What makes coffee from Yemen so special

The town that facilitated the coffee trade in Yemen was called Al-Makha, and its main product became known as Mocha, notes Perfect Daily Grind. Yemen zealously guarded its valuable exports and refused to sell seeds or plants. But according to Qima Coffee, smuggling coffee beans has become a cottage industry, with the Dutch, British and French all smuggling beans so they can start their own production in distant settlements. The most famous was the one pioneered by Dutch traders in Java, which Perfect Daily Grind says would later contribute to one of the world’s most sustainable coffee blends: Mocha Java. Competition, however, has destroyed the coffee monopoly in Yemen. In 1800, observes Qima Coffee, Yemeni production accounted for only 6% of world supply.

Today, Yemen’s production accounts for an even smaller share of the global coffee market (just 0.1%, per Quima Coffee). But its coffee culture remains, one distinguished by traditional family farms, with trees grown at higher altitudes on terraced slopes. According to Al-Aqeeq, cultivation methods have not changed for 500 years, and even today no chemicals are used. Yemen’s distinctive dry processing – a result of the arid climate – and centuries-old methods are noticeable in every drop, along with characteristic hints of chocolate. The National Coffee Association describes the taste of Yemeni coffee as “deep, rich and unparalleled”. What else would you expect from the country that has done longer than any other?

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