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Coffee: Articles: Yippity Yemeni!

Yemen Mokha Sana'ani, 2001 Crop

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 discover why. 

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 fleeting.     

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.

-deCadmus, July 10, 2001

See also:
Sweet Maria's