For the last two and a half years, Bunna Cafe has operated as a pop-up restaurant, bringing vegan Ethiopian food, music, and a modern take on the traditional Ethiopian coffee experience to dozens of locations throughout North Brooklyn. Bunna are now working on opening their first permanent location, at 1084 Flushing Avenue in Bushwick, and they’ve launched a $15,000 IndieGoGo campaign to help fund some necessary renovations.
Bunna (Amharic for coffee) was founded by Sam Saverance and his partner Liyuw Ayalew as a way to bring their shared love of Ethiopian food and culture to the masses. They decided to focus on the tradition of vegan food in Ethiopia. According to them, this tradition springs from “the Ethiopian Orthodox church [requiring] three months of fasting during the year, and during that time all adherents abstain from meat products.” Their roving pop-up experience has proved quite successful, especially their Habesha Nights underground dinner series last summer. Other events, their stay at Little Skip’s cafe in Bushwick, have been especially popular.
Saverance and Ayalew say that they use “the Ethiopian coffee ceremony as the anchor of our event. Our purpose is to show how the coffee bean plays an important part in the aesthetics of Ethiopian dining and culture — beyond the fantastic beverage it creates.” Putting the coffee front and center sounds like a big goal of their permanent space: they will be building a thatched stage for coffee ceremonies and musical guests. The cafe will be serving coffee all day, as well as using it as an infusion for deserts and cocktails. They’ll also have a selection of tej (honey wine) and other traditional Ethiopian beverages.
Bunna Cafe will be serving Ethiopian coffee from Yirgacheffe, Harar, and Sidamo, the country’s three most well-known growing regions, some of which they’ll be sourcing through The Bushwick Seed Company. They want to work on developing relationships with farmers back in Ethiopia, and plan to host a “coffee retreat” later this year where they will “bring a few guests to a coffee farm in Ethiopia so that they may experience the daily life surrounding the bean and so they can understand how it is processed from the source.” If you donate $6k or $10k to the campaign, one or two tickets to the retreat will be yours.