Columbus Coffee Guide: Where to find ethnic coffee

Staff Writer
Columbus Monthly
An Ethiopian coffee ceremony at Dire Dawa Cafe

It's never been easier to find a great cup of coffee in Columbus, and thankfully, this applies to interesting preparations from around the globe.

Ethiopian

As the first country to domesticate the coffee plant, nowhere receives more well-deserved respect for its place in the coffee universe than Ethiopia. And Ethiopian restaurants are increasingly expressing their pride in this by offering a coffee ceremony.

At Dire Dawa Cafe in Whitehall, the ceremony begins with a hostess seating the group (usually at least two people) around an ornate table with carved stools. She disappears and returns with a pan of green, unroasted coffee beans for you to inspect. These are whisked away, and shortly she returns with roasted and fragrant beans, wafting them so you can appreciate the aroma. Give her a thumbs up, and she'll head back to the kitchen to grind and brew the beans. The hostess returns with a black ceramic carafe (known as a jebena), assumes a central position at the table and pours the coffee. The first sip reveals a dark roast with deep cardamom undertones and a thick, almost syrupy body.

Addis Restaurant on Cleveland Avenue also offers a coffee ceremony weekly on Fridays.

Dire Dawa Cafe,4513 E. Main St., Whitehall, 614-237-3794; addis-restaurant.com

Vietnamese

Vietnamese coffees wear their French influence proudly-the roast is as dark as it gets, and the caramelized bean flavors are potent. They're most commonly consumed iced, in a preparation called ca phe da.

Ca phe da starts with coarsely ground beans, which are put into a small metal drip filter that sits atop a cup containing a dollop of sweetened condensed milk. Hot water is poured into the filter and slowly drips into the cup. Once brewing is complete, the milk and coffee are stirred and poured over ice. The considerable sweetness of the condensed milk balances the bitterness of the coffee while allowing the deep, roasted flavors to shine through. Ca phe da can be found in almost any Vietnamese restaurant in town, including Lan Viet in the North Market, Huong Vietnamese Restaurant, Red Velvet Cafe and Mi Li Cafe. 59 S. Spruce St., North Market, 614-227-4203, huongvr.blogspot.com, redvelvetcbus.com, milicafe.com

Turkish

Turkish coffee is as simple as the previous methods are complex-in essence, heat water (with sugar, if desired) in a tiny, long-handled pot (called a cezve) and add finely ground coffee beans. No filters are involved, and the bottom 10 percent or so of a properly poured serving will be a sediment of brewed grounds thick enough to stick to the bottom of the cup. The results, as seen at Cafe Shish Kebab, are coffees of near-espresso strength, but with less acidity and bitterness. shishkebabgrill.com