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“Buna Kurs”: Ethiopia’s coffee snack

Coffee is an essential component of Ethiopian culture and society. It’s a community thing and a conversation starter.

Being invited for coffee in Ethiopian culture is considered a symbol of friendship, respect and great hospitality. Preparing and drinking it – a whole ceremony.

Traditional cup of Ethiopian coffee served with aromatic incense, usually frankincense and myrrh. The incense is ignited by a hot coal to produce smoke that is said to carry away any bad spirits.Conversations start flowing freely as sweet incense dissipates in the room. 

Many Ethiopians prefer to drink their coffee black with a small spoon of sugar. Interestingly enough it can also be drunk with salt, milk or butter.

For today, We will see “Buna Kurs” as we commonly call it in Amharic. Similar to “Cafe gourmand” which is popular in France. 

When drinking coffee Guests are served popcorn, peanuts or traditional bread as a snack to accompany their coffee. The popcorn is sometimes tossed with a small amount of sugar.

A proper “Buna kurs” will have a mixture of textures, flavours and temperatures. That way you’ll never get bored, and the best thing is that they change from home to  home and region to region so you can further know and inspect a city (and its inhabitants) by their Buna Kurs. The other thing is that you will not know what will come on the plate (unless you ask). So it can be a bit of a surprise each time. Some will like that, others will not.

In the Northern region when drinking coffee guests are usually served ambasha. Himbasha | H’mbasha | Ambasha is an Ethiopian Flatbread, often made as a celebratory bread. It is a mildly sweet flatbread flavoured with cardamom, raisin and black sesame seeds.

The bread, apart from being celebratory, can be made for breakfast or afternoon tea and coffee. There are many variations of the flavourings used in the Himbasha. Some use black sesame seeds while some use raisins.

In Harerge region, popcorn and bread is a mandatory Buna Kurs. In jigjiga and somali areas sweets are frequently served for guests. Snacks like mushbek( a spiral shaped sweet), Kurebat( a biscuit) and other cultural sweets are served

Whenever you are invited to an Ethiopian household, They will go out of their way to make a guest happy. That is their way of showing their respect and love.