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In Praise of Coffee

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A cross-cultural coffee tour through Maryland, from an Ethiopian coffee roasting ceremony in Takoma Park, to the cafes of Greektown, to a gourmet coffee enterprise in Annapolis

  The Signal’s Aaron Henkin and Maryland Traditions folklorist Cliff Murphy are invited to a traditional Ethiopian coffee roasting ceremony at the Takoma Park home of Tebabu Assefa and Sara Mussie.  The husband and wife team are the founders of Blessed Coffee, a business based on the principle of ‘virtuous exchange.”

  Aaron and Cliff head to Greektown in East Baltimore’s Highlandtown neighborhood to visit two Greek coffeehouses:  HellasCafé and KarellasCafé.  They get an education in Greek coffee, backgammon, and pinochle, as well as the subtleties of the generation gap between first and second generation Greek immigrants and their different views on the neighborhood’s changing demographics.

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a visit to Greektown's Hellas Cafe and Karellas Cafe
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roasting, brewing, and cupping at Ceremony Coffee in Annapolis

Aaron and Cliff get a tour through the mechanical wonders of Ceremony Coffee Roasters in Annapolis, a company that outfits gourmet cafes with premium coffee, brewing equipment, and technical expertise.  Company founder Vince Iatesta and wholesale director Ronnie Haas explain the art and science of extracting the perfect flavor from the perfect bean.

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a tour through the facilities at Ceremony Coffee Roasters

Aaron creates and produces original radio programs for WYPR. His current project is the neighborhood documentary series, Out of the Blocks, which earned the 2018 national Edward R Murrow Award. His past work includes the long-running weekly cultural program, The Signal, and the Smithsonian Folkways Recordings series, Tapestry of the Times. Aaron's stories have aired nationally on NPR's Morning Edition, All Things Considered, PRI’s Studio 360, & The World.