Coffee from Yemen


Found in Southwest Asia, Yemen can be considered a pioneer in the world of coffee. Many other countries should be sending in a ”thank you” card, considering this place represents the beginning for many others. It is believed that here is one of the most traditional coffees and, therefore, the best. First, let’s take a look at the whole story, and then you can make an idea for yourself.

History class

As far as we can tell from what was recorded, coffee was considered a beverage as early as the 6th century, in the context of the Ottoman Empire. Even so, Yemen was the place where the plants were actually cultivated and slowly developed into what we know today. Sufi monasteries were found to be processing coffee originating from Yemen over 500 years ago. This beautiful country was the only source of coffee for approximately 200 years, so you can only imagine the potential.

At first, the only means for transport were camels, but later on, as sea traveling was possible, the place from where Yemen coffee was shipped was called the Mokha Port. By 1650, coffee gained its popularity amongst the Europeans, announcing the beginning of a new business industry: coffee shops and cafes.

Mokha, Mocha, Moka?

Just above, we mentioned the term ”Mokha”, and it might have rung a bell for you. Let’s just say, the story is a little bit complicated, but we can take it to step by step.

First, we settled that ”Mokha” is related to the port from which Yemen coffee was exported to the rest of the world, which was transferred to naming this type of coffee. Then, we have cups that resemble it, originating from eastern Ethiopia. This type of coffee is mostly known as ”Mocha” or ”Moka”. But also, ”Mocha” is used to name the famous combination we get in coffee shops between coffee and hot chocolate. Most likely, this happened because Yemen coffee has some occasional chocolate tones. We know everything is a little bit confusing, but mainly, when you hear the term ”Mocha”, you should know that it refers to Yemen coffee.

The processing

In Yemen, coffee processing has stayed the same for over 500 years. The plantations can be found in small family farms, which are on terraced fields, carved into the local landscape. As they grow, the plants do not suffer any chemical treatment, and when the cherries are ripe, they are picked by hand and left to dry, without removing the pulp from the bean. The drying period is spent either in caverns, or rooftops. Once it ends, the beans are separated and irregular and rough seeds can be noticed, which is the trademark for Yemen coffee. The millstones used to grind the beans are powered by the natural power of donkeys or camels. We can already tell why this coffee is special.

Flavor profile

We can start by saying that it is very distinctive. Hints of dried fruit can be noticed, probably because of the fact that the bean and the cherry are dried together. Also, we can not forget the famous chocolate tones, along with cinnamon, cardamom, or even tobacco. All of these are tied together by the overall earthy profile, which gives away a piece of the beautiful country of Yemen.

Expensive, or prized?

It is not hard to believe that coffee like this is not exactly in the price range of what you would find in the local supermarkets. This is because the production is low and slow, due to the fact that there are no technological processes involved. Combine this with its unique flavor profile and you get a combination between low supply and high demand.

This is what creates both the high prices and the difficulty of finding authentic Yemen coffee. It goes without saying that other countries have tried to mimic it and sell it under the name of ”Mocha”, and here we bring forward Ethiopia and Saudi Arabia. On top of all, the exporting process is not easy either. Considering the plantations are mostly found in mountain terrain, there are many dangerous routes and also various bans on trade, transporting tariffs. Let’s just say that if you have the opportunity to get your hands on a cup of original coffee from Yemen, you should consider yourself more than lucky.

But hey, luck is found where you least expect it, which can be this very place. If now getting some of this coffee is in the top three of your ”must-do list”, you can head over to either Cafendo or Al-Alqeeq and place your order. These are specialized sites that offer nothing but the best and most qualitative coffee. So, even if Yemen is not fit for you, we are sure you can find something that suits your taste.