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In praise of Yemeni coffee


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Here's a fascinating article I stumbled across that offers some insight into Yemeni Coffee

Although popular myth suggests that Ethiopia is the "birthplace of coffee" the coffee bushes themselves appear to have originated in Yemen. Consumption of brewed coffee may well have first begun there as well. But it's so far back in the fog of early recorded history that the evidence isn't clear enough to confrim this.

Have you tried a real Yemeni coffee on its own? Most people have unknowingly tried some either as a small component of a good espresso blend or as one half of the world's most famous and most classic blend: Mocha-Java.

The "mocha" portion that makes up 50% of this blend is actually Yemeni "Moka" and described as such because the flavor profile has some subtle hints of chocolate. Drink a good Yemeni coffee as a straight varietal and you're more likley to find yourself using terms such as "wild... winey.... earthy". It's not for the faint hearted who look for a mellow, smooth and well balanced flavor profile but it's a fascinating coffee.

The high cost of making a true classic Mocha Java blend (50% Yemeni and 50% Indonesian Sulawesi or Sumatran) often leads roasters and retailers to use 50% each of the cheapest Ethiopian and Indonesian beans they can source. But try the '"real thing" you'll taste the difference.

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Perhaps you'll know the answers for these questiosn about coffee in Yemeni culture

1) Is there a tradition or ritual associated with the preparation and consumption of coffee in the home (i.e. somethign analagous to the Ethiopian cogffee ceremony)

2) What is the typical method of preparation? Turkish style in an Ibrik or something else?

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I couldn't tell you about the ritual, all the times I had coffee in a yeminite household it was with people who had been born to emigrants and were younger, so they drank the coffee, but didn't follow a ritual, but that doesn't mean that there isn't one.

typically cooked like turkish coffee, without a filtering mechanism, let to semi-settle, and then poured through a long spout.

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typically cooked like turkish coffee, without a filtering mechanism, let to semi-settle, and then poured through a long spout.

Sounds much like the Ethiopian prepartion method which includes a clay pot with a long snout. And it was the best coffee I've ever had.

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Interesting that, when discussing the decline of coffee production in Yemen, the article doesn't make much about qat. I've read that a huge percentage of Yemeni land formerly used for growing coffee has been turned over to growing qat: they grow in the same places, and qat is much easier (and when there's a coffee glut, more profitable) to grow.

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Interesting that, when discussing the decline of coffee production in Yemen, the article doesn't make much about qat. 

Actually they do mention but only very briefly and not int he context of hwo current production is affected

Without sufficient investment Yemeni coffee was unable to compete with the prices set by large international companies. Farmers began to abandon coffee as a crop, turning to qat and fruit production.

There's a substantial amount of qat grown in Ethiopia as well and we may see reduced plantings there as well if the specialty coffee market does not rebound. It wold be tragic to see some of the Yemini and Ethiopian strains become endangered or disappear. These are really our heirloom coffees - the oldest and wildest strains and those from which most others have been developed.

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