Since my first sip I've always sought out Yemen Mokha. It was always
difficult to find one that lived up to my expectations... and now
that I'm more familiar with the Yemeni landscape I've begun to
Mokha [or Mocha, or Moka] is
not a growing region. Mokha is a port city on the Arabian peninsula,
and it's served as a hub for coffee transport since the sixth
century. [Yemen itself is the first place outside of Ethiopia where
coffee was cultivated.] As the Mokha mark has historically been
given to *any* coffee that claimed this port as its own, a lot of
non-Yemeni coffees have found their way here--often trekked great
distances over land--as the prized Mokha mark would add
significantly to the price their coffee would fetch.
Today's brokers have
eliminated much of nonsense associated with the overland trade, and
regional marks have added another layer of identity to these
coffees. The Sana' designation marks this as a coffee grown around
the capital city of Sanaa, a mountainous area in the west of Yemen.
Yemeni coffees tend to
polarize people who taste them into two camps... you love them, or
you don't. They're notoriously wild--earthy and winey, pungent and occasionally
fruity. This crop of Sana'ani is all of that. Its spicy
fragrance hints of what's to come, but the aromatics of the brewed
cup--ah!--fruity and floral and rich with promise.
At first sip this cup offers
flavors of tobacco, and earthy bitter walnut, followed with a winey
tannic astringency. As the cup cools, however, lighter fruity notes
appear--peach and hints of melon. At darker roasts the pungent
flavors hint of wood and chocolate, and the fruitiness ripens to
currant and black cherry.
Despite its popular pairing
with Java, this Mokha is not without its own body, though its not
the rounded stuff of an Indonesian. It's body is light, its
mouthfeel just slightly syrupy. It's finish, however, is
How can such a big, big
flavor come from such a tiny little bean? Idunno, but it can be
overpowering at a light roast... and besides, this coffee
really comes into to its own at Full City. Take it just a snap or
two into second crack to develop a riot of aromas... add more heat
for more chocolate, but try to keep a light touch.