Ethiopia is the only African country never to have been colonised (it is debatable whether Liberia was colonised or not). This statement was repeated again and again on our visit; Ethiopians are naturally very proud of this.
I vaguely remember my facts from lessons taken in the hot and sticky classrooms in Kuwait. It was hard to keep my eyes open in History to be honest. But basically, Mussolini joined the scramble for Africa and part of the country was occupied by the Italians. Haile Selassie asked the League of Nations (which both Italy and Ethiopia were members of) for help, but it was refused and Italian East Africa (now Eritrea) was formally recognised. When World War II broke out in Europe, Britain (and Allied forced) stepped in to defeat the Italians in Ethiopia. (Or something like that...right, Mr Steve?)
But, considering the Italians were only in Addis Ababa for 5 years (I think. Tim?) the colony effort has made an imprint on the city.
The coffee culture in Ethiopia goes further back than the Italian occupation, but the Italian past is present. The many cafes around the Piassa are busy with men standing at bars, chatting about the days events while they drink a quick macchiato. Calling 'Ciao!' (really) before they continue on with their day. It is quite bizarre.
We spent the holidays comparing the coffee in different regions, but couldn't find better (or cheaper - 5 macchiatos cost just over $1!) than Tomoca Coffee, our favourite place in Addis.
(I stole Kelly's photo-thank you!)