Fried coffee, anyone?
(Bun Soomaali) I know what you are
thinking! It sounds weird, right? But let
me tell you the taste is incredible and
Somalis have some interesting stories
that we associate with the bean.
My beloved maternal grandparents
introduced me to fried coffee beans at the
tender age of five. This special dish was
offered during meditation sessions called
dhikr , an Islamic form of devotional
chanting in praise of God. Somehow to
this day, the smell of coffee brings to
mind the sonorous, repetitive and ancient
sounds of sacred chant, and I get
instantly transported to a state of mental
The d hikr group would sit on a mat and
the coffee would be served floating in oil
in a kurbin, a special wooden bowl. The
kurbin would be passed around and we
would start with a deep and appreciative
sniff of the wonderful aroma, and then
ladle a spoonful of the coffee onto the
palm, chew the beans, and then rub the
scented oil over our faces. This was part
of the ritual and was said to prepare the
person to face the world.
Sometimes sugar is added to the bun to
sweeten it. Bun is also often eaten with
popcorn or a simple dish of boiled azuki
beans known as cambuulo .
Coffee beans are called bun in the Somali
language, and buna in Oromo
and bunna in Amharic, the two other
main languages of Ethiopia, the home of
Somalis also associate bun with rites and
spirit possession practices that hint at the
ancient beliefs of Somalis. Ceremonies are
held by a ritual expert, calanqad . Dancing,
drumming, bun and the burning of
incense are used to enhance the senses of
participants. The spirit descends on the
host under various names, sometimes
speaking in different languages. Men and
women participate in a ceremony called
mingis , but women have their own
ceremony called saar . If the spirit is
vexatious, an exorcism is conducted by
the calanqad . Not all spirits are cast out.
Some become friends of the possessed
person and are sometimes inherited by
Fried coffee beans also play a central role
in ceremonies women hold to pray for the
safe delivery of a pregnant friend. The oil
used to fry the coffee beans is applied
liberally on the head and hair of the
pregnant woman as the women pray and
sing for their friend.
The Oromo people of Ethiopia, a Cushitic
tribe like the Somali, also have a fried
coffee ceremony. The outer skin is
snipped off the coffee beans and words of
blessings are uttered in a ritual known as
buna-chiru , which signifies sacrifice to
honour a guest or for a ceremony.
Don’t forget to moisturise your face with
some of the coffee flavoured oil!
If you’ve read this far then you should
keep in touch! With BASHIR HASHI YUSSUF TADHASE TELL 0018014253194
Fried coffee, anyone?