I had my first outstanding cup of coffee when I was in Colombia on business. I ordered café con leche in the first café I went to; my cup and saucer were accompanied by a small jug of hot coffee and a larger one of hot milk. The coffee was the proverbial black tar, gorgeously aromatic, hot and strong. I went to that café and others many times. I have been hooked on café con leche ever since.

Some years later I was in Eastern Europe on a long-term project shortly after those countries escaped from the Soviet Union’s “workers’ paradise”. On my first morning, I went into a small café, got in line, ordered my coffee and, before I could say anything, had three huge, heaping teaspoons of sugar added by the server, who must have been an Olympic weightlifting champion in her youth. I conceded defeat, took my cup to a small, barstool-sized table and had my first sip. Seconds later heat from my stomach moved through my throat, up past my ears till it made my hair stand on end – the epitome of strong coffee.

In early 2019 I was staying at a small hotel in Addis Ababa. The dining room and kitchen were in a large room separated from each other with a counter. Prominent on the counter was the traditional Ethiopian coffee urn (jebena). After my first sip I knew I was in love. The coffee (buna) was strong and so aromatic, so smooth, it was like drinking black velvet. I also took part in the traditional Ethiopian coffee ceremony.

I made one mistake. Instead of bringing home two suitcases and a carry-on full of coffee, I brought three small bags. When covid hit, international travel stopped, and I ran out of Ethiopian coffee. Welcome to Just Ethiopian Coffees (www.justethiopiancoffees.com).

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