104 - Kafa Anyone?

By Mary Luz Mejia

Published September 21, 2005

If you think you owe your daily caffeine rush to South American coffee beans, think again.

It's said that ancient Abyssinia, now called Ethiopia, is actually coffee's birthplace. The indigenous Kafa trees of an area called Kafa are said to be the actual origins of the word "coffee."

Cultivation of the native Arabica bean, started as early as the sixth century. Back then coffee beans were often consumed as food, for an energy boost. Highland nomadic tribes mixed crushed beans with animal fat to be rationed during their long, exhaustive trips.

Today, Ethiopian coffee is considered one of the world's finest. No visit to an Ethiopian restaurant is complete until you've savoured this smooth, dark brew. At Fasika Restaurant, green Arabica beans are roasted to a rich, chocolatey brown, while frankincense burns during the coffee service, giving the experience almost a ritualistic feel.

The beans are finely ground and then boiled in water in an earthenware coffee pot with a narrow spout. The pot is then presented to the table with a number of small, handle-less cups alongside a bowl of popcorn for snacking.

There's sugar for sweetening your cup (although some prefer a pinch of salt), resulting in the most flavourful, bitter-free brew you'll likely ever savour. And while you sip your ebony elixir, think about the influence this heady brew has had on society. If some of those precious beans hadn't been smuggled into southern India in the 1600's, where the rest of the world eventually got its hands on this 'magic potion', your morning get up and go might have got up and left without you.

Fasika Restaurant
834 Bloor Street West
Toronto, Ontario