When it comes to exciting coffee-producing countries here in the 2020s, there are perhaps none that have quite captivating the coffee-drinking public’s attention like that of Yemen. Until about 10 years ago, Yemen, the birthplace of coffee, hadn’t really been associated with specialty coffee, as war and infrastructure issues kept coffee, often grown in the most remote of regions, from making its way to the global stage. But over time, Yemeni importers like Port of Mokha’s Mokhtar Alkhanshali brought awareness to the coffee quality his homeland was producing. Now, Yemeni coffee fetches some of the highest per-pound prices at auction.
Those auctions have traditionally been private, where a company acts as a go-between, buying the lots from the farmers and then selling them at auction. In this model, the farmer is paid a set price, regardless of how it performs at the auction, and the private company gets to keep the rest. But now, in collaboration with Union of Yemeni Coffee Farmer Cooperatives, Yemen’s Unity of Coffee Organization, and the Yemeni Coffee Exporters Association, the Mokha Institute is hosting the National Yemeni Coffee Auction (NYCA), “the first ever public national auction,” and roasters can receive coffee samples and register to take part.
Co-founded by the aforementioned Alkanshali and renown coffee professional Willem Boot, the Mokha Institute is a non-profit organization created to “serve as the neutral, centralized authority to provide expert technical direction for Yemen’s coffee sector.” Announced back in November of 2021, the NYCA seeks to distinguish itself from prior Yemeni coffee auctions by cutting out the middleman. Per a press release, all the “auction winnings go directly to the farmer or exporter who submitted the coffee.”
For the auction, a total of 161 lots were submitted by some 1,200 Yemeni farmers. The lots were then evaluated and the top 50 sent to the Boot Coffee Campus in California for a final assessment and grading. From there, the top 28 were selected to be part of the NYCA, which will take place online on August 31st.
“In a time in Yemen when there is great suffering and dire conditions that our people are enduring, in this year, the best Yemeni coffee is going out into the world,” said Muhammad al Qassemi, President of the Unity of Coffee Organization. “Despite all of the challenges and divisions, we came together. We built infrastructure, held conferences, trained new coffee professionals, and much more—all of this to present these gems to the world.”
And the auction is open to any and all roasters around the world. Registration is now open for any would-be bidders and will continue until August 15th. Coffee samples from the auction lots are available in limited quantities on a first come, first served basis. For more information or to register, visit the National Yemeni Coffee Auction’s official website.