You may have heard of Yemen on the news, but sadly not always for the happiest of reasons. However, this war-torn state, that sits on the South Western tip of the Arabian Peninsula has an amazing culinary history. In particular, it is famous for its coffee - Yemen is largely understood as the birthplace of drinking coffee and is home to some of the most expensive and sought-after coffee in the world.
Sufi monks in Yemen were the first to cultivate coffee plants and brew the beans over 500 years ago. Then as now, the beans were grown in the mountainous Western region of the country and shipped from the port of Mokha - where the mocha coffee name comes from. The beans have been famous throughout history for their unique flavour which comes, in part, from the unique way that they are processed.
But why are we hearing about Yemeni coffee now? Well, there are a few reasons. Firstly, we have to talk about third wave coffee. This movement, which prioritise taste quality, unique flavours, and equitable relationships over low prices and flavours standardisation. Yemeni coffee is the ultimate expression of third wave coffee as it has a remarkable history, as well as a unique and recognisable flavour profile.
All About The Bean
Well, enough about the history, production and politics of Yemeni coffee, what does it actually taste like and why does it taste that way? Well, as we said before, the unique flavour is in part down to the genetic variety and in part down to the production method. Genetically the bean is part of the Bourbon variety of Arabica coffee which is know for their deep, buttery chocolate flavours, as well as their sweetness and very light fruit overtones. These flavours are enhanced by the drying method of production.