(VOAnews.com) The dozens of guests gathered in Marian Kumar’s generously-sized kitchen strain to see the woman in traditional dress sitting on a low stool. A tray with handleless ceramic coffee cups and a portable, single-burner charcoal stove are in front of her. The simple set-up is at odds with the elegant surroundings – gleaming granite countertops and high-end appliances.
Anyalem Barayes is conducting a traditional Eritrean coffee service. She begins by burning incense to ward off evil spirits. Then she roasts coffee beans in a small pan on the charcoal stove.
When that is done, Barayes pushes to her feet and walks around the room with the beans so her audience can inhale their rich scent. Afterwards, she grinds them and proceeds to make the coffee everyone is waiting to taste.
Barayes’ niece, Abeba Telahun, stands nearby, explaining each step to the rapt audience.
“It’s always a pride when you share your culture,” Telahun says afterwards. “It’s always nice when you are sharing your culture and people are aware of it. It’s a great pleasure to share it with the group.”
The group sharing this experience is called THIS for Diplomats – once known as The Hospitality and Information Service. The nonprofit volunteer organization helps families of foreign diplomats adapt to life in the United States.