Thursday, November 6, 2008

Gondar Barista

This Gondar Barista was so overwhelmed she couldn't even smile.

Very unusual in Ethiopia where young and old are the most friendly and warm people I ever encountered.

Although Ethiopian coffee beans are the best in the world and the locals like to get high on their own supply, the coffee drinking in Ethiopia was not what it should be.

Two things to separate. First you have their famous coffee ceremony. Let's say the way they roast, grind and brew their coffee at home for the last hundreds of years. On this one I'll post you later on.
Second is the espresso machine. Even the smallest bar has one. On the photo you see a typical espresso lever machine. The fact the Italians where colonising this country for a very short period makes it a place where it's normal to drink macchiato's or espresso. And the lever machines are still omni present. Even new machines have often one or two handles to press the hot water through the filter baskets.

The espresso is mostly served in small cups, filled to the rim. The looks and taste reminds me a bit of France, but not as bad.
The macchiato (very cheap; plus minus 20 Euroct) is served in a small glass and resembles best at the Spanish Cortado Condensato, what's called a caffe bonbon in Madrid, if I remember well. First some sweet condensated milk, then the espresso and a layer of warm milk on top. Not my kind of cup, but very popular in this country.

The cappuccino is another drink to be avoided. The one we had at the Central hotel in Jimma (€ 0,35) tasted like the NescafĂ© cappuccino powder bags drinks my mother used in the past. Brrrr. Most of cappuccino's looked like a cheap 'airport cappuccino'. Not good.
But even worse was the only real 'airport cappuccino' Isabel ordered at the Addis airport. It was very early and the bar just opened. The two girls behind the bar looked to be totally lost and what they served was unbelievable. First they had a small pitcher with some pre made coffee. They steamed this one, poured a bit in a cup and added a lot of warm milk. We couldn't taste any coffee and told her. Then she warmed a bit more coffee and added this to the cup. What a crap and the highest price ever. Complaints didn't help, so we gave her the money and back the 'coffee'.
Afterwards we think, since they acted very strange and difficult, they did this to put the money of the drink in their own pocket. Who knows?

The regular cup of coffee is dark, strong, but not much of details and fruit is present. Biggest mistakes are the roast - too dark- and the fact they mostly use pre ground. The fact most machines are old and not too well maintained doesn't do a lot of good of course. Overal they where drinkable, but a bit of warm milk and sugar helped.

Also noticeable is the fact the local Barista has to stay aside of their machine. This Gondar (a historical city in the North of Ethiopia) Barista girl was standing there in a dark corner of the establishment. The place was very small, cheap and not crowded, but still she had to stand by the machine for the rest of the day, pulling one or two shots every 15 minutes. Weird. But this wasn't too bad for her. Some of her colleagues 'Barista's' had their machine in a small kitchen somewhere in the back, without any direct sunlight or clients around. Consolation for them can be found in the fact so many others do not have a job at all and live in deep poverty. Tough!

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