betides the coffee snob who cannot
distinguish between a caffe latte and a café
au lait. Imagine the shame of confusing Kalossi with Kona, or
with your humble Columbian. Even the
well-informed may not know that Mocha is a
generic term for several aristocratic Yemeni
coffees, not just a coffee house cocktail.
taking a friend’s two teenage daughters to
school, I stop at Coffee Heaven where the
girls order a Quad Kahlua Kicker: two double
shots of espresso with vanilla, Irish cream,
and steamed milk sprinkled with chocolate.
Other coffee drinks are just as exotic.
There is the 911: espresso topped with house
coffee. The Redneck Latte: house coffee with
two sugars, whipped cream, and chocolate
sprinkles. How about an 000: decaf skinny
Latte. New Age Rice Dream Mocha: non-dairy
brown rice beverage with powdered chocolate
and a single or double espresso.
an old port in
. In the sixteenth century, exports from
Mocha included fruits, cloth, spices, dyes,
pottery, and most importantly, coffee, grown
in the Yemeni mountains – the latest craze
. Soon after the English and Dutch built the
first coffee factory in Mocha, other
Europeans followed and even some Americans.
During that time
had a world monopoly on coffee beans and the
country prospered. Eventually, however, the
plant was smuggled out of the country to
) and Java, hence, Mocha-Java.
story tells of the Portuguese seaman who
anchored off the shores of Mocha where the
local Sheik greeted them with an
invigorating and stimulating effect of the
drink. They requested sacks of the green
beans to take home and thus, the story goes,
the monopoly was finally broken as the
coffee bean started to grow in other parts
of the world.
original Mocha bean was transplanted, it
mutated, adapted, became bastardized, and so
only resembles the delicate grandeur of the
has the name, but we in
have the flavor,” says Mr. Kaid, owner of
the only coffee factory in all of
. The home of the original coffee bean is
waiting to be rediscovered.
is one of the world’s oldest inhabited
regions. Here the Queen of Sheba started her
long journey across the
to meet King Solomon in the north. Early
explorers such as Marco Polo visited
, known then as “Arabia Felix,” where
frankincense, myrrh, and Mocha coffee
brought worldwide fame to
. Legend has it that after consuming
quantities of this brew, Marco Polo sped off
to discover spaghetti.
Yemeni coffee boom reached its climax at the
beginning of the 18th century.
Prices had risen so much that the European
powers were now trying to contravene the
export embargo on the coffee plant and grow
coffee in their own colonies. The Dutch
succeeded first, around 1720 in Java,
followed by the French in the
. Later a number of other coffee growing
countries started to grow the Mocha-derived
coffee beans much more cheaply and in larger
the middle of the 19th century,
supplied only 1 percent of the world coffee
production. Since then
’s chief agricultural product has been
quat, which has replaced some of the income
lost from their dying coffee industry. This
evergreen (Catha edulis and Catha spinosa)
is cultivated for its shoots and chewed as a
stimulant. It is grown interspersed with
coffee trees in plantations.
restoration of the coffee trade is on many
Yemeni’s minds. They want to see the mocha
coffee plants fill the mountains once more
and get rid of what some call “Satan’s
green leaves.” This is exactly what Mr.
Kaid and his families are doing. Their
coffee beans come from the fertile terraces
of the Western Yemeni mountains, which reach
elevations of more than 9.000 feet.
in the past, the best coffee is grown there
on rain-fed terraces. The method of
cultivating is still the same as it was 300
years ago. The soil is prepared by hand, and
each tree is taken care of individually
using stone mulch.
family has a long-standing tradition in
selecting and treating coffee beans. We
combine traditional methods with modern
machinery. This is our family’s secret and
why the aroma of our coffee beans is
outstanding among all coffee brands,” says
Mr. Kaid. Today their coffee is exported to
?” I asked.
? Americans are not familiar with our
coffee; they don’t even know that my
country exists. Americans run around all day
with a gigantic Styrofoam cup filled with
sludge,” he sneered.
you heard of the New Age Dream Mocha?” I
the world’s first coffee drinkers, the
Middle Eastern Muslims, coffee was the
“Wine of the Apollo.” It was their
counterpart to the pagan wine of Dionysus,
and ecstasy. Today’s Western coffee
connoisseurs critique an excellent coffee
with the same exactitude as a vintage wine.
what is the best coffee?
to the Kobos Coffee Company, the most exotic
, Kona, and Yemeni. How is the Yemeni coffee
sells very slowly; most people have never
heard of it,” said David, from Coffee
Brothers responded, “
? Never heard of it.”
asked the Good Bean Company, “Do you
consider your shop to be a gourmet coffee
We carry coffee beans from all over the
world,” Matt answered. “Do you have
Yemeni coffee beans?” I’ve never heard
of them,” he responded.
is the most exotic coffee you carry?” I
really couldn’t tell you. That is
this the wave of the future? Will coffee
information become the new currency of
whose revolutionary history is founded on an
argument about tea, might be expected to wax
passionate on the subtleties of the mighty