“I came to the UK as a refugee from Eritrea. I could take little with me, but I brought my clay jebena. We use it to make coffee. Coffee is part of us. Even if we leave it behind, it follows us.
In Eritrea coffee is not just for drinking; it is a way of talking. Women gather together to drink coffee. You bring the gossip of the day, jokes, how much a kilo of tomatoes costs, but mostly it’s about husbands and wives. If you are unhappy with your husband, another woman has the same thing. So it’s just letting go. Like therapy. Or an opera! As kids, we would be so excited by the smell coming from neighbours’ houses and gardens. But now, looking back, I know the real meaning. It was a way of surviving.
Now I drink coffee once a week with my friend from Eritrea. We roast fresh beans, grind fresh ginger. Everything in my culture is natural; I miss that. Saturday is our day; we sit, laugh, talk, cry.”