May I invite you for shy bunna? Shy bunna is a big deal in Ethiopia. Shy means tea and bunna means coffee and together they mean break time. Pretty much every worker in Ethiopia gets to take at least two tea breaks in the day, one in the morning and one if the afternoon. These breaks are so common, and shy is so widely consumed, that the most common business in Abi Adi, just like most towns in Ethiopia, is the café. There are probably around a hundred cafes in Abi Adi: too many to count, too many to name, and too many to visit. Well that’s what you think…
Thor and I have joked about the idea of a café crawl for a few months now. It’s like a pub crawl, one drink at each establishment, until we drop. Without the alcohol of a traditional pub crawl, we knew we would last a while, but really had no idea how long. The most shy either of us had consumed before this was a few cups over the course of the day so this was unprecedented.
Thor, a lover of sports statistics, proposed keeping a few vital stats throughout the day. We tracked arrival time, service time (duration), invitations, quality, entertainment, vibe, number of posters on the wall and the first person to finish their shy. A few of these need explanation. When drinking tea, it’s common to invite others to join in. We tracked the number of invites given and the number of people who actually accepted. It’s also common for cafes to have either a TV or a stereo, or both, hence the entertainment category. It’s also extremely common to have a bunch of tacky posters on the wall so we decided to see which place had the most posters on display. The “vibe” category is a subjective ranking designed to account for the whole experience. Was the waitress nice? Were the posters particularly good (like vintage Britney Spears)? Were there seats? One place we visited didn’t even have seats, just cinder blocks covered with cardboard and plastic bags.
Gebrekidan, Thor, and I started the crawl at 10AM and visited a total of 22 different cafes over the next 8 hours. We stopped half way through for lunch. Surprisingly we were still able, and willing, to drink more tea up until the end. In fact the only reason we ended when we did was for dinner. Also surprising, we were able to continue to taste the tea and rate the quality throughout. Our taste buds did not get burned off or overwhelmed by the 2 tablespoons worth of sugar in each cup.
Anyway it was a nice way to spend the day socializing with the town, exploring new cafes, and meeting new people. Plus now that the English Premiere League season is done, what else are you going to do on a random Sunday in Abi Adi?
Here are some summary statistics:
Total shy consumed: 88 ounces or about 2/3’s of a gallon.
Total cafes visited: 22
Time spent crawling: 8 hours (minus a lunch break of about 1 and a half hours)
Fastest serve time: 1 minute 53 seconds (also some of the worst tasting tea)
Slowest serve time: 12 minutes 35 seconds
Most posters on the wall: 15 (in a really small room too. It was crazy!)
Invitations accepted: 4 for 23 or about 17% success rate
First person to finish their tea: Thor – 7, Gebrekidan – 7, Forrest – 8
Best ranked place overall: Selam’s little one room spot near my house. I’ll take you there sometime. It’s worth it!