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Buna Time Café - Ethiopian Coffee, Snacks, Weekend Brunch

Buna Time Café - Ethiopian Coffee, Snacks, Weekend Brunch
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  • Buna Time Café - Ethiopian Coffee, Snacks, Weekend Brunch

    Post #1 - January 3rd, 2018, 10:52 am
    Post #1 - January 3rd, 2018, 10:52 am Post #1 - January 3rd, 2018, 10:52 am
    Seeking a respite from the bitter cold, I stopped by Buna Time Café on Fullerton, near the corner with Ashland, yesterday and enjoyed a pot of single-origin Ethiopian highland coffee, served in the traditional fashion, buna be jebena. The owner, Selot, has crafted a menu of coffee drinks that feature Ethiopian coffee in various ways, from Cappuccinos to mochas, but, for me, the star of the show is the traditional coffee service, complete with freshly-popped popcorn on the side and a small charcoal brazier with fragrant Ethiopian frankincense.

    The coffee was strong and smooth, without a touch of bitterness, and it was a pleasure to sip in the clean, stylish little cafe while the outside world was being swallowed by the bitter Chicago winter. After coffee, I ordered a some food to tide me over until dinner. There is a small number of made-from-scratch menu items, some Ethiopian, some non-Ethiopian, as well as a selection of pastries. As of writing, this included Ethiopian-style eggs, kinche (an Ethiopian grain porridge), quiche, chechebsa (a dish of fried injera and niter kibbeh), foule (fava beans), and oatmeal.

    I elected to have the foule, to compare with the Egyptian/Levantine versions of the dish with which I am more familiar. The Ethiopian version seems basically the same as the Egyptian; simmered fava beans, topped with fresh vegetables, served with a side of bread. It was dense, satisfying stuff.

    I chatted with Selot about the cafe, and she told me that on weekends (both Saturday and Sunday), her mother comes in to roast the beans in-site for the full jebena buna experience; this means roasting the beans by hand in a pan, for guests to smell and appreciate, before grinding them and brewing the coffee. Her mother does so at three (or was it four?) different occasions over the course of the day, which sounds quite laborious. Weekends are also the occasion for the Ethiopian brunch, which is not done elsewhere in the city. I have to confess I do not really know what Ethiopian brunch food entails, but she explained that it is easier to get other sorts of foods from the various Ethiopian restaurants in town, but brunch is not something that is generally offered elsewhere.

    I plan to make a return trip to report on the weekend brunch, but I'd encourage anyone in the area to stop by for an alternative to one's routine coffee drinks.

    1552 W Fullerton Ave
    Chicago, IL 60614
    (773) 857-1855

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