Any coffee enthusiast would find their plane ticket worthwhile upon landing in Addis and walking around town a half-day, visiting some of the local cafes. With names like Sunbird, Red Bean, Kaldi’s, Denver, La Parisienne, Skylite, First Cup and Canada Sol (a few in the Bole area), you’d be in buna heaven with the smells wafting on the air inside.
I’m not much of a coffee drinker, though this time around I’ve decided to give it a more thorough go on the coffee drinking front. The other afternoon I had a cappuccino at Skylite, and found it easy to drink–ease my way into it with some sweetness.
This morning I had a berbere latte. Berbere is a smoky pepper spice used in cooking traditional foods, most notably doro wat and tibs. The former is delightful chicken stew and the latter is chunks of either goat, lamb or beef with onions. The berbere gives the dishes their distinct Ethiopian flare.
I now understand why coffee can be so addicting; the complexity of the flavor and the buzz combine to make taking a few minutes to appreciate it a meditation of sorts. The latte this morning was a shot of very strong espresso, steamed milk, and berbere sprinkled on top. I swirled the pepper spice into the latte. It was deep in flavor, and heavy, or thick maybe, in texture. The spice made the rain extra nice. It would be good in hot chocolate too.
Sipped it a bit, and then I gulped it down while waiting for my veggie pizzas from Pizza Deli Roma, another Italian feature of life in Addis–pizza.
Ethiopians and many Africans show great pride in the fact that Ethiopia is the only African country to never have been colonized. Mussolini was not able to impose a government here. A remnant of that time is the flourishing coffee cafes and pizza shops around the city.
The pizzas arrived a minute or two after I finished the latte. I then started walking back home–a 10 minute walk by the Ring Road near the airport–and within a few hundred steps I felt the caffeine kick in.
I stopped by a roadside liquor shack and bought a bottle of local Gouder wine for this evening, and finished my walk home. I opened the gate and went inside, announcing to my wife “berbere latte is my new friend!”