Monday, December 8, 2014

An interview with Harrar Coffee & Roastery: their weekly Ethiopian coffee ceremony, Ethiopian coffee and more

A bit ago I was approached by the folks at Harrar Coffee & Roastery on Georgia Avenue about their coffee ceremony, a traditional part of Ethiopian culture, and about their coffee. I wasn't very familiar with the ceremony, which they do every Saturday (pictuered here) or why Ethiopian coffee is always talked about, and I've enjoyed my visits to Harrar, so we decided to chat. Here's what Ali from Harrar had to say about the ceremony and their coffee.

Tell us how Harrar Coffee & Roastery came about.

Harrar Coffee & Roastery is a local, family-owned business offering a variety of high-quality coffees at a competitive price. We opened our coffee shop with a single vision: to deliver outstanding coffee to our community. We are determined to become a “must-have” and the go-to cafe for the neighborhood’s coffee lovers and local businesses.

What is an Ethiopian coffee ceremony?

As many may not know, Ethiopia is the birthplace of coffee, we came up with the idea of serving our coffee once a week in the traditional way. The coffee ceremony is a tradition and ancient way of Ethiopian social and cultural life. The way we perform the ceremony is passed on through generations. In Ethiopia, an invitation to join a coffee ceremony is considered a mark of friendship and respect. Performing the ceremony is obligatory in the presence of a visitor no matter the time of the day. We only use fresh roasted coffee to preserve the quality and the taste, which is why we take our time and roast the green coffee in front of the guests to offer them nothing but the best. The ceremony is usually conducted by a woman dressed in the traditional Ethiopian clothing of a white dress with colored woven borders. Harrar Coffee & Roastery offers this tradition and ancient way of tremendous respect, love and hospitality to our customers every Saturday at 11:30 a.m.

How does Ethiopian coffee differ from other coffee?

There are over 200 different types of coffee variety in Ethiopia. However, most people know only a few. Ethiopian coffees are bold and flavorful because of the soil and climate they are cultivated on. If you take the exact same coffee bean and plant it in different countries, the results will differ. Harrar Coffee & Roastery future plan is to bring numerous coffee types from Ethiopia and other African countries and offer it to our customers for an affordable price. Also, in an effort to encourage the small Ethiopian farmers, who produce the coffee through time-honored and traditional farming methods, we would like to one day plant coffee trees in Ethiopia to help fight climate changes in the world.

Can you tell us about your beans and roasting?

We cannot state it enough, but we stand behind our quality coffee. The other thing that makes us unique is that we use Harrar coffee for our espressos drinks. Considered the best coffee in Ethiopia and probably around the world, Harrar coffee is grown in the Harar region of Ethiopia Eastern highlands, and is the oldest coffee beans still produced. It is known for its distinctive fruity, wine flavor. The bean is medium in size with a greenish-yellowish color. It has medium acidity and full body and a distinctive mocha flavor. Harrar Coffee is a dry processed coffee bean with sorting and processing done almost entirely by hand.

We roast our coffee in small batches daily. As we all know fresh is the way to go for the best cup of coffee. We pride ourselves in providing the freshest and flavorful coffee in town. At the moment, we offer Harrar, Sidamo, Yirgacheffe, Amaro Gayo, Limu from Ethiopia, Supremo, Excelso and Decaf from Colombia, Kenya and Peru to name a few.


  1. This place is great! It's a shame I moved from two blocks to two miles away.

  2. They have the best coffee in DC


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