Visit Ethiopia—Literally Or Figuratively

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I was excited when our friend and Barista Magazine contributor and copy editor Erin Meister introduced me to Sam Saverance recently because Sam is up to some really incredible coffee things. He’s bringing Ethiopia to Bushwick, believe it or not.

Sam’s partner, Liyuw is Ethiopian, and because of their love for both coffee and Ethiopian culture and history, they began Bunna Cafe, an Ethiopian pop-up restaurant that features vegan Ethiopian cuisine and coffee as a solid player in the theater of a meal, two years ago. Bunna means coffee in Ethiopian, by the way.

While Bunna Cafe is known for its exceptional vegan Ethiopian cuisine, coffee plays a large role in the meal, with coffee roasted and brewed in the tradition of the ancient Ethiopian coffee ceremony.

While Bunna Cafe is known for its exceptional vegan Ethiopian cuisine, coffee plays a large role in the meal, with coffee roasted and brewed in the tradition of the ancient Ethiopian coffee ceremony.

The project has been incredibly successful and popular—Bunna has popped up in dozens of places, Sam tells me. But now Bunna has gitten permanent digs: a real restaurant/bar/coffeehouse space in Bushwick, Brooklyn.

If you’ve been to Ethiopia, you know what a large part the traditional Ethiopian coffee ceremony plays in most meals. When Ken and I were in Ethiopia last year, we grew attached to the custom of relaxing before dinner as coffee was slowly roasted in a pan over fire, then carefully brewed and served. Sam understands the weighty nature of the ritual—it’s why he and Liyuw are putting so much focus on coffee as part of Bunna as a restaurant.

Bunna Cafe has operated as a pop-up for 2 years and gained a strong following in New York. Now, it's got a brick and mortar space in Bushwick, Brooklyn.

Bunna Cafe has operated as a pop-up for 2 years and gained a strong following in New York. Now, it’s got a brick and mortar space in Bushwick, Brooklyn.

“Our purpose is to show how the coffee beans play an important part in the aesthetics of Ethiopian dining and culture,” Sam told me. “Beyond the fantastic beverage it creates.”

Sam told me about how in order to fund the restaurant buildout, he and Liyuw are actively raising funds through Indiegogo. “One of our major projects is to host a coffee retreat later this year, where we bring a few guests to a coffee farm in Ethiopia so that they may experience the daily life surrounding the bean, and so they can understand how it is processed from the source,” he explained. “Liyuw has a long history in the tourist industry there so we are well on our way to making this happen. The two top contributing tiers in our Indiegogo campaign ($6k and $10k) will reserve 1 or 2 expense-paid tickets, respectively, on this excursion.

To raise money for the restaurant's build out, Sam and Liyuw are offering an incredible opportunity: they will take 8 to 10 people on a trip to Ethiopia to explore coffee farms and native villages.

To raise money for the restaurant’s build out, Sam and Liyuw are offering an incredible opportunity: they will take 8 to 10 people on a trip to Ethiopia to explore coffee farms and native villages.

“For this first retreat, we will most likely limit it to 8-10 guests. It will be a week or two long. We’ll start in Addis Ababa for a day or so and then travel to a coffee farm and spend a few days spending time with the villagers and learning about the whole process of farming and harvesting the beans. We have a few locations in mind, including some in the Kelenso region. That will be solidified in the next couple months.

For the price of $6,000 for one person, or $10,000 for two people, you can join Sam and Liyuw in Ethiopia to explore the country's culture and coffee traditions. The money goes to the buildout of Bunna Cafe in Brooklyn.

For the price of $6,000 for one person, or $10,000 for two people, you can join Sam and Liyuw in Ethiopia to explore the country’s culture and coffee traditions. The money goes to the buildout of Bunna Cafe in Brooklyn.

“We are shooting for a departure in November or early December. Anyone interested can get in touch with us and we will go over the plan in more detail with them before they commit. We are targeting people/companies that are deep into the coffee world, and are also into ecotourism. This retreat will be about experiences—in other words, we will take care of you and make sure you are fed well and nicely accommodated, but we want travelers to experience the thrill of living among the people, so no five star hotel or safari excursions.”
Want to learn more about it? Email Sam at info@bunnaethiopia.net
Bunna Cafe is located at 1084 Flushing Ave., Brooklyn, New York

About the Author

Sarah

Sarah Allen is co-founder and editor of Barista Magazine, the international trade magazine for coffee professionals. A passionate advocate for baristas, quality, and the coffee community, Sarah has traveled widely to research stories, interact with readers, and present on a variety of topics affecting specialty coffee. She also loves animals, swimming, ice cream, and living in Portland, Oregon.