Every culture has its craft. There is Japanese washi paper, Indian silk fabrics and Persian carpets. In Yemen, it’s coffee.Nothing represents the uniqueness of this country better than the history of the coffee trade and the age-old tradition of the coffee farmers.
When asked who claims the greater claim to the origin of the coffee, Yemen or Ethiopia, you will certainly get different answers. It appears that the plant was first cultivated in Ethiopia, but it is also known that the drink was matured in neighboring Yemen.
Coffee’s history stretches back centuries, and to unravel its roots one must wade through murky records and fantastical myths. We know that in the 15th century Sufi monks in Yemen began growing, drinking and producing coffee for trade.Over time, Yemenis refined their use of their country’s unique climate and terrain to produce a distinctive and flavorful coffee. Yemeni coffee soon became the focus of economic, historical and cultural changes that are still reverberating around the world today.
Coffee became a central object of commerce, social interaction, and even religious devotion. Its consumption led to the emergence of “coffee shops” back then, becoming a new export commodity for Yemen and even a powerful stimulant for Muslim monks during their prayers. The impact has not always been positive, however, and Yemeni coffee has also been the subject of controversial bans, spoils of war, and even inspired robbery and espionage.
From Al-Makha to Mocca
The history of Yemeni coffee took place particularly in the famous port city of Al-Makha. Under the rule of the Ottoman Empire, Yemen refined and carefully guarded its precious caffeinated product.
Sell living coffee plants or even seeds?
No, impossible! This enabled the Yemenis to establish a worldwide monopoly on the coffee trade around this somewhat sleepy port.
The coffee from Al-Makha was initially referred to simply as mocha coffee, a name that originally had little to do with the chocolatey coffee drink you can buy today.
However, Yemen could not keep its secrets forever: Dutch traders finally managed to get their hands on a live coffee plant. Within a few decades, coffee plantations were established beyond the borders of Yemen and the Ottoman Empire.The connection of the port of Al-Makha with the Indonesian island of Java also resulted in one of the oldest and most famous coffee blends in the world, the Mocca Java.
And as coffee production increased worldwide, Yemen’s trade monopoly slowly dwindled, as did the city of Al-Makha.
Although the rest of the world has gradually caught up with Yemen in terms of coffee cultivation and production, Yemen has made an impressive name for itself in the world of specialty coffee. The wild and unmistakable taste of its beans is unique and continues to tempt connoisseurs.
Maybe it’s because the Yemeni farmers still go about their work today as if nothing had changed in the last 400 years.
There is no debate about manual versus machine harvesting here. For Yemenis, the only way suitable for the coffee growing on the rugged mountain peaks is 100% natural, selective harvesting and dry processing.
There is something special about drinking a cup of mocha coffee. It’s a caffeinated pick-me-up, a step back in time, and a reminder of culturally-enlightening craft all rolled into one.
Mocca coffee is a World Heritage Site and a term with a lot of meaning for true coffee lovers. Therefore, the mocha should not be missing from our roasts. A piece of history that, with every sip, reminds us lovers of how coffee came to Europe, and eventually to the whole world. It is usually drunk black and is characterized by a full and strong body.
For centuries it has been prepared and enjoyed the same way: in a metal jug with a good layer of lees. If desired, it can be sweetened while brewing — to give it a slightly caramelized taste.
The Mocca from NABER can also be wonderfully prepared in a Bialetti or classic espresso machine.