While Ethiopia is accepted to be the birthplace of coffee, Yemen is where coffee really started to be appreciated on a much, much larger scale. According to tradition, the earliest record of coffee being consumed as a drink in Yemen was about 600 years ago. Since then, Yemen has cultivated an incredible array of indigenous varietals. Try as they might, over the centuries, Yemen struggled to keep their jewel of a commodity to themselves. It is said that green coffee (unroasted) was forbidden to export. Aren't we all glad that didn't work out too well for them? This month, ACR would like to introduce you to a coffee that made each of our hearts flutter: Yemen Mocca Haimi LTD.
Yemeni coffee farmers
Yemen is seated at the southernmost tip of the Arabian peninsula, just north of the Horn of Africa. Arid in the East, tropical and mountainous in the West, Yemen is a country of extremes in more ways than one. Contrary to what one might expect considering its history with coffee, Yemeni coffee farmers face serious challenges at each step of coffee production. Unreliable annual rainfall (sometimes less than 5 inches of rain per year), lack of supporting governmental bodies in place to facilitate export, and, of course, war—each should be enough to bring coffee production to a screeching halt. It's miraculous that coffee is still being exported from Yemen at all.
Fortunately, there are still some coffee exporters able to share one of Yemen's ancient commodities. Our Yemen Mocca Haimi LTD, in particular, comes to us from the Pearl of Tehama, a very unusual exporter, in that it is run by a woman, Fatoum Muslot.
"In recent years, the export company called Pearl of Tehama has had to reinvent itself to reach and support producers. Providing things like localized receiving warehouses has eased the burden of transporting coffee and ensured safe storage. Pearl of Tehama is currently helping producers organize formally because recognized producer associations can solicit international assistance for needed infrastructure improvements like roads, schools and water systems."
--A word from our trusted importers
Pearl of Tehama is surrounded by small coffee farms and rooftop drying beds, at an altitude between 3200-6500 feet above sea level. If you've read previous ACR articles, you may remember that coffee grown at high altitude, with harsher conditions, tends to yield bright, incredibly dynamic coffees. Our Yemen Mocca Haimi LTD goes even beyond that.Take a trip in the ol' time machine as you’re sipping this one. Dry processed on raised drying beds that dot rooftops across the area, we roast this coffee to a full-city medium to preserve the unique nuances. You get a sweet, blackberry note followed by a distinct cocoa finish that is out of this world!
As one might expect, our Yemen Mocca Haimi LTD is extremely limited. Though a little pricier than most of our other offerings, you really shouldn't pass up trying this one. This coffee is a glimpse into history. Its lineage dances on your palate as you isolate the subtle nuances.Yemen's role in the history of coffee is indisputably prominent. Its rugged, unforgiving environment, both physically and politically, have ultimately proven ineffective at prying loose the prized jewel of Yemen's ancient crown.