CAFÉ-NATION

The coffee aroma, the scent of roasted beans entices even the farthest passerby. The small coffee place, Tomoca Coffee House; located around piazza has been attracting pedestrians for more than 60 years.

Different types of roasted, ground coffee types are piled alongside Ethiopian coffee ceremony pictures. This place is about coffee and only coffee.  The t-shirts, the pictures, and the barista are all reminders for people to have coffee.

Inside it is very difficult not to notice a hanging quote on a yellow placard on the ceiling which declares, “When you drink a cup of coffee ideas come in marching like an army.” The quote on the placard is from the French novelist and playwright Honoré de Balzac. Customers get the small plastic chip and walk to the barista to order the type of coffee they want, whether it be strong or weak, with or without milk. There are only a few stools in one of the corners and people sip their coffee while standing or reading their newspaper.

Living in the birthplace of coffee, it is nearly impossible to ignore the presence and prevalence of it all around us, from the coffee ceremonies at so many people’s house to the ridiculous amount of coffee shops in the country.

From a very small thermos of coffee on the street to a small café all the way to fancy cafés, Addis caters to everyone.

It is not only coffee and tea that is served but places such as Bilo’s serve a myriad of other things including ice cream, Kaldis with its Frappuccino and Bole Mini with its famous milkshakes are also part of the café scene in Addis.

In the mornings most of the taxi stands are crowded with customers, taxi drivers and woyalas in a huge rush. But the ones that aren’t rushing are often seen sitting on a rock drinking a cup of tea or coffee they paid two birr for.

Around Arat Kilo one girl who covers her face serves coffee in a humiliating state of mind. She uses plastic containers to wash the cups. She washes in a rush only making sure that the tea and coffee is gone. Around her is a blue thermos, small glasses, plastic plates and it seems her café is in her container. Some are sitting on the rocks not bothered while the others stand around finishing up their coffee and tea until the taxi gets full and they feel warmth and leave.

At this place no one asks for sweetener or cream, the sugar is inside and it already dissolved. There is no ritual in this, only a rush, but not for those who do go to cafés for the conversation, the macchiato, the cake, and the relaxation.

City dwellers go to cafés like they do to places of worship; at least once a day or during the weekend they have to be there. Spending more than five hours in a café is a norm for some.

Working as a freelance consultant, Selam Tadesse, 29, has free time on her hands and also busy during some occasions. Since she freelances she uses places such as Fusion Bistro as her office.

Located around Edna Mall, she says they have internet connection better than most other cafés. In the past she used to go to Lime Tree around the Bole area but the internet kept fluctuating so she shifted to this place.

When she gets tired of this place she also goes to places like I-Coffee around Bole Medhanialem. Sometimes she spends more than six hours there when she has work. Her friends also come to this place so it is an office and also a hang out spot for her. For those people who do not have formal offices and who have free time on their hands, she says it is the place to be.

Like many people whenever she has an appointment she prefers cafés to meet up since macchiato in hotels are expensive. “I do not still feel comfortable when I go to hotels,” Selam says.

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