This coffee was sourced through Fatoum Muslot, daughter of long time Yemeni exporter Ali Hebah Muslot. She opened her own coffee export business in 2015. Fatoum’s long term goals are to improve the standard of living for her coffee growing community while restoring Yemeni coffee cultivation to a standard close to the old days.
Mocha Harazi coffee is grown in Manakha, a district belonging to the greater region of Sana’a on steep mountainside terraces and valleys reaching 2200 masl. Only a small percent of Yemen is suitable for agriculture due to the arid environment. It is common to see exceptionally constructed stone wall terraces, which is a traditional agricultural technique to mitigate runoff and prevent soil erosion. As much as we know, Sana’a is one of the oldest continuously populated cities and the largest producer of coffee in comparison to other regions of Yemen.
Coffee’s earliest migration can be traced back from the dense forests of Western Ethiopia across the Red Sea to the Arabian Peninsula, specifically Yemen, in the 15th century. This is when & where coffee drinking culture began as we know it. Initially it’s thought that the skin of the fruit was boiled in water yielding a tea-like elixir that allowed the Sufi Monks to pray through the night. It’s also commonly thought that one of the Sufi monks roasted raw coffees beans, ground and brewed in a clay vessel—the first cup of coffee in the Port of Mokha—sometime around 1400 AD. Ethiopia birthed it. Yemen raised it. After close to a century of exclusive cultivation European “explorers” smuggled coffee seed from the country and began proliferating them across their colonized worlds hence the advent of large scale plantation style production in India & Indonesia. The coffee world has dramatically changed since these times as has Yemen.
Political instability at the turn of the last decade has led to civil war since. It’s thought that more than half of the country’s population is now without reliable sources of food and water. As much as 10% of the population is displaced entirely. Coffee production has plummeted from 65,000 tons in the 1950’s to roughly 9,000 tons currently; from being on top of the coffee producing world in the mid-20th century to being close to the bottom now. Yemen is in a rough situation.