Top 10: Ethiopian traditional alcoholic drinks

Ethiopia, known for its rich cultural heritage and diverse culinary traditions, also boasts a vibrant array of traditional alcoholic drinks. From honey wine known as Tej to the potent homemade spirits like Araki and Tella, Ethiopian alcoholic beverages offer a unique taste of the country’s drinking culture. These fermented drinks hold a special place in Ethiopian social gatherings and celebrations, where friends and family come together to toast with these beloved beverages. As a part of the larger traditional African alcohol scene, Ethiopian alcohol drinks showcase the ingenuity and creativity of the local people in crafting their own distinctive libations.

Key takeaway

  • In Ethiopia, the preparation and consumption of cereal- and fruit-based traditional fermented alcoholic beverages is widespread.
  • Tella, Borde, Shamita, Korefe, Cheka, Tej, Ogol, Booka, and Keribo are among the popular alcoholic beverages in the country.

10 Ethiopian alcoholic beverages

1. Tella (ጠላ)

Tella is a special drink from Ethiopia. It’s like beer but made traditionally. People use different grains, like barley, wheat, or teff, and water to make it. First, they soak the grains, then they let them sprout, and finally, they mix them with water to ferment. Tella tastes light and a little sour, like a fizzy drink. Many people in Ethiopia like Tella, especially those in the countryside. They drink it at parties, festivals, and special events. Tella is part of Ethiopia’s history and culture.
  1.  Tej;The Honey Wine

Tej is a traditional Ethiopian alcoholic beverage made from honey, water, and gesho leaves. It’s a fermented beverage, which means it goes through a process where the sugars in the honey turn into alcohol. Tej is a popular drink in Ethiopia and is often enjoyed during special occasions and celebrations. It has a sweet taste because of the honey and a unique flavor because of the gesho leaves. Tej is also known for its high alcoholic content, so it’s important to drink it responsibly.

3. Araki (አራኪ)

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Arki-2.webp Araki, known as አራኪ in Ethiopia, is a traditional alcoholic beverage popular in the country. It is made from fermented grains, typically barley or wheat, and is known for its strong flavor and high alcohol content. Araki is a significant part of Ethiopian culture and is often consumed during social gatherings, celebrations, and special occasions. Its production involves a fermentation process where the sugars in the grains are converted into alcohol, giving it its distinctive taste. Araki holds a place in Ethiopian society as a beloved beverage enjoyed by many across the country.

4. Kribo

Keribo is a traditional Ethiopian alcoholic beverage enjoyed by many in the country. It is typically made from fermented grains like barley or wheat and has a distinct taste and aroma. Keribo is known for its moderate alcohol content, making it a popular choice for social gatherings and celebrations. The fermentation process gives Keribo its unique flavor profile and is often consumed alongside traditional Ethiopian dishes. This beverage holds a special place in Ethiopian culture, reflecting the country’s rich heritage and traditions.

5. Borde (ቦርዴ)Nourishing the Body and Soul

Borde, a traditional fermented beverage, holds a special place in Ethiopian households for its nutritional value and refreshing taste. Made from fermented sorghum or millet, borde is rich in probiotics and vitamins, making it a popular choice for both hydration and sustenance. Its mild sourness and smooth texture make it a beloved beverage, especially during hot summer days.

6. Shamita

Shamita is a traditionally fermented, low alcoholic beverage widely enjoyed across Ethiopia. The production process utilizes roasted and ground barley as the primary substrate, without the need for malt during saccharification, similar to other Ethiopian traditional drinks like Tella and Borde. This beverage doubles as a nourishing meal replacement for low-income workers, reflecting its significance in Ethiopian society. To make Shamita, barley flour is mixed with salt, linseed flour, and a pinch of spice along with water to create a slurry. A starter culture from previously produced Shamita is then introduced, allowing the mixture to ferment overnight. The addition of bird’s eye chili enhances its flavor, marking it ready for consumption. Notably, research by Ashenafi and Mehari highlighted the predominance of lactic acid bacteria and yeasts in Shamita, underscoring its microbial richness and health benefits, such as the inhibition of harmful pathogens like Salmonella and Staphylococcus aureus by the lactic acid bacteria derived from the drink.

7. Cheka

Cheka is a cherished low alcoholic beverage from southwestern Ethiopia, particularly within the Dirashe and Konso districts. This cereal- and vegetable-based drink starts with malt made from sorghum, maize, finger millet, alongside vegetables like cabbage and moringa. The unique fermentation process spans several days, enhancing its flavor and nutritional value. The production begins with malting cereals, followed by fermenting chopped cabbage and taro roots anaerobically. Subsequent additions of maize flour and prolonged fermentation enrich the mixture, which is then cooked, mixed with malt, and allowed to ferment further, producing the final beverage known for its distinct taste and health benefits, such as aiding digestion and providing essential nutrients like iron and calcium.

8. Korefe

Korefe, a foamy, low alcoholic beverage, is popular in northern and northwestern Ethiopia. The natural and spontaneous fermentation of barley, malted barley, and “gesho” (Rhamnus prinoides) in water forms the basis of this indigenous drink. The process involves extracting flavors and fermenting agents over several days, followed by the addition of non-malted barley and further fermentation to develop its unique profile. The preparation involves intricate steps like baking barley dough into unleavened bread, which is then mixed with other ingredients and allowed to ferment, creating a rich, complex flavor that encapsulates the traditional Ethiopian brewing artistry.


Booka is a low alcoholic beverage favored in southern Oromia. The simple yet unique preparation involves fermenting honey and water inside a cleaned cow bladder, demonstrating the resourcefulness of traditional Ethiopian beverage making. After a few days of fermentation, Booka emerges as a sweet, yellowish drink with an enticing aroma, enjoyed for its refreshing qualities and cultural significance.

10. Ogol

Ogol is a traditional fermented honey wine prevalent in western Ethiopia. It begins with the bark of the “Mange” tree, mixed with wild honey and water. The mixture ferments over several weeks, intensifying in flavor and alcohol content, followed by a secondary anaerobic fermentation to refine its taste and clarity. This honey wine is celebrated for its smoothness and is a staple in various cultural festivities.


Ethiopia’s traditional alcoholic beverages, such as Shamita, Cheka, Korefe, Ogol, and Booka, are much more than mere drinks; they are a vibrant testament to the nation’s rich cultural heritage and ingenuity in brewing. Each beverage, crafted with unique local ingredients and age-old techniques, not only delights the palate but also plays a crucial role in the social and ceremonial life of Ethiopian communities. By exploring these traditional drinks, we gain a deeper appreciation of Ethiopia’s diverse cultural landscape and its longstanding tradition of communal and celebratory spirit, making it a fascinating destination for cultural enthusiasts around the world.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the traditional alcoholic drinks of Ethiopia?

Tella is the most consumed traditional fermented alcoholic beverage in Ethiopia. It is the most popular beverage in the Oromia, Amhara, and Tigray regions. Barley, wheat, maize, millet, sorghum, “teff” (E. tef) and “gesho” leaves

What is the traditional drink Areke in Ethiopia?

“Areke” is produced from a mixture of ingredients such as milled “Gesho” (Rhamnus prinoides), finely ground and baked cereals, malt, and water called mash (locally named “Difdif”), followed by a distillation process.

What is the best drink in Ethiopia?

Tej is a traditional honey wine or mead-like drink that originates from Ethiopia. It holds significant cultural and historical importance in Ethiopian society and is considered the national drink of the country.
Tsedeniya Miraw( Content Marketing Specialist )

Tsedenia Miraw is a dynamic content marketing specialist with a deep passion for Ethiopian history. Her extensive experience in content creation spans various industries, where she consistently crafts engaging and informative stories that resonate with audiences and drive results.

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