Foldscoping on the streets of Addis Ababa

Sipping from boiling pots of coffee on cobbled meandering streets, with a coffee shop every step along – is not a description of some old block in Paris but the heart of Addis. Addis Ababa – the capital city of Ethiopia, the land that actually discovered Coffee and shared it with the world. A country that remains the only African country that was never colonized. A country with remarkable people willing to take you in their arms with a smile.

The currency of Ethiopia, Bre does not have a picture of a king or an emperor. But instead – what you see is a microscopist. I can not imagine a more meaningful declaration of importance of science in our society!

Just after an intense foldscope workshop for students at Addis Ababa University (post coming soon); Kristy and I decided to take a stroll in the busy streets of Addis – in hope of finding a Jabena. What we found was something deeper, beautiful people and their friendship which makes the coffee taste even more sweet.

Coffee shop at the university student canteen.

A stack of books on “extreme science”. Once I started flipping the pages, I was disappointed that it’s just a brand of text books. Anyway, everything is extreme in science if you look deep enough.

A book on microscopy just displayed on the street book shop.

A delivery unit for expectant mothers.

Finally, after a long walk into the heart of the market, we ended up with a coffee shop. What was supposed to be a transaction, turned into a soul searching conversation with a mother and daughter selling hand made coffee pots.

Just as they shared the secrets of their craft, the right temperature to fire the pot, how to caramalize the pot with sugar for a shine, how to treat the inside of the pot with coffee boiling (spewing hot coffee on everyone nearby) and the love for each other – we shared the craft of science, it’s importance and finally Foldscoping water right outside the shop.

We parted with hugs and warmth in our bodies, not just coming from boiling pots of Jabena, but the sparks of curiosity that we shared together siting at the shop. I will never forget this experience!


Manu (with Kristy)

Ps: if you are curious what coffee looks like under a foldscope, wait no further. Do the experiment!

Leave a Reply