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TO.MO.CA Cafe in Addis Ababa claims to serve the best coffee in the city, in fact possibly one of the finest in the whole of Ethiopia. It's a big claim in a country where coffee was discovered and the art of coffee making perfected. So does this tiny little cafe on the Wavel street lives up to its name and claim?
Early this year a bunch of Coffee Experts got together to decide the where do you get the best coffee in the world. Not surprisingly the answer was Ethiopia! Read more here. However, being the home of Coffee, Ethiopia needs no introduction on the coffee scene of the world.
There is a very interesting legend around how coffee was discovered in Ethiopia thousands of years ago. Kaldi, the shepherd or goatherd, was out in the mountains when he saw the goats munching on some green leaves which were different from the usual. The ones who munched on these new leaves were much happier and active through the day. Curiosity got the best of him and he too decided to munch on these berries. After this he was so excited through the night that he barely slept.
Kaldi told his tale to the a monk at the local monastery and the monk tried it himself before recommending it to the rest of the gang. He found it to be an exceptional tool to keep him alert and awake as he prayed till late. The fame of coffee spread next to Yemen and from there to the Arabian peninsula and then to Turkey. Turkey was at the cusp of Asia and Europe and the traders from Istanbul carried coffee and its fabled tables through Europe. Not to be left behind, the New World also quickly fell in love with coffee.
Coming back to Ethiopia, the country of coffee’s origin, the traditions of coffee have survived quite intact in the preceding centuries. However, some changes and influences have come in the way coffee is consumed there as well. The earliest form of coffee consumption was by boiling its leaves and drinking the concoction, but now it’s the coffee beans. Interestingly, it was in Turkey that the coffee beans were first roasted and then ground.
As I am always do, I decided to explore the best coffee in Addis Ababa when I visited the city recently. After spending many days traveling solo in Rwanda, I was ready to go back to India and but still took a small detour to Ethiopia. My hunt for coffee started right in the morning and got over late in the afternoon when I discovered this tiny little coffee place which unarguably serves the best coffee in the city.
I often do a little bit of research about a place before I go there, but Addis was different. I had very little internet connectivity in Rwanda earlier and so did absolutely no research about the city. However, as soon as I had net connectivity I decided to look up on the web and only one name came up when I searched for ‘The Best Coffee in Addis Ababa’. And so started my search for this mythical coffee place. I started my day with coffee at a very local coffee place on the streets and then spent the next few hours visiting some of the historical churches of the city. It was quite exciting and I discovered quite a bit of history here, but that’s a topic for another post.
But once I was done with St George's Church, I actually started actively asking around for the cafe and someone told me that I could actually walk to the cafe from where I was. And this is when my search started for TO.MO.CA cafe! As I walked in hot sun for the next one hour, I was was exhausted and skipped some of the very interesting looking cafes on the way. I also had a rather odd conversation with an old man who then decided to walk behind me for about fifteen minutes. And if I ever looked at him, he gave me directions again.
Just when I was ready to give up on my search, I was suddenly outside TO.MO.CA!
Happily I walked in this really crowded place, full of buzzing crowd - a mix of young and the old. Before I ordered a coffee for myself, I decided to buy some for myself and friends back home. A pleasant surprise awaited me when I was offered a complimentary coffee as I bought coffee packets! However, language was a barrier and the coffee I got was pure black and really strong. I tried asking the old man at the counter for some milk, but he didn’t understand a thing!
Disappointed I decided to drink coffee just as an Ethiopian would and joined a bunch of young guys. Curiosity got the better of them and they asked me where was I from, and when I told them India they were both surprised as well as happy. They knew many Indians but knew none who walked around alone in the middle of the day with their backpacks. Also with them I learnt a little bit more about the coffee culture of the city, and how these three were just here for coffee after lunch. They were childhood friends and now each one of them had their own business and usually met for coffee and catching up on each other’s lives. As we talked more, I ordered another cup of coffee and enjoyed it even more than the last one. I had one important question to ask them before I called it a day - Where do you get the best coffee in Addis Ababa? Their reply was quick and unanimous - TO.MO.CA!
Established over sixty years ago, TO.MO.CA is now a leading coffee roaster in Ethiopia and also exports to many overseas markets. With this TO.MO.CA is also able to live up to its essence of stretching the bliss of coffee everywhere from its birthplace, Ethiopia.
TO.MO.CA has three man roasting type blends:
Bar Type: Dark Roast - Strong sharp on the tongue, great for espresso
Famiglia Type: Dark brown - Medium smoother taste, great for regular and filter coffee
Light Brown: Light, very smooth; used for special brewing
In my search for this cafe, I actually had coffee thrice during the day and enjoyed it everywhere. I certainly liked the coffee at TO.MO.CA the most and was happy when the locals said the same. I am sure there would be many more hidden cafes with some amazing coffee, but I had to postpone their discovery to another trip :)