Saturday, July 4, 2020

Cafes of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

I am a huge coffee fanatic, so imagine my excitement when I got to travel to the land from where coffee originated! That’s right, the first coffee was discovered in Kafa, Ethiopia and has now grown into one of the biggest industries in the world. Ethiopia has a long culture of drinking coffee so I was excited to sample their modern cafes as well as traditional coffee ceremonies. 

The common beverage of choice in almost all cafes in the Ethiopian version of a machiatto. This is a shot of espresso with a dollop of frothed milk on it. A single or small size includes one shot, and a double or large size is two shots. I mad the mistake of ordered two shots only once - it was incredibly strong!  Here are the macchiatos from three cafes, many restaurants, and one hotel. 

Tomoca is the first cafe in Addis Ababa and now has branches all over the city. I visited one of their trendy branches near the airport in Bole, where people stand and drink their coffee while on break from work. 

I also visited the original Tomoca which is very historical and a big tourist attraction. Unfortunately of all the macchiatos I tasted in Addis, I liked Tomoca’s the least. It was very black and bitter to me. 

Kaldi’s is also a famous coffee chain in Ethiopia. Unlike Tomoca, which is meant to be drank quickly, people sit down at Kaldi’s for long break and have table service instead of ordering at the counter. I liked the outdoor seating at most Kaldi’s and their macchiato is pretty good. 

Abyssinian Cafe
By far my favorite macchiato in the city is at Abyssinian Cafe. This stylish cafe was practically empty when I went on a Sunday afternoon. It is hard to compete with its famous neighbor Tomoca, but I loved the vibe at Abyssinian Cafe and the coffee was exceptional. 

Golden Tulip Hotel
You don’t need to go to a cafe to get a macchiato. Every hotel and restaurant will be able to prepare one for you. I had a macchiato every day at the Golden Tulip and was pretty pleased with the quality. 

Finfinee Restaurant
Both Ethiopian and Western restaurants alike will serve macchiatos. This one from Ethiopian restaurant Finfinee is pretty typical. 

Traditional Coffee Ceremony
I also had the great honor of attending a traditional Ethiopian coffee ceremony. These are commonly prepared among friends or colleagues, and I was invited to one in the office of a local NGO in Addis Ababa. Popcorn is provided at most coffee ceremonies as a little something to eat before the coffee, since you never know if your guests have eaten or not before  they arrive for the ceremony. Its also good to offer some snack like popcorn because the ceremony can be very long. First you must wash the beans, then roast them, then grind them, then boil the grounds in water over charcoal. It might take one hour before you actually have your coffee. 

The ceremony is a good experience but the coffee itself is very strong and bitter. No wonder they always offer it with sugar!  

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Another dinner night

Another dinner reservations, another excuse to wear some old clothes and get out of the house. 

Blouse: Marc Jacobs
Dress: Target
Bag: Louis Vuitton
Shoes: via Goodwill

Sunday, June 14, 2020

Cafes of Chattanooga, Tennessee

I was in Chattanooga, TN four whole days for business and determined to see as many cafes as possible. I made it to 5 despite the torrential rain and having to walk everywhere - now that’s determination. 
Each cafe had a very different vibe but I will list them in order of my favorite. 

Camp House
The best latte I had in the city and its abundant seating in a warehouse-like space. 

Sleepyhead is definitely winning awards for the cutest cafes and best atmosphere. I also loved that it is located within an old office building and reminded me so much of my favorite cafe Penny in Minneapolis. Their coffee was not as good as Camp House in my opinion, so that is why they are #2. 

Mean Mug
The latte may not look good, but it sure tasted good. This hip place is also a popular spot for breakfast and brunch. 

A decent latte in a quirky artsy space. 


Goodman has a stunning location in downtown with a very lounge ambiance, but I liked their latte the least of all. I found the roast very bitter and hard to drink.  

Tuesday, June 9, 2020

Photo Diary: Days in Addis Ababa

Oh Addis, you are one strange place. I actually traveled to this city for work and was in the presence of a professional photographer the entire time. But I will not use any of his shots here - this Addis from my own amateur lens.

Sunday, May 31, 2020

3 Months Inside: The Coronavirus Edition

As soon as I realized the pandemic was here to stay - and that it would mean all my trips for 2020 would be cancelled - I knew I had to say something about it in this blog.
At first the quarantine reminded me all too much of a different quarantine - Zuo Yuezi – the month in confinement that I spent at home after my daughter was born. But unlike that first month of caring for a newborn, I now have rambunctious toddler and a business to run, so these months in confinement have been busier than ever for me.

Of course, like everyone else in the world I am concerned for the future of our societies, the looming unemployment, the death toll, the massive rippling effect this is having on people across the globe. But I’m not going to talk about any of that in this post. I’m not going to talk about my theories or projections – you have enough peoples’ theories and projections to read on the internet. This post is going to talk about how the pandemic has affected my life, what has changed in the last two month, and what it means.

This list was written on day 74 of lockdown. I began counting from the day the restaurants were closed and the shelter-in-place order took effect. When it began, I could not conceive how this could last more than 30 days. But here we are. Day 74 and we may only start to open back up in 13 more days. Maybe. 

What has changed since the Quarantine took effect?

Now I make cocktails at home: Lychee-rita mix from Nong's with Mezcal

I have worked from my home office for the last two years, so I am already used to that, but it has changed because now my husband is working from home too, and that adds distractions. Also, I am on so many video conference calls, more than ever, and so I have rearranged my office to better be able to take such calls in succession.
In the last two months my business has had to transform dramatically, and I am now doing things I did not envision doing only a few months ago. All this transformation had required a tremendous amount of energy in learning and creating new things. It is wonderful and exciting, and I am happy to have this opportunity to learn and create, but it is also exhausting.

My Good Coffee stash lasted only 2 months

I am drinking more coffee now than I ever have had to in my life. Maybe the stress of the pandemic and added workload have warranted deepening my caffeine addiction, but now I am drinking about 3 cups a day until as late as 4:00pm. The day before it was announced that restaurants would close (March 17th), I went to my favorite cafe Good Coffee and bought 6 bags of beans. I thought that would last me through the entire quarantine, but by mid-April I ordered 3 more bags online, and my late May the cafe reopened for takeout and I walked in and bought 3 more bags. I missed lattes terribly about one month into the pandemic, but since most cafes have reopened now for takeout, I can get all the lattes I want if I am willing to walk there and wear a mask.

Dalgona (whipped coffee and milk), yes I made it too

Again, the night before the shelter-in-place order was to go into effect, I rushed to the liquor store to stock up on booze. I knew I would not be able to go to the bar and drink cocktails, and that I would need the liquor to deal with the stress of the pandemic. It was crowded and the shelves were almost empty by the time I got there. I bought a bottle of Kalua, Campari, Mezcal, and two different kinds of gin. Based on my home-drinking patters of prior months and years, I assumed such a quantity of liquor would last me until 2021. Now, two months into the pandemic, my supply has been depleted by 70% and I have never drank so much from home in my life. This does not even include the 4 bottles of wine I have bought in grocery stores since the pandemic started.

All shopping is online now, except for groceries, which I hate to order online because they never have the specific products and brands I am looking for. I got to the grocery store once a week and hate it. I have to wear a mask (I used to wear gloves too but have since stopped that). The aisles are all one-way and its annoying to pay attention to the directions you are walking and to how close you happen to stand next to someone. There is hand sanitizer and wipes at every entrance so you can sanitize your hands and cart. By now all the staff wear masks and there are plexiglass barriers between customers and cashiers in the checkout.

Mt. Tabor, one of five places I go for my daily walks

I have gone on a walk, either to a park or around my neighborhood every single day, sometimes multiple walks a day. I have enjoyed exploring new areas of my neighborhood, news routes in Mt. Tabor and Laurelhurst park, and new places like Franklin high school’s track.

Food Delivery
I never used to have food delivered, even when I had a young infant at home and going out to a restaurant was impossible. Delivery seemed overpriced and exorbitant, but now it is a necessity. We have food delivered from our favorite restaurants 2-3 times per week. I love it now. I get all the joy of enjoying my favorite meals, discovering new ones, and none of the stress of finding a baby-sitter, getting dressed up, driving, parking, waiting at some table, etc. I think I will always have delivery now even when restaurants can reopen to customers.

I no longer experience the night. I am not out after dark. Everything is closed. The baby is asleep. There is no need to go out at night and nothing to do. But I miss that darkness.
Because my trip to Japan was cancelled this year (along with my trips to Ireland, DC, and Santa Fe), I am been spending many moments reflecting on past memories, most of which took place at night. The late dinners, bars, clubs, night walks, and night runs are all such a part of my Japan memories of the last 15 years. Now in Portland when the night comes, I am shut inside, experiencing the night only through memories.

Cafes of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

I am a huge coffee fanatic, so imagine my excitement when I got to travel to the land from where coffee originated! That’s right, the firs...