Region: Al-Durrar, Sana’a Governorate
Producer: Ahmed Subeih
Altitude: 7,700 Feet
Variety: Udaini (heirloom Typica)
Vibrant and complex with flavors of apple, clove, tangerine, and pie crust.
We are pleased to present, for the second year in a row, a coffee that was brought to us through our friends at Port of Mokha, an up-and-coming coffee importer focused on specialty coffee from Yemen. Several years ago, Equator was introduced to Mokhtar Alkhanshali, a Bay Area based, Yemeni-American coffee entrepreneur who was actively working with coffee farmers in Yemen. His goal is to educate coffee producers so that they can improve quality and help establish connections between farmers and roasters.
This time we are featuring a single-farmer micro-lot from Al-Durrar, an area within the Sana’a growing region. With a total production of just 800 pounds, micro-lot may be too generous a term for this coffee. Towering a stunning 7,700 feet above sea level, Al-Durrar is made up of thousand-year-old villages where coffee has been farmed on terraces for countless generations. During the monsoon season, mist and rain clouds bring the moisture needed for the survival of coffee in one of the driest and most difficult places to grow it. Farmers meticulously hand pick only ripe cherries and dry them on raised beds, which results in an array of fruity flavors in the cup.
Since growers in Al-Durrar began working with Port of Mokha a few years ago, hundreds of other community members have begun participating in specialty coffee production. One benefit of this new focus is the removal of qat (or khat,) a plant with leaves that contain an amphetamine-like stimulant. In the first year working in the region, farmers removed 14,000 qat trees to make room for coffee, and many more have been removed since.
In the past, offers from Yemen often showed flavors of dry wood, which can be an indication that the coffee is old. Coffee producers in Yemen have been known to hold on to their coffee as a form of currency, only selling when cash is needed. This practice and the tradition of blending many small lots together to form exportable quantities, leads to inconsistency within given lots. At its best, coffee from Yemen can be like this micro-lot -- sweet, fruit-forward, exhibiting the classic winey flavor the origin is known for.