Barren hillside with a small village in the background

Yemeni Coffee is Here!

July 13, 2018 0 Comments

What do you think of when you hear the country of Yemen mentioned? Some of you more cultured folks will think of this:

But if you were born later than 2000 you most likely only know about Yemen because of the constant civil war that has raged on for several years. Despite the battles, there are some coffee farmers still dedicated to producing some amazing coffees and we're so excited to be a small part of that work by partnering with Rayyan Coffee Mills based in Sana'a, Yemen. Here's a little bit about Yemen's coffee history and Rayyan Mill.

Soon after the discovery of coffee in Ethiopia, the coffee shrub made its way to Yemen where it was written about by the mystic Sufis as far back as the 15th century. As the cultivation of coffee increased in Yemen exporting began from the ancient port of Al-Makha (it is to this port the modern term “Mocha” traces its origin.) Soon raw beans were smuggled out of Yemen and these Yemen coffee beans gave birth to what we see today as multiple varietals of coffee grown all over the world. But Yemen coffee has remained unique...

A terraced coffee farm in western Yemen

The uniqueness of Yemen coffee can be attributed to the uniqueness of Yemen itself. Yemen coffee developed through the centuries isolated from the offspring of those smuggled beans that gave birth to coffee in the rest of the world. In Yemen coffee is traditionally grown at high elevations in difficult environments receiving little rainfall. As a result the varietals that developed in Yemen had to survive a harsh climate. They are the result of centuries of adaptation to these unique conditions - thus the varietals themselves are unique to Yemen. In addition, the added stress of these conditions on the plants increases the amount of nutrients and sugars pushed to the cherries which ultimately increases cup complexity. Due to the lack of rainfall, Yemen coffee has always been sun-dried (natural) further increasing the sweetness of the cup. Ultimately Yemen coffee and its history are much like Yemen itself: mysterious, intriguing and complex.

Yemeni Coffee Farmers

Unfortunately coffee production in Yemen has declined significantly over the last few decades. The foundational problem in recent years is a lack of understanding between the coffee people of Yemen and the specialty coffee market.

The folks at Rayyan Coffee Mill established their sourcing, processing and exporting operation to combat this very problem. They believe that Yemen has a unique place in the history of coffee and has a lot to offer both the specialty coffee market and the people of Yemen. In the words of general manager and co- founder Andrew Nicholson, “We want to make Yemen coffee famous again. By focusing on cup quality everyone wins. Customers get an amazing coffee, farmers (and everyone else in the supply chain) earn more and maybe, just maybe more coffee will be planted and that could have a tremendous effect on Yemen’s economy!”

Work at the mill

Their commitment to cup quality, farm level interventions, good processing methods and relentless quality control coupled with their relationships with hundreds of farmers (and many others in the supply chain) in Yemen make Rayyan a strong bridge between the Yemen coffee people and the specialty coffee market.

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