Ethiopia is the original home of coffee, and the bean still grows wild in the forests of the west and south of the country. Now, if you could lay claim to coffee then you’d probably make a big deal of it, and quite rightly coffee in Ethiopia is a serious business.
When the good folk of Addis Ababa want a little pick-me-up they have numerous options. With time to spare they can head to a friend’s house for a traditional Ethiopian coffee ceremony, but as this can last two or three hours most people make their way instead to one of the hundreds of cafes that dot the city. Some of these are all old-world Ethiopia with goat skin seats and handicrafts on the wall, some are clearly modeling themselves on an American coffee chain, and then there’s one that stands out all alone.
TO.MO.CA is without doubt the most famous, and oldest, café in Addis. There’s nothing fancy about it. It’s merely a small off-yellow room with a huge wall mural of a roaring lion, a few bar stools, a little standing room and a giant coffee bean roaster and crusher, but if coffee quality and atmosphere count for anything, then it’s without peer in Ethiopia. This is a café where smartly turned out waiters hand tiny sips of espresso over to newspaper-reading locals with decades of loyalty and where the aroma of sweet roasting beans wafts around the block.
In short this place is an Addis institution in the same manner as a grand old Parisian café. Take note though that there are now a number of spin-off TO.MO.CAs elsewhere in Addis — but none come close to the original.
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