sidamo Coffee and Tea located at 417 H Street NE, close to Union Station, the National Postal Museum and The Capitol.

 Hope you are enjoying your day!

No comments :

Post a Comment

Join the conversation

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...