Beans mean Kaffa. Photograph: Eleonore de Bonneval
Street life: Kaffa Coffee on Gillett Square. Photograph: Eleonore de Bonneval

The original coffee drinkers hailed from the Ethiopian province of Kaffa.

According to legend, it was there in the ninth century that a goatherd experienced something of a Eureka moment when his goats started behaving excitedly after munching on some bright red berries.   

On his wife’s suggestion he took the berries to a monastery, where they were renounced as the devil’s work and thrown into the fire. The rich aroma of the beans filled the monastery, and led the monks to investigate further.

Fortunately, it is not necessary to travel quite so far to sample authentic Ethiopian coffee. Kaffa Coffee is located in Dalston. It uses beans grown on a plantation in the Kaffa province and roasted on site in Gillett Square.

Full of beans: Kaffa Coffee roasts its own beans on site. Photograph: Eleonore de Bonneval
Full of beans: Kaffa Coffee roasts its own beans on site. Photograph: Eleonore de Bonneval

The plantation and business are owned by Markos Yared, who founded Kaffa Coffee in 2004. The original Kaffa Coffee was a stall in Camden. Four years later, Yared moved into new premises.

His signature coffee isn’t cappuccino, latte nor macchiato but a black, strong, rich coffee served in a small espresso cup with an Ethiopian flag.

Signature style: Kaffa Coffee in Gillett's Square, December 18, 2014Photgraph: Eleonore de Bonneval
Strength in depth: Kaffa’s signature blend. Photograph: Eleonore de Bonneval

Kaffa is very much a family-owned business, and Yared’s wife Haile serves homemade injera and wat, typical Ethiopian cuisine, every Thursday and Friday.

A few outdoor tables are available to sit and chat and staying outside this laid back and unpretentious coffee place makes you feel local to the square.

With the shop open till late, Yared also enjoys sharing his taste for Ethiopian jazz, reggae and blues, turning Kaffa and Gillett Square into a very lively and vibrant place to be.

Kaffa Coffee serves probably one of the best Ethiopian coffees in town. Its coffee is strong, and so is its fan base.

Kaffa Coffee is at 1 Gillett Square N16 8AZ

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