DISCOVERING YEMENI COFFEE – Sea Island Coffee

DISCOVERING YEMENI COFFEE

Sea Island has carefully sourced the very best Yemeni coffees produced under the famous White Camel brand by Ahmed Alhamdani. Grown high on the narrow terraces of the rugged Yemini mountains the four White Camel varietals SananiMattariHirazi and Ismaili, join Sea Island Coffee’s staple Yemeni coffee, the Haraz Mountain Mocha.

Yemen is the first country in the world to cultivate coffee commercially. Formal cultivation of coffee in terraced fields started in Yemen in the 1300’s. Yemeni coffee is cultivated and processed today in the same way as it has been for centuries. Terrace grown, hand picked and then sun dried on high rooftops to reveal the coffee beans within. The coffee is grown in conflict free zones and helps bring much needed capital to the farmers in the currently war torn country.

Yemen and coffee has a long and significant history together, dating back to the 17th century when the tiny port of Al-Makha, in Yemen, was where coffee was introduced to the world. It all started with Portuguese sailors arriving at the Mocha port, fatigued and in need of a pick me up. They were offered a hot black beverage, which proved to be such a success that the sailors brought a few sacks of green coffee back to Europe. This lead to the port of Mocha becoming the exclusive port of shipping of coffee to Europe throughout the 17th and 18th Century, the town booming from being a small fishing port to the only commercial coffee trade port to Europe for 200 years.

Although it was the port of Al-Makha that gave birth to the coffee name Mocha, this was never where Yemeni coffee was grown. The coffee was and still is grown in the rough Yemeni mountains, such as the Haraz Mountains. At an altitude up to 3000 metres and with fertile soil and the terraces that the coffee grown on protected from the harsh sun by the mountains and receiving plenty of rainfall, it has made the conditions superb for coffee growing. The coffee, including the coffees produce by White Camel, are still cultivated the same way as they were 400 years ago, and the coffee grown in Yemen has a very distinct cup profile.

In general Yemen Mocha coffee has a very distinct taste compared to other coffees. The general taste profile is that of a nutty, malty coffee with a chocolaty aftertaste. It’s a very smooth yet spicy cup. Each region will of course add a more distinct set of taste notes.

The White Camel Mattari, named after the Bani Matter area, is the most renowned Yemen coffee and has a very fragrant, acidic and complex cup. The Hirazi and the Ismaili, also part of the White Camel brand, both have a very similar cup profile to the Mattari but with a lighter cup. Sanani, from White Camel is slightly different from the other 3 White Camel coffees in the sense that is made from a mixture of beans from several regions west of the capital of Sana’a, this make the cup profile more balanced and less acidic then the Mattari, Hirazi and Ismaili.