No, it is not a typo.
Starbacks Coffee is one of the best coffee houses in Mekelle, located in one of the older parts of town. It has both indoor and outdoor seating (outdoor is always popular) and the outdoor seating is a few small tables but lots of stools along the sides of the building.
Inside the decor is simple, but amusing. In some ways it reminds me of stepping into a 1950’s era diner in the Midwestern US with a sense of humor. The owners have liberally plastered their walls with amusing signs relating to coffee. For example …
Or perhaps this one….
Or perhaps this is more to your taste?
And, of course, you HAVE to have “the old standbys…”
According to legend, coffee was discovered in the highlands of Ethiopia by a goat-herder named Kaldi (ring any bells?). While tending his goats, Kaldi noticed that some of them were eating the little red berries off a bush. After they had eaten the berries, they were extraordinarily vigorous, excitable and alert, so Kaldi harvested some of the beans, took them to a local priest and together they started experimenting. Voila! The coffee industry was born!
But I don’t tell the story nearly as well as the explanatory sign in Starbacks does:
This also explains the large statue of a goat eating coffee beans that sits in the middle of Starbacks…
Unlike the coffee that you may purchase (at extraordinarily higher prices) at a similarly green-and-white-themed coffee bar in the US, coffee at Starbacks is FRESH. In fact, all coffee in Ethiopia is extraordinarily fresh. They take the green coffee beans, put them in metal pan, and roast them over a charcoal fire right in front of your eyes. The succulent smoke from the roasting pan pervades the entire establishment.
The coffee is then ground immediately and brewed in a specially designed coffee pot. Starbacks uses the coffee pots to add to their decor by knocking out the bottoms of old coffee pots and turning them into light fittings. It definitely adds to the charm of the place.
The coffee is poured from the brewing pot into a delicate little cup.
If you look a little more closely at an Ethiopian coffee pot, you will see the coffee “filter.” Traditionally this is a little plug of sweet grass put into the spout and it is an essential part of the coffee ceremony.
I rather got burned out on coffee while I was a medical student. Helen and I are generally tea-drinkers now. I find most coffee in the United States bitter and unappealing. But the coffee in Ethiopia is awesome! It is strong, smooth, powerful and sweet! Helen drinks it too! Apparently she likes her coffee like she likes her men! (Sorry, but I just couldn’t resist…)
Coffee is plentiful, fresh, delicious and cheap–usually less than 20 cents per cup–and that, too, is very different from the US.