Navigating Coffee Culture An Expats Guide to Eritrea

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Welcome expatriates to the vibrant coffee scene in Eritrea, where coffee holds a significant place in daily life and social interactions. Coffee is more than just a beverage here; it's a sacred commodity that transcends borders and fosters connections among people. Whether you're a seasoned coffee connoisseur or a novice, this guide aims to provide useful insights and tips for navigating Eritrea's coffee culture, highlighting local coffee traditions and customs.

Understanding Coffee Origins and Production

Eritrea's coffee culture is deep-rooted, dating back centuries. The country boasts several coffee-growing regions, including Gash Barka, Debubawi, and Northern Red Sea, that contribute significantly to the coffee production in Eritrea. Coffee lovers can explore these regions to experience firsthand the coffee-growing process and learn about the significance of locally grown coffee beans versus imported varieties.

Eritrea's coffee beans are Garchy and Bourbon varieties, renowned for their unique taste and aroma. These beans are handpicked and processed using traditional methods that have been handed down through generations. They are then roasted and brewed in small batches to preserve their flavors, resulting in smooth, rich coffee that's a must-try for any coffee enthusiast.

Embracing Favorite Coffee Style Drinks

Eritrea's coffee culture is diverse, with a wide range of coffee style drinks that cater to every taste and preference. For coffee purists, traditional brews like Fasika and Khatmi are ideal choices. They are prepared using traditional methods like ARAGE, which involves roasting coffee over an open fire, and BUNNERS, which involves slow-burning of the coffee seeds.

On the other hand, specialty blends like Turkish and Arabic coffee are favored by many expats. These beverages are unique to the region and offer a distinct flavor profile. Some popular specialty blends include Akarkal, a stronger Arabic coffee, and Bedreti, a sweeter coffee infused with cardamom spices.

Embracing Coffee Drinking Customs and Traditions

Coffee is an integral part of Eritrean daily life and social traditions. It is customary for Eritreans to offer coffee to their guests as a sign of hospitality and respect. This tradition is known as Tsebhi, and embedded in it is the expectation that both parties converse meaningfully as they savor the coffee's rich flavors.

Another essential element of Eritrea's coffee culture is the coffee ceremony, which is a traditional ritual that involves preparing coffee using traditional methods. It is an elaborate process that can last several hours and involves multiple rounds of coffee-making, each round offering a distinct flavor profile.

Exploring Coffee Shops and Cafes

There is no shortage of coffee shops and cafes in Eritrea that cater to diverse tastes and preferences. Whether you prefer traditional brews, specialty blends, or aromatic coffee, you're sure to find a coffee shop that meets your needs. Quaffers, a coffee shop in Asmara, is a popular choice among expats, offering a wide range of coffee styles and blends.

Another noteworthy coffee shop is Terrazzo, located in the heart of Asmara. This chic cafe offers a unique coffee culture experience, combining traditional Eritrean coffee with innovative coffee styles like cappuccino and latte. Terrazzo is a great place to meet and connect with fellow coffee enthusiasts and immerse yourself in Eritrea's coffee culture.

Connecting with Local Communities

One of the best ways to immerse yourself in Eritrea's coffee culture is by connecting with local communities. Attending coffee festivals and events is an excellent way to learn about traditional Eritrean coffee rituals and customs while interacting with the people. In addition, volunteering at coffee co-operations in the countryside exposes you to the coffee-growing process and allows you to give back to the community while learning plenty about the coffee culture.

Lastly, taking coffee-tasting courses offered by local coffee farms can help you appreciate and differentiate between the various coffee styles and blends, preparing you for an immersive coffee culture experience.


In conclusion, Eritrea's coffee culture is one that is deeply ingrained in daily life and social traditions. The country's diverse coffee style drinks, traditional rituals, and customs offer an immersive experience that's hard to find elsewhere. Eritrea's coffee scene welcomes everyone, from novices to seasoned coffee experts, and invites them to connect with the people, learn more about the coffee culture, and share their experiences. We encourage you to embrace the vibrant coffee culture in Eritrea and immerse yourself in the rich tapestry of coffee heritage.