This coffee is produced by legacy farmers of various sizes in the high mountains of Sa’adah and Ibb Governorate. Coffee-growing families in Sa’adah and Ibb, similar to many others across the country, tend parcels of terraced land passed through many generations. Coffee is the one crop that continues to survive above all others, both for the livelihood it provides, as well as being a deep social tradition that keeps communities together. Yemen is the oldest territory on Earth to cultivate coffee. Its seed stock, originally transported from wild arabica landraces in Ethiopia, was used to create the world’s first ever coffee farms where coffee would be grown commercially for trade across the Arabian peninsula and eventually mainland Europe. (“Arabica” itself referred to the Arabian coffee supply that was the West’s first in history.)
Classic Yemen coffee and a bit cleaner than our last more value lot! A very pleasing arrival. Not quite as traceable as the Haraaz Red lots, but still from more direct relationships, maybe a point down score wise compared to the Haraaz micro-lots but a steal for a tasty and fresh Yemen coffee!
Tasting Notes: A good fruitiness upfront balanced with spicy (hint of earthy anise) chocolate notes. Yemen coffees are the rare cup where you can occasionally see a “banana” like fruit tone – don’t worry though, its a little bit of a reach for banana, its not like eating a banana or banana flavored coffee, although with developed tongue, most can pick it up. Red fruit and bakers chocolate are the dominate tones – fruit is accentuated with lighter roasts, chocolaty with darker roasts. A lovely super complex old world natural.
Roasting Notes: Yemen Mocca is old world natural processed – high chaff and a bit uneven roasting. The cup profile is good from a medium to dark roast, Traditionally served on the darker side. Our favorite was a nice strong medium roast though, chocolaty factor is nice and strong but doesn’t mute all the front end jazz.
Maintaining coffee trees in a climate as dry, high, and uniquely challenging as Yemen’s western and northern ranges, requires the kind of proven techniques that only generations of farming can bestow. Coffee farms are terraced on arid, incredibly steep slopes. Bore holes are dug manually into the rock to access individual water reserves for each tree wherever rain is scarce. Coffee trees are spaced generously, about 1000 per hectare (compared to 4000-6000 common in Latin America), both by necessity on the narrow terraces, as well as for better groundwater access and erosion control.
Raising young coffee trees is a matter of hardening them for a lifetime of vicious elements and water scarcity. Older coffee trees become very spacious and tall, and often end up hanging their branches over the terrace edge, known locally as “hanging gardens”. Above the coffee, shade trees are carefully selected and positioned for how well they block water evaporation. As can be imagined, productivity is very low in such conditions. And still, over one million people work in Yemen’s coffee trade, from farm to export. Pearl of Tehama, the miller and exporter who manages all transportation, milling, and exporting of partner farms’ coffee, is a family business founded in 1970. For many years, all coffee was exported under the name of the family patriarch and founder, Ali Hiba Muslot. After his death in 1980 his three sons continued using the family name until 2012, when the family business, including other trades and retail, was split up. The coffee export business was reborn as Pearl of Tehama for Import, Export, and C.A.S, and is still owned by Ms. Fatoum Muslot, the late Muslot’s daughter. Fatoum’s eldest son, Yasser Al-Khaderi, is the company’s general manager.
See HERE for our buddy Bob’s personal memoir of the ongoing relationship, and HERE for our buddy Mayra’s interview with Fatoum Muslot herself to learn more about the family’s ongoing mission in her own words.
Yemen continues to suffer from protracted conflict that has cost many lives and displaced over 3 million people. Two-thirds of the country is in need of food or medical aid. So, when new crop arrives we pause to remember and honor the coffee.
Yemen is the oldest territory on Earth to cultivate coffee. Its seed stock, originally transported from wild arabica landraces in Ethiopia, was used to create the world’s first ever coffee farms where coffee would be grown commercially for trade across the Arabian peninsula and eventually mainland Europe. (“Arabica” itself referred to the Arabian coffee supply that was the West’s first in history.)
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