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Year 2020 is upon us! The first thing that comes to mind is tteokguk. Korea has a fun tradition by which this hot, white soup with coin-like rice cakes is eaten on New Year s Day, thereby making one a year older. Likewise, various customs exist in other countries to wish for happiness and wellness for the coming year.So how do people around the world celebrate New Year?Let's take a look at the New Year's customs and traditional foods around the world!
There is a warm, dark-colored liquid that makes people instantly feel better after taking a sip, and fills the body with energy with wide open eyes! That magical drink is coffee. Nowadays, it is not so difficult to come across a place where one can experience fresh, flavorful coffee with world-famous coffee shops, cafes that only deal in specialty coffee, and roasteries offering freshly roasted beans. However, none can compare to the flavor and fragrance of bunna (meaning coffee in Amharic) from Ethiopia, the original birthplace of coffee. One cup of coffee made with sincerity, with beans roasted and ground by hand, is infused with care, love, wishes, respect, and all sorts of other positive energy.Bunna, not coffeeAfter being in Ethiopia, there are now only two types of coffee for me. Ethiopian coffee, and the rest. Of course, coffee is a product of personal preference, so individuals will have different tastes and preferences. Even so, it would be illogical for a person to claim to know about coffee without having tasted Ethiopian coffee, whether they are a famous barista, roaster, or cafe owner. By Ethiopian coffee , I do not mean high-quality Arabica like Gesah or Yirgacheffe. I am referring to Bunna. I mean the coffee with a thick consistency that is made with the traditional Ethiopian roasting and grinding methods.Bunna presents a new sensation that cannot be seen, tasted, or smelled in other coffee. The coffee is brewed to a thick, reddish color. It does not require focusing the senses of the nose to smell the coffee, as it gives off a strong aroma on its own. As soon as the coffee touches the tip of the tongue, all sorts of flavors that are hard to define clearly including a natural sweetness, a gentle sourness that does not sting the taste buds, a slight saltiness, and nutty flavors storm the inside of the mouth like an orchestra. The clean aftertaste that does not linger bitterly in the mouth after emptying the whole cup is quite fascinating. Truly, absolutely, delicious.At least three cups a day, the kingdom of coffee Have you had coffee? , Do you want to get coffee? , Can I offer you coffee? These are the words that I heard in Ethiopia most frequently. It is equivalent to the Korean expression, Have you eaten? To Ethiopian people, coffee is more than a simple drink. It means care for the other person, and the way that people greet one another. It is a symbol of friendliness and an offering.The Ethiopian myth regarding the creation of coffee is well known. Around the 6th and 7th centuries, a shepherd named Kaldi observed that his goats would not sleep at night, and would run around energetically after eating a kind of red beans that he had not seen before. So Kaldi took some of the beans home for himself, boiled them in water, and drank it. His mind became clear and fresh. Excited at his discovery of the mysterious plant, Kaldi told the Islamic monks about the beans. They called them devil s fruits , and tossed them into the fire. But soon even more fragrant and delicious smells started to come from the fruits that were tossed into the fire. That is said to be how coffee came about. There is no way of knowing whether Kaldi in this believable myth really existed. One thing we can be sure of, however, is that Ethiopia has the most perfect natural environment for coffee to grow. That is, Ethiopia, located in an alpine region more than 2,000 m above sea level, has a stable climate that is not too cold and not too warm throughout the year. So Kaldi s goats probably found and ate the coffee cherries without much difficulty. One thing that is more important than the myth is that the unique culture in Ethiopia shows how the people love and cherish coffee. Ethiopia is the only country among countries that export coffee beans that has its own unique coffee drinking culture. This is called bunna maflat, which can be translated to coffee ceremony . This is a ceremony that is treated as holy like a religious ritual. It is designed to appreciate the entire process of drinking coffee, starting from washing and roasting the green coffee beans. The ritual can be carried out at any time of the day, but most people do it while having breakfast, lunch, or dinner. It is customary to drink at least 3 cups of coffee during the ceremony, so if one person has two or three meetings in a day, the person would end up having at least 6 cups in one day.People do bunna maflat with their family members at home, but one can easily notice people doing bunna maflat on the streets and in shops. As this special way of drinking coffee shows, Bunna Maflat is more than an event, but is more like finding peace of mind in daily life.The most elegant coffee ceremony in the worldIn order to do the coffee ceremony, the surrounding environment must first be set. First of all, clean the place where the ceremony is to take place. Then, place ketema leaves, which signify welcome and good luck, and prepare a small dinner table called rekebot on top of the leaves. On the table, place small coffee cups called sini for the number of guests. Only women can host the coffee ceremony.Coffee ceremony procedures1. RoastingBefore roasting coffee beans, light a strong incense. This is to get rid miscellaneous smells from the surroundings so that the coffee scent is highlighted more strongly. Place clean, washed green beans into a pan with a long handle called a menkeshkesh. Put the pan on a small brazier to slowly start the hand roasting procedure. Move the pan slightly to roast the coffee beans. Using a fan is essential to adjust the intensity of the fire. Once the green beans start to turn brown, extra attention must be paid to prevent the beans from burning. It is up to the roaster, the hostess of the ceremony, to decide how much the beans are to be roasted, so the flavor of the coffee can vary infinitely. Usually, when the crack in the middle of the bean is visible and the natural oil from the beans begins to come out making the surface of the beans shiny, remove the pan from the brazier to cool.2. BrewingThe roasted coffee beans are then placed in a wooden mortar called a mukecha, then ground by hand. In this process, the strong nutty fragrance of the coffee now fills the air. Once the coffee beans are ground nicely, put the powder into a dark teakettle with a long, narrow spout called a jebena. Put boiled water in the jebena, pour the coffee water into a cup, then pour it back into the jebena so that the coffee powder and water mix well. Repeat the same process several times. Place the jebena on the brazier again and boil the mixture for several minutes. When steam starts to come out from the spout, it means the coffee is ready.3. CuppingSince all of the coffee powder must sink to the bottom of the jebena, tilt the jebena a bit to one side. Before pouring the coffee, the hostess asks the guests if they would like sugar in their coffee. Most Ethiopians mix two spoons of sugar with their coffee. Sometimes leaves called tena'adam are mixed with coffee to give it a lighter taste. The coffee is then poured into the sini cups prepared in advance. When pouring the coffee, the jebena is raised as high as possible to create foam to give the coffee even better flavor.During a coffee ceremony, it is a basic courtesy to drink at least three cups of coffee. The first cup is called abol, the second cup tawna, and the third cup baraka. You may be concerned about excessive consumption of caffeine, but the second and third cups are more diluted with water, and thus have weaker flavor and strength.One ceremony usually takes about one and a half to two hours maximum. If the conversation gets interesting in the middle, it easily extends by an extra hour. When an Ethiopian friend asks, Nu Bunna Tetu? (Shall we get some coffee?), do not expect a quick sip.Ethiopians are the people who know coffee the best, and have been drinking coffee for the longest time. To them, coffee is their national pride and identity, and is a way of life. An Ethiopian proverb summarizes this well: Buna dabo aw. Translated literally, it means, Coffee is our bread. To Ethiopians, the golden coffee beans are as precious as a staple food. Ethiopia, the birthplace of the human race and of coffee. In the dullness of everyday life, people here are leading a full life energized by the fragrance of coffee, like receiving aroma therapy.Written by Suh Hyewon Photos by Han Sang-mooh