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February 22, 2020

West Philly siblings want to open Ethiopian coffee shop in neighborhood

They want to make a place for enjoying coffee made in the traditional, communal ceremony

Three siblings want to open a Ethiopian coffee shop in West Philadelphia to bring the unique experience of a coffee ceremony to the neighborhood known for its Eritrean and Ethopian community.

The family presented their proposal in a meeting with the Spruce Hill Committee Zoning Association this month, reported West Philly Local. If approved, the coffee shop would be located at the southwest corner of 42nd and Baltimore, inside a now-vacant storefront at 500 S. 42nd Street.

Tigist Hailu and her two brothers who want to open the shop are from an Ethiopian family, and said they want to showcase their heritage. 

“One thing we feel is really missing in the neighborhood is the Ethiopian coffee ceremony," Hailu told West Philly Local. 

An Ethiopian coffee ceremony is a unique way of brewing and sharing coffee that starts by roasting green coffee beans, then grinding them with a mortar and pestle. Next the grounds are added to a long-necked container called a jebena, filled with boiling water, and then strained several times. 

The coffee sharing ceremony is performative and sharing, starting with a skilled pourer, usually a woman, pouring coffee from a height of one foot into several small cups in an endless stream where the goal is not to spill a drop. Friends, family, and relatives then drink coffee together in the ceremony which is considered a daily ritual for some in Ethiopia. 

Almaz Cafe in Rittenhouse serves traditional coffee in its Ethiopian restaurant, but a shop dedicated to the ceremony would be the first of its kind in West Philly.

In April, their proposal will go to the Zoning Board of Adjustment for potential approval. 

The coffee shop would join the company of many celebrated Ethiopian restaurants nearby in the neighborhood and on Baltimore Ave. such as Abyssinia, Dahlak, Gojijo, Kaffa Crossing, and more.

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