Yemen has some serious troubles, including hunger, water shortages, and running battles with Al Qaeda of the Arabian Peninsula. The U.S. and Saudi Arabia are propping up the Yemeni government so its territory doesn’t become a launching pad for Al Qaeda terrorism. On Oct. 18, the State Department brought a delegation of Yemeni businesspeople to Bloomberg’s New York headquarters to discuss their desire to attract U.S. investment. What’s one thing that they said could help lift Yemen’s fortunes?
Coffee. The Yemeni city of Mocha is one of the world’s oldest sources of coffee beans. The website Specialty Coffee Advisor has this to say: “Yemen coffees are the epitome of a ‘wild cup’ and can border on scary at times because of their deep, earthy, complex pungency with overlays of dry fruit (think raisin), cardamom, dry cinnamon, and tobacco notes.”
The Yemeni government is encouraging farmers to plant coffee instead of qat, which is the unofficial national drug of Yemen. The leaves of the evergreen qat bush are chewed as a stimulant. Qat is legal and not strongly addictive, but chewing it is a huge time-waster, and its cultivation contributes to Yemen’s severe water shortage.
There aren’t any Yemen coffees available from any roaster we’re familiar with (at least according to http://newcoffeeupdates.com), but the folks at Red Tree Trading Company in Houston specialize in Yemeni coffees, and Sweet Maria’s offers up some fine green Yemeni coffee as well. Here’s what Tom Owens from Sweet Maria’s has to say:
Given the political instability in the region, we were amazed by the quality of coffee we were able to get from our supplier in 2011. The same has been true in 2012. This first lot of new crop coffee is from Ismali, and is all but gone. We’re gearing up to list the second – a nice lot from Harasi – which should be up on our site in a couple of days. Expect even more before the end of summer. We’re steadily working through our current lots of Yemeni coffee. Harasi and Matari are both great examples of how good Yemen coffee can be with optimal harvesting and sorting. These are the last of this year’s crop, so get them while you still can!
Do you have the inside scoop on where to find Yemeni coffee? Have you tried any Yemeni coffees recently that really knocked your socks off? Sound off in the comments below!