Jebena coffee Ethiopian style

Coffee preparation techniques besides espresso like pourover.

#1: Post by happycat » Feb 06, 2019, 1:52 pm

Brewing coffee Jebena-Style

Inspired by a chance visit to the Bu'na Ethiopian cafe in Toronto where they offer the Ethiopian coffee ceremony, and my followup reading of Where the Wild Coffee Grows (a book about the Ethiopian origins of coffee), I purchased a ceramic jebena (jebina, jabana) coffee maker to explore the original coffee-making process for myself.

Jebena benefits:
  • sweet and rich taste for medium and dark roasts
  • uses a beautiful ceramic piece, the original coffee-maker hand-built in Ethiopia
  • provides a way to feel superior to the other coffee know-it-alls
  • provides an opener to obnoxiously explain that "Arabica" was an ignorant mis-naming of coffee which actually came from Ethiopia
  • provides a retort to fans of cezves and moka pots — "Yeah, but it's no jebena!"
  • reminds your Keurig-guzzling parents to order a DNA test

Traditional preparation

Some restaurants offer the Ethiopian coffee ceremony. In Toronto, Bu'na is a modern cafe with an espresso machine, an EK43, and a couple of espresso grinders. However, they also have containers of green coffee under their glass counter and a gas range with a selection of ceramic jebenas. If you order the ceremony, they will roast coffee into second crack using a small sheet metal pan over the gas. Before grinding with an electric grinder, they will show the roasting beans so you can smell them. They brew the coffee in a jebena and serve it in small espresso-like cups called cini, accompanied by burning incense.

Making your own Jebena coffee

The jebena is an immersion coffee maker. You can certainly do a coffee ceremony— roast beans by hand in a pan, enjoy the sharp cracks of roasting beans, pass the smoking pan under the noses of your guests, and serve with incense and popcorn. I tried this a couple times with some Yemen Matari Mocha (which my wife preferred to the Quest-roasted and pourover and espresso brewed versions I served her previously). But you can also simply prepare jebena-style coffee.

Review some tips before starting:
  • the traditional jebena is round-bottomed— I bought a flat-bottom jebena for my electric range
  • to protect the glass top of the range, I use a folded square of aluminum foil under the jebena
  • dont use foil under jebena on glass top range, apparently it can melt onto it
  • to speed up the heating process, I pre-heated water in a Bonavita PID kettle
  • do not use the jebena's ceramic top until after preparation is complete (you need to see when steam escapes the neck of the jebena)
  • to make a jebena holder that allows for decanting grounds with the jebena tilted at an angle, I used an old tuna can
  • to filter the jebena's output, I used a Bonavita immersion dripper and paper filter

Determine your Jebena capacity:
  • 1. add water into jebena until it comes out of the spout
    2. pour water out of jebena until you estimate the level is below the spout
    3. pour the remaining water from the jebena into a measuring cup

    NOTE: my jebena has about 800ml capacity but using that much water results in coffee grounds pushed out the spout during heating— I settled on using 500ml
    NOTE: for 500ml with 45g of coffee grounds, my yield is 400ml of filtered coffee
Try making a Jebena coffee:
  • 1. measure filtered water for your batch (I used 500ml)
    2. measure coffee based on a ratio of coffee to water (I am using 1:11 or 45gm)
    3. heat filtered water in the jebena (or in a Bonavita PID kettle to about 92C and then add to the jebena)
    4. grind roasted beans to espresso grind (adjust grind for flavour)
    5. wait for steam to rise from the neck of the jebena (you don't want actual boiling)
    6. set funnel in jebena neck and add coffee grounds
    7. heat the jebena on med-high
    8. watch the neck closely and when steam comes out, remove from heat (you don't want boiling)
    9. set jebena on a holder
Try a sludgy traditional pour:
  • 1. Put the top on the jebena
    2. Set the jebena on the holder and let the grounds settle
    3. Decant carefully into cups
    4. Drink carefully - there will be sludge
Try a sludge-free filtered pour:
  • 1. use a dripper cone and paper or metal filter set on a carafe
    2. pour the jebena out completely into dripper cone including globs of sludge
    3. pour sludge-free coffee from the carafe
    4. discard the filter of grounds and have fewer grounds to wash out of the jebena down the sink
Clean your Jebena:
  • When the jebena is cold, wash out with cold water
Explore more:

Ethiopian-style coffee was previously discussed on HB here
Ethiopian Coffee Ceremony

Koehler's Book on the origins of coffee in Ethiopia (I read mine free from the library) ... 1632865092

William Ukers' classic coffee book— written in a less accessible style but free on Project Gutenberg ... 8500-h.htm
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#2: Post by Matt44 » Feb 07, 2019, 2:13 am

Very cool -- thanks for posting!


#3: Post by branson » Feb 22, 2019, 5:16 pm

I was in Africa not so long ago and we were served coffee in pour over coffee makers. I asked and was told that the Portuguese brought this style of brewing to Africa. Its still very popular there which is no surprise because the coffee was great. So good that when I got back I got one for myself here is the link for the one I got. ... ffee-maker


#4: Post by happycat » Mar 03, 2019, 9:18 pm

Followup... turns out way cheaper jebenas were available at a market (Kubulli) only a few blocks away from me on Parliament and Shuter. We have quite a representation of Ethiopian businesses here in Toronto. This fellow had jebenas for half the price, special heaters designed for the round bottomed jebenas, and sets of cinis (small cups).

I wanted a round bottom jebenas because there are some gorgeous ones... the heater I saw today would make it practical and protect a glass top range.

Wish I'd got a heater and jebena at this place. They have greens for sale, too.
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