Yemen Mocha Matari

We are very excited to once again be able to offer a limited stock of Yemeni coffee after a few years of it being unavailable to specialty coffee purveyors in the U.S. Mocca (or Mocha / Mokha) refers to the nation’s renowned port, while “Sanani,” meaning from Sana’a, refers to one of the five major Yemeni growing regions. Sana’a is also the name of Yemen’s historic capital city, located within the same region. This particular Mocca Sanani is produced by Ali Hiba Muslot & Sons, who have specialized in Yemeni coffee exchanges for over 30 years.

Yemen claims the singular notoriety of being the only coffee producing country that resides within the Arabian Peninsula. It’s located directly south of Saudi Arabia and east of Ethiopia and Eritrea, across the Red Sea. Yemen produces mostly typica and bourbon varietals, but local Arabic farmers have further developed many regional varietals that have not been fully documented. Production is limited, yet wild arabica trees are still found growing natively in many areas.

The history of Yemen is as rich in coffee’s origins as it is in its cultivation and culture. Yemen’s port of Mocha on the Red Sea is synonymous with the establishment of the coffee trade, and famously credited as the world’s first point of exchange for Ethiopian arabica, dating back to the 15th century. Yemen is also widely regarded as the first growing region to establish commerce for coffee growing and harvesting as an industry. For centuries old world growing methods and multiple generations of knowhow have been handed down to ensure that future generations have the ability to continue production. Today, traditional growing methods like natural composting, rain collection and stone mulching are fundamentally both organic and sustainable as well as commonplace in a dry climate to retain soil moisture year-round.

Yemen’s rugged landscape and arid mountains presents a very unique set of challenges to growers, who utilize specialized irrigated terraces with supporting walls made of stone masonry (some dating back 2,000 years) in an extraordinary, fantastic and unconventional display of old-world engineering that literally clings to the edges of steep precipices at elevations ranging from 3,000 to 8,000 feet! Amazingly, modern day production has changed very little from these roots established nearly 600 years ago; the terraces are unable to sustain either a growth expansion or intensified cultivation due to limitations on water and space. The silver lining? Terraced soil stays rich in natural fertilizers and maintains a sustainable equilibrium with the generally older trees that produce less cherries, but a much higher sugar content.

Yemen coffees are traditionally dry processed, but in smaller portions some are left to tree-dry on the branch. Earthen homes with stone roof tops that are nearby the terraces provide the perfect drying patio for the harvest. Generally speaking there is a bodied, earthy profile as the cherries absorb moisture from the earthen rooftops as they dry. Traditional millstones are used to separate the dried husks from the beans, that are then collected and blended with a selection of local spices and served as a hot tea called Qishr or Gishr. Thanks to the preservation of these customs, very little is squandered in Yemeni coffee production. There’s also another popular, hot coffee drink called Kahwah, that’s made from whole-roasted, dry-process coffee cherries that are commonly pan-roasted over open flame and ground whole. Due to the demand for these “cascara” beverages, the prices of dried Yemeni coffee husk has been known to match if not exceed that of Yemeni green.

Yemeni coffee has been historically difficult to acquire. Yields are low and demand is high, and as a result the Yemeni government and its Ministry of Agriculture is actively working on several different projects in order to boost production by 2020. Plans include developing new cultivation techniques, along with enhanced, modernized irrigation and establishing protected rehab spaces for older trees and young saplings.

We expect that most roasters will be purchasing this coffee to use as either a single origin pour over or espresso. However we recommend you try your hand at a traditional Mocha Java blend using the Mocca Sanani and our Papua New Guinea Purosa. A few hundred years ago the Dutch went nuts for this stuff and in our humble opinion, a true classic never fades.

Producer: Ali Hiba Muslot & Sons
Region: Sana’a
Variety: Typica, Bourbon
Processing: Natural
Altitude: 6,500 - 8,200 ft (2000 - 2500m)
Harvest: Nov - Feb