Denver resident native Ethiopian Sara Gebre has signed on with Comal to offer Ethiopian coffee and the food that goes with it every Thursday from 2:30 to 5 p.m. 

By Mark Antonation (Westword) |

DENVER, Colo.―Thanks to Comal Heritage Food Incubator, we now have one more culinary word in our lexicon: jebena. The lunchtime restaurant at 3455 Ringsby Court, Denver, CO in the Taxi development is named for the large, flat cooking surface used to cook tortillas and other Mexican fare. But starting Thursday, December 14, it will also begin displaying a jebena — a round-bottomed clay coffee pot used in traditional Ethiopian coffee ceremonies.

Sara Gebre, a native of Ethiopia who now lives in west Denver, has signed on with Comal to offer Ethiopian coffee and the food that goes with it every Thursday from 2:30 to 5 p.m. The ceremony involves much more than pouring coffee for guests. Sara roasts and grinds coffee beans for each service and pours the rich brew from the jebena alongside such snacks as sugared popcorn and toasted barley with peanuts. She says she soon plans to add more dishes, including injera (the ubiquitous sourdough flatbread of her home country), lentil and split-pea stews and other vegetable-based fare.

“The coffee goes with the food; it’s part of our culture,” she says, explaining that food and coffee together are a celebration of family and community. Important matters are discussed over the ceremony, which traditionally involves three rounds — called abol, tona and bereka — of adding hot water to the same grounds, so that the first pot is strongest and the last the weakest. The ceremony shows respect for both the coffee and the guests being served, Sara Gebre notes.

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