1 Best Yemeni Coffees in 2020. It’s said that in the 1500s there were more than 3000 coffee shops in Cairo, all of them serving Yemeni coffee, and it's speculated that the very first coffee beans to be served to the Western world were most likely of Yemeni descent. This goal with this coffee, well, failure isn’t an option. It took elusive Dutch traders, who had long been shipping Yemen's coffee to Europe, to abscond with seeds. 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To do so I have to buy them in the Philippines, fly them to Ethiopia, and then fly them again to Djibouti. One story credits a Yemeni Sufi traveling through Ethiopia who decided to try the berries that caused unusual liveliness in birds that ate them. Much of the costs of Yemeni coffee, which can fetch upwards of $240 a pound, stem from the limited number of farms devoted to coffee … People are excited. Blue Bottle Coffee, a specialty coffee roaster, sold a cup of coffee sourced from Yemen for an unprecedented $16 per cup before running out of beans. The war hasn’t ended yet, but I’m very stubborn. For nearly two centuries, beginning in the 1500s, all of the coffee consumed anywhere in the world was grown in Yemen. A Persian medical treatise dating to the ninth century espouses the coffee cherry's curative powers, and itinerant tradesmen had the practice of crushing the cherry and mixing it with clarified butter for a high-energy snack. And then getting the coffee out of Yemen, what is that process like? He attracted the attention of … I want two things to happen: one, for people to taste something unbelievably delicious and to have a new experience; and two, to actually do something important for a country currently in the midst of a war. We’ll keep working to continue this project. Last year, we were fortunate enough to partner with Port of Mokha, a coffee export company whose mission is to revive Yemen’s coffee economy by linking farmers to the specialty market. Written on a little card, you’ll find your coffee… In the fall, another shipment will come out. Mokhtar Alkhanshari: I love history. Sprudge has written extensively about this connection before, but since the $16-a-cup Blue Bottle Coffee collaboration with Mokhtar Alkhanshali’s Port of Mokha last year, the demand for … Tax documents of coffee sales date back 400 years, though legend, and Yemen’s literary traditions, point to far earlier beginnings. Yemen Medium Roast (whole bean) 1.3 Al Kbous Yemeni Coffee. James Freeman, the company’s CEO, called it “celestial, like angels singing.” Yemen… We take a large risk in paying them what we pay, but we have to. Shop Now. JF: There was a big, long dry spell where our standards were getting higher and the coffees coming out of Yemen weren’t as interesting. They see Yemen and they see ISIS and war, but ISIS doesn’t represent us. In addition to ongoing Saudi-led airstrikes and on-the-ground fighting, an unprecedented cholera outbreak and widespread food shortages threaten millions of civilians’ lives. Helping Mokhtar build on this and to help people recognize it as high-quality coffee and to offer more and more of it and for it to get better and better, that’s my hope. According to William Ukers’ tome, All About Coffee, Mecca had coffeehouses in the late 1400s, and Cairo’s first coffeehouses were open at the turn of the sixteenth century—all serving coffee from Yemen, of course. Browse coffee gear in the Blue Bottle Store. Blue Bottle put in an order, and before long, others came calling as well. This year, there are two ports open and an airport. This year’s release of their coffee coincides with Dave Eggers’ publication of The Monk of Mokha, which not only chronicles the adventures of Port of Mokha Founder, Mokhtar Alkhanshali, but also tells the larger history of coffee. It was, for me, this wonderful thing that just came together. MA: Our farmers are working hard. Some form of husk-tea, an infusion of the dried outer layer of the cherry (now called qishr in Yemen and cascara elsewhere), was popular long before coffee as we know it emerged. There, as in Ethiopia, natural processing was the de facto method; wet processing had yet to be invented. The country is still in the midst of a war. One or two people who purchase this coffee might think it’s an outrage, but most of these people who spend $16 on Mokhtar’s coffee, they’ll be talking about it for months. Some 330 years later, Alkhanshari’s Port of Mokha coffee company and Freeman’s Blue Bottle Coffee (named for the titular Viennese coffee shop) have come together to start selling Yemeni-grown, specialty-grade coffee to the public. Bordering the western and southern edge are the Red Sea and Indian Ocean. That beverage—where the seed is removed, roasted, and boiled—did not happen until, it seems, Yemen's Sufi Muslim community discovered and sanctioned it for an aid during prayer. From Djibouti, they have to be smuggled on a boat to one of the ports of Yemen (if they’re open) and then driven from that boat on dangerous roads through airstrikes. But, of course, the militia that was controlling the airport at the time wanted to know what these Moisture Analyzers were. Specifically, Central Europe’s first coffeehouse, Zur Blauen Flasche (The Blue Bottle… Starting Thursday, June 9th, Blue Bottle will be selling Huessein al-Haba, which features notes of dried strawberry, coffee blossom and crystalline, by the cup at all of its retail locations. This is especially true for the coffees of Yemen. 1.1 Al Mokha: The World's First Coffee. MA: 90% of the coffee in the world derives genetically from Yemen. Yemen’s port towns have long been of strategic importance. Mentions of coffee went beyond mystical experiences to exaltations of the effects it had on the very people who drank it: "It washes away the coarseness from a man's nature," one poet, Ahmad b. al-Husayn Sharaf al-Din wrote. Indeed, the Port of Mokha, for which Mokhtar Alkhanshali’s company is named, was likely the first port to launch coffee out of the Middle East, propelling the ascent of a worldwide drink. What we can do is present it in the most compelling way, knowing that ultimately it has to live up to that presentation and be remarkably delicious. Coffee is much more than just some brown beverage. So revered was the origin that it took Congress passing the Pure Food Law in 1906—mandating companies to truthfully label the country of origin—for this to change. And then Stephen Vick tells me, “I met this guy that’s making really great coffee from Yemen.” And I had to taste that coffee. Yemen is historically famous for coffee production. I want this to just be the start of something. But the edict was quickly overruled by his superior, the Sultan of Cairo, a coffee lover himself. Would I have ever thought that I would escape Yemen on a boat, and then a year later see my coffee land in Oakland, or that Blue Bottle would be launching it the way they are? So, Blue Bottle’s Port of Mokha coffee is being marketed as investment in the idea of restoring Yemen to its rightful place as one of the world’s premier coffee-growing regions. It’s a miracle that coffee from anywhere gets to us the way it does. JF: What’s in the cup is so special and the story behind it is so special and the history is so special and the guy behind it all is so special—it’s just one thing after another really coming together. With infatuation comes mystery, and myths abound (as they do in Ethiopia) as to the exact moment brewed coffee came into use. Yemen Dark Roast (whole bean) 1.2 Al Mokha: The World's First Coffee. And Mokhtar was able to share the good news with the farmers back in Yemen, whose future, despite all the political unrest and economic … Blue Bottle's light roasted Port of Mokha coffee is tasty, which is a relief — it cost me $16. The stress exacerbated by little moisture and extraordinary elevation forced sugar production in the cherry to make finished coffees that were beautifully sweet and fruited. My Uber driver had heard my story on NPR, and she stopped and bought me flowers. And that’s our goal with James. I worked here as a community organizer and coffee was this amazing intersection of something that could fuel social impact, a delicious drink, and a way to do something that helped my family’s homeland. Coffee's role in spiritual practice gave it a numinous quality, and it quickly became a favorite literary subject. JF: Miracles aren’t cheap. Famished, he tried berries hanging on a nearby branch. They’ll be telling their friends that they had the most amazing cup of coffee and that it was from Yemen. So, I just told them they were carrot juicers. His struggles to bring Yemeni coffee out of his war-torn country have become synonymous with this particularly intense iteration of the journey. It was a lot I purchased from Royal for a couple years, and it was really delicious. I’m just going to keep pushing and if people are interested and willing to pay this price, well, I think I can help to shed light on specialty coffee as a whole. Coffee took well to Yemen’s arid land: Despite mere inches of rain each year, the coffee trees that migrated north from Ethiopia’s lush forests adapted by producing countless drought-resistant mutations. The farmers worked so hard on these coffees. Noah Sanders (@sandersnoah) is a Sprudge.com staff writer based in San Francisco, and a contributor to SF Weekly, Side One Track One, and The Bold Italic. Colin and Samir try Blue Bottle's $16 dollar coffee. MA: A good example is getting GrainPro bags into the country. It’s very difficult to go in and out. Its borders and even its name have changed throughout the millennia—it is one of the longest-inhabited places on earth—but it has always occupied the southwest corner of the Arabian peninsula. An alternate legend tells of a Sufi healer who, after trying to seduce a patient’s wife, found himself exiled to a desert cave. Blue Bottle has called Alkhanshali’s coffee “one of our most celebrated.” Photo: Port of Mokha If you like Dave Eggers, riveting stories, or craft coffee, then you probably know the best seller … With the accompanying cultural changes it brought, coffee had its critics. Even before the Suez Canal streamlined ocean travel in 1869, these waters were among the busiest shipping lanes in the world. And there’s a picture of you, Stephen, and I and I’m holding those flowers. I was born in the Bay Area and was exposed to specialty coffee the right way. From one writer's imagination comes a debate between a woman called Coffee and a man named Qat: "I am the one who is lovely to drink and my nicknames have overtaken the East and West. Most people don’t know that. © 2019 BLUE BOTTLE COFFEE Inc., All Rights Reserve, BlueBottleCoffee.com | Terms of Use | Privacy, Every bag of Blue Bottle coffee comes with a story. MA: It’s so important to me to have these products out in the world. I want to have a long-term effect on Yemen. All the coffee is grown and processed in Yemen, … Contents. How does selling Yemeni coffee help the people of Yemen? , deep dig into the history of coffee of Yemen, Auctioning Coffee Stuffs For A Good Cause, The World’s Most Incredible Egg Nog Latte Is Made In Guadalajara, 18 Warm & Wonderful Holiday Coffee Blends, At Star Village Roasters, Building Community Through Indigenous Entrepreneurship, Cascara Podcast Episode Three: In San Francisco With Nick Cho, In Oakland, Cute Coffee Fuses Vivid Design With Human Connection, The Triumph: Black Brazilians In Coffee, A New Book By Phyllis Johnson, Italian Coffee Drinkers Are Rediscovering The Moka Pot, Sprudge Maps Spotlights: Little Waves Coffee/Cocoa Cinnamon In North Carolina, In Melbourne, Someone Is Pouring Myserious Grafitti Latte Art, Kickstarter: Augie’s Union Transforms Into Slow Bloom Coffee Roasters. I loved learning about the Port of Mocca and the ancient Sufis who drank coffee there. Coffee, as we know it, would simply not exist without Yemen. And Blue Bottle… Specifically, Central Europe’s first coffeehouse, Zur Blauen Flasche (The Blue Bottle), was said to have been purveyors of Yemeni coffee, purchased from traveling Turkish troops in the 1680s. There was a time when American coffee companies marketed all of their coffee, regardless of country of origin, as “Mocha," designating it as a coffee from Yemen shipped from the Port of Mokha. In 2013, at the Blue Bottle cafe in Mint Plaza, Al-Khanshali tried his first specialty coffee: the Ethiopia Yirgacheffe Chelelektu. Merchants from the ports seek me and enter the dreaded seas to obtain me." Happy first birthday to our sweet Sansome cafe! If someone wants to order their $16 cup of coffee to go, they can do that. What we drink in a normal day represents the last step in a long journey that spans great distances and entails enormous amounts of effort. Alkhanshali, a Yemeni-American coffee importer who grew up in the Bay Area, had been thrust into the public eye in March of 2015, when, after a series of bombings in Yemen, he escaped through the historic Port of Mocha on a 20-foot boat. ... Yemen. Yemen is historically famous for coffee production. Origins: Yemen Our Origins series delves into the history of one country (and coffee) at a time Every bag of Blue Bottle coffee comes with a story. Founder of Blue Bottle Coffee See Praise Mokhtar and the Port of Mohka team are going where no one has dared to go...and through their passion and dedication are producing some of the best coffee in … For a long time the ports in Yemen were closed, but because Yemen imports 90% of its goods, I knew that, eventually, the ports would have to open. I really started to annoy [Sprudgie Award winner & former Blue Bottle green buyer] Stephen Vick. It’s said that in the 1500s there were more than 3000 coffee shops in Cairo, all of them serving Yemeni coffee, and it's speculated that the very first coffee beans to be served to the Western world were most likely of Yemeni descent. Visit our cafes to sample our … Last year, upscale coffee chain Blue Bottle made waves in San Francisco when it began offering $16 cups of Yemeni coffee. Find grinders, coffee makers, and Blue Bottle swag! But it was the coffee's profile—chocolatey and full-bodied—that earned such a devoted following. Political and spiritual leaders across the Middle East, and eventually in Europe, issued denouncements and outright bans against coffee. They see if it's actually worth the money and tell you why this Yemeni coffee is so expensive. To see them smiling. The country’s enduring impact is incontrovertible, but its story is obscured by today’s reality: A war that began in 2015 has become “the world’s largest humanitarian crisis,” according to the United Nations. I’d read about the history of coffee before I started Blue Bottle and was familiar with Yemen’s history with coffee and its importance in the coffee world. After escaping from Yemen and arriving in America, I took an Uber over to Webster for a cup of coffee. Blue Bottle’s Yemeni coffees may be the most expensive cup the Bay Area has ever seen, but only by a dollar or two. Cafe culture, after all, presented a novel opportunity for people to gather in non-religious spaces. How do you convince customers that this cup of coffee is worth $16? Each cup of coffee comes with a Yemeni-inspired cardamom sesame cookie and a booklet that traces the coffee… But this is more than just coffee in a paper cup, it’s a real experience. Yemen is remarkably mountainous, with highlands that exceed 3,500 meters in elevation. Yemeni coffee is now famously expensive; when Blue Bottle partnered with Port of Mokha, it made headlines for the $16 cups. Find grinders, coffee makers, and Blue Bottle swag! But coffee's frequent presence in literature acknowledges the profound shift it had on not just one's mood, but on the ways that people socialized. Look here first for the coffee information you need in December 2020 to keep healthy, happy and cheerful with your next delicious cup of coffee. We can’t control that. They did, and the coffees got shipped out on the MSC Rebecca and finally, landed here. JF: I see this as the beginning of a relationship. Written on a little card, you’ll find your coffee’s name, a few details about where it came from and who grew it, and the delightful flavors you’ll soon enjoy. A cup of coffee helps to dispel the stereotypes because it shows something positive coming out of this country. It is so powerful for people to see that. (Ahmad b. Muhammad al'Mu'allimi, d. 1861) Yemen is, and has long been, a place of poetry and literature—its first alphabet dates to more than ten centuries BCE. Here Carly Getz, Blue Bottle Green Coffee Specialist, explains how to identify florality and why this quality defines many of the coffees we most revere. Alkhanshali was due to arrive in Seattle for a coffee-tasting contest, so he used a rowboat to get to Africa to make it to the U.S. on time — an effort that bore success at the contest. With Jean-Luc Godard, who famously said, “It’s not where you take things from—it’s where you take them to,” we must humbly disagree: The roots of our coffee are as vital as their cherries. With the emergence of global trade, Yemeni merchants tried to hold onto their monopoly by preventing coffee seedlings, or fertile seeds, from leaving. And then I walked into the coffee shop and there was James. How did you end up being drawn towards Yemeni coffee, James? And when coffee reached Europe, it went by many disparaging monikers, like “bitter Mohammedan gruel,” aimed at dissuading the curious. Port of Mokha coffee is available at Blue Bottle by the cup, or for $65 for six ounces online, and each purchase comes with a sesame cardamom cookie inspired by Alkhanshari's great … Come see all the best Yemen coffee, products, beverages, videos, and more. Come by for a cookie, coffee in The Arch, and our special Yemen release. Read more Noah Sanders on Sprudge. Sensing them bitter and too hard to chew, he roasted the fruit in a fire and then boiled the toasted seeds to soften them. Be it Brazil or Colombia, Kenya or Burundi—the trip from soil to cherry to bean to cup is an arduous one. My story is just a little bit more extreme. Mocha Mill is a company built to place Yemeni coffee back at the forefront of the global coffee trade by empowering coffee farmers in Yemen with the knowledge and tools to bring positive changes in the quality of their coffees and lives. As qat, another stimulating substance, gained in popularity, poets would themselves choose loyalties and write about the virtues of one over the other. Blue Bottle put in an order, and before long, others came calling as well. Along with a few other famous heists, these thefts brought coffee plants to new lands—sparking new economies, colonization, and the spread of a commodity crop worldwide. James Freeman: The first single-origin coffee I sold was actually from Yemen. (And at a more affordable price than its starting price of $16 a cup, the most expensive coffee Blue Bottle had ever sold.) ... day to say the ship carrying his coffee from Yemen was chugging … I spoke with Freeman and Alkhanshari prior to the launch about what brought them together, the miracle of coffee export, and just how difficult it is to produce delicious coffee in today's troubled Yemen. “This is not coffee,” he said to himself. Blue Bottle began selling Port of Mokha coffee in limited release. We have all the latest coffee information, product reviews, customer ratings, and so much more. We’re working on a cookie to go with the coffee, a sweet really, based on Mokhtar’s great-grandmother’s recipe. Coffee Guide Bryan Mazzarello September 15, 2017 Blue Bottle at Fifteen, single origin, yemen Updates from Our Port of Mokha Journey Since we launched our Port of Mokha coffee, we’ve witnessed some … There’s going to be, perhaps, people that think that this coffee should be cheap. In anticipation of the book, and in celebration of Port of Mokha's extraordinary coffee, we want to consider Yemen’s pivotal role as coffee’s first commercial origin. And we want people to know how special and how expensive it is to get it into this country. While Mokhtar Alkhanshali ’s celebrated coffee company Port of Mokha commands up to $16 a cup at cafes like Blue Bottle, Alkhanshali’s colleagues at his original coffee company, Mocha … JF: No coffee company has worked more hours per kilogram for a coffee. And we’ve designed this beautiful, information pamphlet. MA: This time last year, there were no ports open. We share these stories because we think the people who grow, select, process, ship, and make your coffee matter, and we share them because coffee is ultimately about people. In seventeenth-century Yemen, one imam ordered citizens to uproot all coffee bushes. Yemen's fertile landscape and advantageous location enabled the country's monopoly on coffee production. All of this, just to bring GrainPro bags to our farmers. Even coffee’s name bears the imprint of the Arabian Peninsula, coming from the word quawah, a metonym for wine. MA: The only way to get to Yemen, currently, is through a UN chartered flight from Jordan. MA: My very first interaction with specialty coffee, with what coffee was really supposed to be like, was at Mint Plaza. In 1511, the governor of Mecca banned coffee because coffeehouse culture too closely resembled raucous taverns. Enter Mokhtar Alkhanshali. It’s widely believed that Yemen’s Sufi Muslim community popularized the practice of drinking coffee. Winter Menu. Explain a little bit about the difficulties of producing coffee in Yemen? Fresh content delivered every week. 17.6oz - 500g; 1.4 Yemen Microlot Coffee (Dark, 12 oz Whole Bean); 1.5 Al Mokha: The World's First Coffee. And though his plight drew the attention of global media—inspiring our own deep dig into the history of coffee of Yemen—it was what Alkhanshali carried in two briefcases that brought him to the attention of Blue Bottle Coffee founder James Freeman: high-quality Yemeni coffee. The coffee—Yemen Hayma Hussein al-Haba—sells for $65 for six ounces online and in stores for $16 a cup, paired with an informational pamphlet and a sesame cardamom cookie inspired by one of Alkhanshari’s great-grandmother’s recipes. The liquid energized him, and ultimately, news of the drink won him freedom and sainthood.No matter how brewed coffee came to be known, Sufi monks were drinking a version of it by the fifteenth century to aid in nighttime devotions. After that first cup, I started going to the coffee classes they held on Sundays. To do this, they must build the supply-chain infrastructure from the ground up. More so, how does it help the way we in the West understand Yemen as a country? Those early bags had this thick, beautiful fruit and I developed a lot of affection for Yemeni coffee. Every bag of Blue Bottle coffee comes with a story. Back in America, James Freeman, of Blue Bottle coffee, was among the first to taste the beans Alkhanshali had carried out of Yemen. 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