In the United States, coffee is often regarded as a liquid energy source, a drink to be swigged from a to-go cup for a daily (if not hourly) caffeine boost. But at Comal Heritage Food Incubator in RiNo, you can learn to slow down, sip, and savor the ancient beverage by partaking in an authentic Ethiopian coffee ceremony.
Focus Points Family Resource Center, a nonprofit community organization serving low-income families in the Globeville and Elyria Swansea neighborhoods, founded Comal in October 2016 with the goal of providing job training for female immigrants. It has since blossomed to encompass weekday lunch service featuring the cuisines of Latin American and Syria, cooking classes, and, as of last month, weekly coffee gatherings.
The ceremonies are the brainchild of Ethiopian-born Sara Gebre, who has lived with her family in west Denver for 13 years. Gebre had always dreamt of opening her own coffee shop where she can showcase the Ethiopian coffee experience: fire-roasting African green coffee beans, grinding them to a fine powder, brewing the beverage in a “jebena” (a traditional Ethiopian clay coffee pot), and serving small cups of the strong, rich java to lingering visitors.
At Comal, Gebre has found the perfect platform to practice her craft and service before she embarks on opening her own shop. Gebre will be roasting Ethiopian beans on site and serving the resulting smoky, nutty brew on Thursdays from 2:30 to 5 p.m. For four dollars, you’ll receive a six-ounce serving of coffee as well as a medley of sweet and savory snacks, including peanuts, sugared popcorn, roasted barley, and Gebre’s own peanut butter cookies made with teff (an Ethiopian grain traditionally used to make injera bread). This is not a grab-and-go coffee situation. Instead, bring friends or loved ones and take the time to catch up while you enjoy the Ethiopian tradition of coffee, snacks, and conversation.
The Ethiopian Coffee Ceremony takes place every Thursday from 2:30 to 5 p.m. at Comal Heritage Food Incubator, 3455 Ringsby Court, #105, 303-292-0770