A warm cup of welcome: how coffee can bring people together
The Ethiopian Coffee Ceremony provides a beautiful reminder of the importance of community and hospitality.
Written by Gideon Heugh | 01 Oct 2021
Traditional coffee roasting in Adama, Ethiopia. Credit: Will Boase/Tearfund
Care, love and support
Self-help groups bring together 15 to 20 people from some of the most vulnerable communities. Through learning new skills, discussing community issues and saving together to invest in small businesses, the group members are empowered to overcome poverty and flourish.
During the Coffee Ceremony, everything is done together, because these women know that together is where the power is. Roasting and grinding the beans, heating the water, brewing the coffee and then pouring the steaming, fragrant drink into the cups. It is all a ritualised act of community and hospitality.
‘Offering someone a cup of coffee is how we manifest the spirit of welcoming and love,’ says Nigatwa, a self-help group member in Adama, a large town in central Ethiopia. ‘We care, love, and support each other; it is the glue to our social life. When we sit for coffee, we feel rested and relaxed.’
Strangers and angels
This spirit of welcoming and love could not be more important. Especially these days, with the coronavirus pandemic causing so many people to feel the pain of isolation.
Part of an Ethiopian Coffee Ceremony. Credit: Will Boase/Tearfund
It is also evident throughout Jesus’ life. He was always being invited (or inviting himself) into strangers’ homes. One of his most famous parables, the Good Samaritan, has hospitality at its heart, with the stranger caring for the injured man’s needs.
A culture of welcome
With churches in the UK beginning to open their doors again, we can once again display this vital characteristic of Christian life.
There is nothing quite like being welcomed into a space with a beaming smile, warm words and an offer of something to eat or drink. In a world where so many have felt isolated – a world that can, at times, feel unwelcoming – churches can offer a love and acceptance that can truly change lives.
Women gather together in a self-help group in Adama, Ethiopia. Credit: Will Boase/Tearfund
And it doesn’t just need to be in church. It is currently harvest season – a time when we give thanks for what we have and consider what we can to share it with others. How can we all offer the gift of hospitality to others, now and in the future?
Pray with us
Gather together with a group of family, friends, colleagues, or fellow church-goers. If you’re not able to meet in person, this can also be done online.
At your gathering, make a hot drink together. Say a short prayer before you begin, thanking God for the good things you’ve been given.
Take your time making the drink, being present to each part of the process. Notice the sounds and the smells.
Once you have poured the drink into the cups, say a further blessing over them, praising God for the power of community, and asking for more the love and welcome of Christ to fill the church.
Written by Gideon Heugh
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