As one of the oldest civilizations on the planet with roots back to the Eighth Century BCE, many of the pillars of modern society (math, science, philosophy, and commerce) have their roots in Yemen. In fact, you wouldn’t even be reading this if it hadn’t been for the people of Yemen. While most people believe coffee originated in Ethiopia, it was probably the Sufi monks of Yemen that first processed coffee, roasted it, and served it as a hot beverage.
Sadly, Yemen’s heritage is under attack due to an ugly civil war that threatens to leave two-thirds of their population (28 million) without adequate food or water. While it would be easy to summarize the conflict as the result of fighting between the north and the south or between theocracy and democracy, both sides of this conflict are backed by larger international powers and years of meddling by the international community (through colonization and negotiations over borders and territories) have had a profound impact on the situation in the country today.
At this moment however, a number of social entrepreneurs, including Qima Coffee and Port of Mokha are striving to restore economic opportunity through Yemen’s coffee industry. Qima’s work has even uncovered new genetic strains of coffee that are completely unique to Yemen. City Boy’s Youtube will be covering Qima’s work, the coffee industry in Yemen, and Yemenia more closely very soon. The quality of these coffees has been highly lauded and they have set record prices at auction. Because of this, there’s a lot of hope that the future of Yemen’s coffee industry will provide higher wages and be more focused on farmers.
Yemen’s coffees are typically complex and rich. It’s traditionally for them to be “natural” processed coffees, meaning the fruit is dried in the sun before the seeds are husked. While Yemen is starting to transition this process to raised drying beds, this process was historically done on rooftops. This coffee is incredibly unique and a stellar example of what people have come to expect from Yemen’s specialty coffee. It contains flavor notes of dark chocolate, apricot, fig, leather, and pipe tobacco. While the pipe tobacco and leather probably sound strange and may take a moment to get used to, you’ll likely find them to be satisfying. We certainly did, particularly as espresso.
This month’s coffee is sourced for us by Fatoum Muslot, a farmer and exporter in the “Matari” growing regions near Sana’a. She and her team have worked to educate the farmers they work with to improve coffee quality. Fotoum is very respected in the world of specialty coffee, which is notable considering she took over her father’s coffee company at a time when women in Yemen did not work, let alone run businesses.
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rich and luscious
dark chocolate, apricot, fig,
leather, and pipe tobacco
1000 – 2000 meters
Lot Size: 8000kg, Cup Score: 87
Relationship Established: 2020
Green: $17.86/kg, FOB: $13.5/kg
Transportation: $.50/kg, Production: $8.973/kg
Fair Trade Price: $3.086/kg
If you want to be the first to experience this incredible coffee, and to try a new coffee from a differently place around the world every month, be sure to subscribe to Coffee World Tour before January 1.