The reemergence of Yemeni coffee into the general consciousness of the specialty sector is due in no small part to Mokhtar Alkhanshali. The San Francisco native popularized the coffees of his family’s homeland with his importing company, Port of Mokha, established in 2015. Traveling extensively and at great peril throughout war-torn Yemen, Alkhanshali worked directly with producers to find and cultivate what have become much sought-after coffees, prized as much at cafes as they are on the Finals stage of the US Brewers Cup.
Alkhanshali’s work was as much about introducing Yemeni producers to newer farming practices to increase their crop’s quality as it was showing to the world the top-notch output from an otherwise underrepresented coffee origin. And with his next initiative, Alkhanshali is looking to boost the former to even greater heights. Teaming up with high profile coffee professionals, Alkhanshali has created The Mokha Institute, a non-profit organization “to serve as the neutral, centralized authority to provide expert technical direction for Yemen’s coffee sector.”
Announced Monday, July 6th, The Mokha Institute is the combined effort of Alkhanshali, Boot Coffee founder Willem boot, former Executive Director of Coffee Quality Institute David Roche, and international development expert Susan Corning. Their goal, according to the press release, is to make “Yemen’s specialty-coffee sector a catalyst for peace and stability,” to “reduce the impact of Yemen’s economic devastation by revitalizing its coffee sector,” per Roche.
“We are trying to build the future of coffee in Yemen.” – Mokhtar Alkhanshali
To this end, The Mokha Institute has developed a two-year plan that will help Yememi coffee producers in the short-term that will help bolster more long-term goals like “peace and stability, water infrastructure development, youth programs, and economic development initiatives.” The two-year plan includes technical strategies that can be broken down into four different categories: institutional development, training programs, research, and specialty market development.
These strategies include the development of a Yemeni coffee association and establishment of a “coffee excellence center,” training programs on farming, processing, cupping, and production techniques, establishing cup profiling and DNA fingerprinting programs, and developing a comprehensive marketing strategy to better popularize Yemeni coffee around the world.
To help the initiative hit the ground running, The Mokha Institute has begun a fundraising drive to assist in raising the capital needed. These funds, according to the website, will “encompass the start-up of the institute itself, such as organizational infrastructure development, office, bylaws, board, website, staffing, partner development, communications, and legal expertise.”
For more information or to donate, visit The Mokha Institute's official website.
Top image via The Mokha Institute.