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Yemen

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Yemen Mokha Harasi

Harasi is a coffee from the district adjacent to Ismaili, and in fact they merge to some degree. If you travel west on the road from the capital Sana'a, toward Hodeidah on the Red Sea, you will pass quite close to Harazi, as I did when traveling to Yemen a couple years back. I visited an amazing zone within Harazi with towering, ancient stone villages, like castles precariously perched atop steep precipice. It was incredibly dramatic. All the coffee here is grown on terraces, since little land exists that is flat, except for the lowland deserts. The coffee is hauled up remarkably steep slopes, carried in small amounts, most often by donkey. This is an interesting flavor profile for Yemen too (well, they all are...) but very clean, and I fear a bit disappointing for those who want Yemeni coffee to always taste like goat hides. It doesn't, and we won't buy those ratty Yemeni coffees that come from the South. Relative to other Yemeni coffees, this cup is clean, sweetly fruited, and potent.

The dry fragrance intense rustic sweet spice notes, allspice, clove and paprika, layered with fruit notes of banana, natural dried apricot, and mango. Darker roasts have molasses and aromatic wood notes (sandalwood scent) at FC+. The light roast cups a bit milder at first than one might anticipate from Yemeni coffees, but intensifies greatly as it cools. As it cools, more dried fruit notes emerge, like the real health-food store (unsulphered) dried apricot and peaches, with a hint of chai spice tea, earth and rustic woody notes. The finish has a pipe tobacco aspect and there is a dusting of cocoa; the body is quite viscous. The darker roasts are less sweet and more pungent in aroma, and less complex; sharply intense roasty flavors overtake the mild fruited tones. FC+ roasts are considerably less sweet. I did some test roasts specifically for single-origin (SO) espresso as soon as I realized what a balanced sweetness it had. Single-origin Yemen espresso has always finished too hidey, leathery, dusty-dirty for me. I knew right off this coffee, with it's clean cup character, Harasi had incredible SO espresso potential. Note that Yemeni coffees need rest after roasting. They have more aromatics at 24 hours rest, but really develop body and balance at 72+ hours of rest after roasting. This is even more true for espresso uses. While there are a few quakers in this coffee, it is a very low number for Yemeni coffee, or for any dry-processed coffee, really.



This coffee is part of our direct trade Farm Gate pricing transparency program.

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Boy and donkey (which hauls coffee up the steep slopes), Harazi.
Country: Yemen
Grade: n/a
Region: Harazi District
Processing: Dry Processed
Arrival Date: June 2011 Arrival
Appearance: .8 d/300gr, 15-16 Screen
Varietal: Heirloom Yemen Moka Seedstock
Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium-Bold intensity / Rustic sweetness, fruits, spices
Roast: City+ to FC+ to Vienna � there's a very different cup character between light and dark roasts. Read the review. It needs proper resting either way!
Compare to: Intense, complex and wild cup. Harasi seems milder than other Yemeni coffees, but becomes intense and complex as it cools. SO espresso is interesting.
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Yemen Mokha Ismaili

Ismaili is a "fabled" origin. Even in Yemen, in a local market in Sana'a, the spice-tea-qishr-coffee vendor told me his green beans (much of it broken "triage" coffee, mixed with cardomom pods) was truly special. "It's Ismaili coffee, " he said. I didn't mention that I slept on the floor of a villagers house the night before, in the mind-boggling vertical mountains of Ismaili, a landscape etched in stone with ancient terraces lined with ghat and coffee trees. The cup has always had a big spicy character, not the fruitiest Yemen coffee but perhaps the most balanced. It's amazing, with all the strife in Yemen, we were even able to get coffee exported this year. But here it is, and it is cupping really well.

The dry fragrances from the Ismaili is closely tied to roast level. Light roast have a very sweet chocolate-dipped banana scent, whereas Full City roast has a much darker chocolate bittersweet, with traces of caramel. The wet aromatics have less fruit and more intense chocolate character, laced with spice. There is clove and allspice with a bit of ginger, while the darker roast (FC+) is very pungent and intense, with suggestions of sarsaparilla and anise. Ismaili are not fruity-bright Yemens but there are some interesting berry aroma hints in the medium roast. At C+ roast the first flavors to emerge are milk chocolate and spices: fresh ginger root, a zest of pepper, anise. That banana/ banana skin note from the fragrance emerges as the cup cools down a bit. At FC+ it's a different beast: intense bittersweet pungent notes, dark herbs, Chai and "roastaroma tea", licorice root, cinnamon bark, clove, some black walnut, and spiced chocolate. The body seemed heavy, but I think it is actually deceptively light and perhaps it has to do with the intensity of cup flavors as it cools. The Ismaili makes great Single Origin (SO) espresso. Note that Yemeni coffees need rest after roasting. They have more aromatics at 12 hours or 24 hours, but really develop at 72+ hours of rest after roasting. This is even more true for espresso. The SO espresso was very intense and complex. With Ismaili it's fun to try a melange of 1/3 City+ roast and 2/3 FC or FC+ roast, either for drip or espresso.



This coffee is part of our direct trade Farm Gate pricing transparency program.

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Ismaili boy, with coffee trees in the background
Country: Yemen
Grade: n/a
Region: Ismaili
Processing: Natural Dry Processed
Arrival Date: May 2011 Arrival GrainPro
Appearance: .8 d/300gr, 15-16 Screen
Varietal: Heirloom Yemen Seedstock
Intensity/Prime Attribute: Bold intensity / Spice notes, chocolate, banana
Roast: City+ to Full City+ to light Vienna roast.
Compare to: Ismaili is a sweet, spicy, herbal, earthy, intense cup, not as bright and fruited as some other Yemeni coffees. Highly recommended for SO espresso!
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Yemen Mokha Sharasi

Sharasi is a coffee from north of the capital city Sana'a, and a region I had never heard of before traveling to Yemen in November. But when we cupped the separated regional lots, lots normally blended to for the generic "Sana'ani" coffee, it was clear what Sharasi was contributing to the mix; clean sweet fruited flavors. What arrived here in the container of small-lots that resulted from the November '07 trip is a bit different from what we cupped there, more muted, lower in general tonality. But it keeps with the same theme; rustic sweet fruited notes, and quite "clean" in flavor for a Yemeni coffee. Since then we have offered Sharasi each year, as it always cups with a unique character, and often is the highest scoring of the Yemeni coffees as well.

The dry fragrance has strong sweetness in the light roast, sorghum syrup sweetness, slight winey fruits, with dried apricot. It shifts with darker roast levels, turning to aromatic wood notes (sandalwood scent) at FC+. There's a tons of fruit (winey grape notes, a bit of dried mango too) in the wet aroma, with sweet rye bread and butterscotch. Darker roasts are more pungent in aroma, "noir" in character, intense and less delicate. There's spicy star anise notes, sassafras, and cinnamon stick. All these aromatics give a pretty good hint of the cup flavors. The light roast cups a bit milder at first than one might anticipate from Yemeni coffees, but intensifies greatly as it cools. As with the aroma, the light roast cup is heavily fruited with dried apricot and red apple. There's a bit of butterscotch and cocoa nibs, somewhat rooty sweetness, herbs, chocolates. As it cools, more dried fruit notes emerge, like the real health-food store (unsulphered) dried apricot flavor. Sharasi at City+ roast is about as sweet as a Yemeni coffee gets. Darker roasts are complex but less sweet. But pull an SO Espresso shot of an FC+ roast and those apple-and-apricot fruit flavors re-emerge. Note that Yemeni coffees need rest after roasting. They have more aromatics at 12 hours or 24 hours, but really develop at 72+ hours of rest after roasting. This is even more true for SO Sharasi espresso. I did some test roasts specifically for SO espresso as soon as I realized what a balanced sweetness it had. Single-origin Yemen espresso from the usual exporters has always finished too hidey, leathery, dusty-dirty for me. But Sharasi works.



This coffee is part of our direct trade Farm Gate pricing transparency program.

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A coffee trader's son in a Sana coffee warehouse, from my last trip there.
Country: Yemen
Grade: n/a
Region: Sharasi, Northern District
Processing: Natural Dry Processed
Arrival Date: May 2011 Arrival GrainPro
Appearance: 1.2 d/300gr, 15-16 Screen
Varietal: Heirloom Yemen Moka Seedstock
Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium-Bold intensity / Rustic sweetness, fruits, spice
Roast: City+ to FC to FC+ … there's a very different cup character between light and dark roasts. It needs proper resting either way.
Compare to: Intense, complex and wild cup. Perhaps Sharasi seems milder than other Yemeni coffees, but becomes intense and complex as it cools. SO espresso is fantastic
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Yemen Mokha Sana'ani

Sana'ani refers to any coffee grown in the high altitudes around the Yemeni capital of Sana'a (also Sana). A Sana'ani coffee is probably a different mix every time you buy it, since the Yemen system involves families selling to local collectors, selling to Sana collectors, then selling to exporters. It's simply the tradition there. This is a pooled Sana'ani lot that happens to be fantastic! This cup has bright fruitiness at the light roasts (City), a winey depth to the acidity, a touch of spice in the cup, and sweet tobacco hints. I love the way this coffee passes through your senses while drinking it: it begins with a burst of spice, cinnamon and clove; as the curtain lifts on the first wave of flavor a light, delicate peach-apricot fruitiness is revealed, and in the end a bit of cinnamon spiciness.

The coffee has a good winey edge and dried peach-apricot fruit character but it will depend on your roast treatment of the coffee: At City+ in an air roaster, you get the maximum bright, fruited, light body cup. Slow down the roast and put it in a drum and the body is more accented (remember to rest the roast 48 hours for increased body) and a bit is taken off the top end. It has great sweet fragrance as dry grounds and wet aromatics, a rustic sweetness. In the long aftertaste, as the heat dissipates, an herbal sweetness emerges, with a clear nutmeg and mulling spice accent. I especially enjoyed light Vienna roast here also, where a dark caramelized sugar sweetness was still present, the fruit had turned broodingly winey.





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Tufahi, one of many local cultivars in the Sana area.
Country: Yemen
Grade: None
Region: Sana'ani
Processing: Natural Dry Processed Skins
Arrival Date: February 2011 Arrival
Appearance: 1.2 d/300gr, 15-16 Screen
Varietal: Heirloom Yemen Seedstock
Intensity/Prime Attribute: Bold Intensity/Exotic spices, dried fruit, rustic sweetness.
Roast: City+ to FC+ Roast or darker. You need to rest Yemens 2 days to allow the body to develop. Then again, cup aromas are best with a short 12-24 hour rest. Be aware of small bean size, and that Yemen produces a large amount of chaff!
Compare to: Intense, complex and wild cup.
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Yemen Mokha Sana'ani Feb 2009

Sana'ani refers to any coffee grown in the high altitudes around the Yemeni capital of Sana'a (also Sana). A Sana'ani coffee is probably a different mix every time you buy it, since the Yemen system involves families selling to local collectors, selling to Sana collectors, then selling to exporters. It's simply the tradition there. We visited in November to explore new ways to buy distinct regional coffees, and those lots start to arrive in March-April. This is NOT one of those lots, this is a pooled Sana'ani, but it also happens to be an excellent lot with a fantastic cup! This cup has bright fruitiness at the light roasts (City) , a winey depth to the acidity, a touch of spice in the cup, and sweet tobacco hints. I love the way this coffee passes through your senses while drinking it: it begins with a burst of spice, cinnamon and clove; as the curtain lifts on the first wave of flavor a light, delicate peach-apricot fruitiness is revealed, and in the end a bit of cinnamon spiciness. The coffee has a good winey edge and dried peach-apricot fruit character but it will depend on your roast treatment of the coffee: At City+ in an air roaster, you get the maximum bright, fruited, light body cup. Slow down the roast and put it in a drum and the body is more accented (remember to rest the roast 48 hours for increased body) and a bit is taken off the top end. It has great sweet fragrance as dry grounds and wet aromatics, a rustic sweetness that I have not seen in a Yemen in a long time. In the long aftertaste, as the heat dissipates, an herbal sweetness emerges, with a clear nutmeg and mulling spice accent. I especially enjoyed light Vienna roast here also, where a dark caramelized sugar sweetness was still present, the fruit had turned broodingly winey.





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Castle-like town in Yemen from my last trip there...
Country: Yemen
Grade: None
Region: Sana'ani
Processing: Natural Dry Processed Skins
Arrival Date: February 2009 Arrival
Appearance: 1.2 d/300gr, 15-16 Screen
Varietal: Heirloom Yemen Seedstock
Intensity/Prime Attribute: Bold Intensity/Exotic spices, dried fruit, rustic sweetness.
Roast: City+ to FC+ Roast or darker. You need to rest Yemens 2 days to allow the body to develop. Then again, cup aromas are best with a short 12-24 hour rest. Be aware of small bean size, and that Yemen produces a large amount of chaff!
Compare to: Intense, complex and wild cup.
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Yemen Mokha Ismaili 2010

Ismaili is a "fabled" origin. Even in Yemen, in a local market in Sana'a, the spice-tea-qishr-coffee vendor told me his green beans (much of it broken "triage" coffee, mixed with cardomom pods) was truly special. "It's Ismaili coffee, " he said. I didn't mention that I slept on the floor of a villagers house the night before, in the mind-boggling vertical mountains of Ismaili, a landscape etched in stone with ancient terraces lined with ghat and coffee trees. The dry fragrances from the Ismaili (at 3 different roast levels) is a bit rocky, and it takes me a minute to adjust, to wrap my mind around these extreme and exotic smells; leather, dried herbs, dusty sweetness, caramel, spice, aromatic sandalwood and ginseng. The wet aromatics have clove and allspice with a bit of ginger, while the darker roast (FC+) is very pungent and intense, with suggestions of sarsaparilla and anise. Later there are some interesting sweet notes that come out, traces of butterscotch (C+) and syrupy plum wine (FC+).

Ismaili are not fruity-bright Yemens but there are some interesting berry aroma hints in the medium roast. At C+ roast the first flavors to emerge are spices: fresh ginger root, a zest of pepper, anise. I like the darker roast levels better: At FC+ it's a different beast: bittersweet pungent notes, dark herbs, Chai and "roastaroma tea" notes, licorice root, cinnamon bark, clove, some black walnut, and spiced chocolate. The body seemed heavy, but I think it is actually deceptively light and perhaps it has to do with the intensity of cup flavors as it cools. The Ismaili makes great Single Origin (SO) espresso. The cup here is more rooty and earthy than the Sharasi, more pungent and extremely long in aftertaste. Note that Yemeni coffees need rest after roasting. They have more aromatics at 12 hours or 24 hours, but really develop at 72+ hours of rest after roasting. This is even more true for espresso. The best espresso I had from Ismaili was a casual experiment; 1/3 of a C+ roast rested for a week (!) and 2/3 of an FC++ roast rested for 36 hours. Fantastic!





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Stone terraces with coffee plants, Ismaili Yemen late '07.
Country: Yemen
Grade: n/a
Region: Ismaili
Processing: Natural Dry Processed
Arrival Date: June 2010 Arrival
Appearance: .8 d/300gr, 15-16 Screen
Varietal: Heirloom Yemen Seedstock
Intensity/Prime Attribute: Bold intensity / Spice notes, brooding bittersweet character.
Roast: Full City, Full City+, Vienna roast �and I also recommend a 50-50 blend of the two roast levels - very interesting!
Compare to: Ismaili is a spicy, herbal, earthy, intense cup, not as bright and fruited as some other Yemeni coffees. Highly recommended for SO espresso!
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Yemen Mokha Sharasi 2010

Sharasi is a coffee from north of the capital city Sana'a, and a region I had never heard of before traveling to Yemen in November. But when we cupped the separated regional lots, lots normally blended to for the generic "Sana'ani" coffee, it was clear what Sharasi was contributing to the mix; clean sweet fruited flavors. What arrived here in the container of small-lots that resulted from the November '07 trip is a bit different from what we cupped there, more muted, lower in general tonality. But it keeps with the same theme; rustic sweet fruited notes, and quite "clean" in flavor for a Yemeni coffee. The dry fragrance has strong sweetness in the light roast, sorghum syrup sweetness with dried apricot fruit, turning to aromatic wood notes (sandalwood scent) at FC+. There's a tons of fruit (mango, jackfruit) in the wet aroma, with sweet rye bread and butterscotch. Darker roasts are more pungent in aroma, "noir" in character, intense and less delicate. There's spicy star anise notes, sassafras, and cinnamon stick. The light roast cups a bit milder at first than one might anticipate from Yemeni coffees, but intensifies greatly as it cools. As with the aroma, the light roast cup is heavily fruited with dried apricot and red apple. There's a bit of butterscotch and cocoa nibs, rooty sweetness, herbs, rustic chocolates. As it cools, more dried fruit notes emerge, like the real health-food store (unsulphered) dried apricot flavor. Darker roasts are more complex but less sweet, but pull a shot of an FC+ roast and those apple-and-apricot fruit flavors re-emerge. Note that Yemeni coffees need rest after roasting. They have more aromatics at 12 hours or 24 hours, but really develop at 72+ hours of rest after roasting. This is even more true for SO Sharasi espresso. I did some test roasts specifically for SO espresso as soon as I realized what a balanced sweetness it had. Single-origin Yemen espresso has always finished too hidey, leathery, dusty-dirty for me. The Yemen crop is small this year, and the prices extremely high, even for mediocre coffees, and higher still for good ones. I feel the Sharasi is really worth offering though, even though we had to pay over $2 more for it than in previous years.



This coffee is part of our direct trade Farm Gate pricing transparency program.

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Dawairi type of locally-adapted Mokha cultivar, showing some drought character.
Country: Yemen
Grade: n/a
Region: Sharasi, Northern District
Processing: Natural Dry Processed
Arrival Date: June 2010 Arrival (Special Lined Bags)
Appearance: 1.2 d/300gr, 15-16 Screen
Varietal: Heirloom Yemen Moka Seedstock
Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium-Bold intensity / Rustic sweetness, fruits, spice
Roast: FC to FC+ … there's a very different cup character between light and dark roasts. It needs proper resting either way.
Compare to: Intense, complex and wild cup. Perhaps Sharasi seems milder than other Yemeni coffees, but becomes intense and complex as it cools. SO espresso is fantastic
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Yemen Mokha Harasi July 2009

Harasi is a coffee from the district adjacent to Ismaili, and in fact they merge to some degree. If you travel west on the road from the capital Sana'a, toward Hodeidah on the Red Sea, you will pass quite close to Harazi, as we did when traveling to Yemen in November. We visited an amazing zone within Harazi with towering, ancient stone villages, like castles precariously perched atop steep precipice. It was incredibly dramatic. All the coffee here is grown on terraces, since little land exists that is flat, except for the lowland deserts. This is an interesting flavor profile for Yemen too (well, they all are...) but very clean, and I fear a bit disappointing for those who want Yemeni coffee to taste like goat hides. It doesn't, and we won't buy those ratty Yemeni coffees that come from the South. But here we have I am not saying this cup is limp, but clean, sweetly fruited, and potent.

Harasi are very high-grown, and quite "clean" for a Yemeni coffee. The dry fragrance has sorghum syrup and banana scent in the light roasts, turning to molasses and aromatic wood notes (sandalwood scent) at FC+. Darker roasts are less sweet and more pungent in aroma, "noir" in character, less delicate. There's anise notes, cinnamon stick, and some dried apple. The light roast cups a bit milder at first than one might anticipate from Yemeni coffees, but intensifies greatly as it cools. The body is opaque, there's a bit of butterscotch, and a dusting of cocoa. As it cools, more dried fruit notes emerge, like the real health-food store (unsulphered) dried apricot and peaches, with a hint of leather and rustic woody notes. I get slight hints of camphor/menthol. Darker roasts are less complex; intense and pungent roasty overtakes the mild fruited tones. FC+ roasts are considerably less sweet. I did some test roasts specifically for single-origin (SO) espresso as soon as I realized what a balanced sweetness it had. Single-origin Yemen espresso has always finished too hidey, leathery, dusty-dirty for me. I knew right off this coffee, with it's clean cup character, had incredible SO espresso potential. Note that Yemeni coffees need rest after roasting. They have more aromatics at 24 hours rest, but really develop body and balance at 72+ hours of rest after roasting. This is even more true for espresso uses.





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The amazing castle-like town of Gart, in Harasi district of Yemen, from my November trip.
Country: Yemen
Grade: n/a
Region: Harazi District
Processing: Dry Processed
Arrival Date: July 2009 Arrival
Appearance: 1.4 d/300gr, 15-16 Screen
Varietal: Heirloom Yemen Moka Seedstock
Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium-Bold intensity / Rustic sweetness at light roast levels, fruits, spice
Roast: C+ to FC+ to Vienna � there's a very different cup character between light and dark roasts. Read the review. It needs proper resting either way!
Compare to: Intense, complex and wild cup. Harasi seems milder than other Yemeni coffees, but becomes intense and complex as it cools. SO espresso is interesting.
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Yemen Mokha Haimi 2009

Haimi is a distinct regional coffee, but has often been sold as Sana'ani since it is geographically contiguous with the area around the capital, Sana'a. Many moons ago, I found a Yemeni exporter willing to separate the Haimi (he refers to it as Haimah: Haimi simply means "of Haimah"). I found it's unique cup character appealing, and it seemed to have a dark sweetness that was distinct from our other Yemeni offerings. Now we are working with another group, and they are finally able to separate Haimi from the Sana'ani coffee. The light roasts are a great contrast from the dark roast treatment here, but both are excellent on their own merits.

The dry fragrance of the City+ roast has an earthy sweetness to the cup, at once caramelly and slightly fruited, later seeming more like light molasses. There are cardamom spice notes and fresh ginger. There is a fresh-leather aromatic in the light roast ... I know that sounds a bit unappealing but it is quite "true" to Yemeni origin character. The lightest roast I did was less intensely "brooding" in the cup than the Full City roast, with chamomile tea character and malty sweetness. I think the darker roast levels appealed to me much more. The Full City+ roast aromatics are much more pungent, black-peppery, with a dark berry-like fruited note; very nice! Darker roasts have a rooty, tangy roast note, and waxy, dense body. At FC roast I found a rustic sweetness and hints of blackberry syrup, which I prize greatly in a Yemeni coffee. Haimi delivers on several levels: it offers the right Yemeni cup experience (a taste-equivalent of an Arabic street bazaar, perhaps), and as a complex, unique cup that is as far from clean, uniform Centrals as you can get. If you want something different from bright, clean, wet-processed coffee, you can't go wrong with a Yemen! And this was the best cup for SO espresso, but at Full City roast, and not roasted into 2nd crack. Proper resting (3 days+) is important for espresso, and can balance out the cup with brewed methods as well.





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Country: Yemen
Grade: n/a
Region: Haimi
Processing: Natural Dry Processed
Arrival Date: June 2009 Arrival
Appearance: 1.2 d/300gr, 15-16 Screen
Varietal: Heirloom Yemen Moka Seedstock
Intensity/Prime Attribute: Bold intensity / Spice notes, darkly sweet, rustic
Roast: C+ to FC+ to Vienna … there's a very different cup character for these two roasts (see review), and I also recommend a 50-50 blend of the two roast levels - very interesting!
Compare to: Intense, complex and wild cup. It is very interesting to cup this directly against generic Sana'ani; both uniquely excellent.
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Yemen Mokha Sharasi 2009

Sharasi is a coffee from north of the capital city Sana'a, and a region I had never heard of before travelling to Yemen last November. But when we cupped the separated regional lots, lots normally blended to for the generic "Sana'ani" coffee, it was clear what Sharasi was contributing to the mix; clean sweet fruited flavors. What arrived here in the container of small-lots that resulted from the November trip is a bit different from what we cupped there, more muted, lower in general tonality. But it keeps with the same theme; rustic sweet fruited notes, and quite "clean" in flavor for a Yemeni coffee. The dry fragrance has sorghum syrup sweetness in the light roasts, turning to aromatic wood notes (sandalwood scent) at FC+. I did some test roasts specifically for SO espresso (Single-origin espresso, i.e. not a blend) as soon as I realized what a balanced sweetness it had. Single-origin Yemen espresso has always finished too hidey, leathery, dusty-dirty for me. I knew right off this lot (and actually all 3 arrival lots) had incredible SO espresso uses. There's a sweet rye bread and butterscotch fragrance in the light roasts, and a hint of molasses. Darker roasts are more pungent in aroma, "noir" in character, intense and less delicate. There's spicy star anise notes, sassafras, and cinnamon stick. The light roast cups a bit milder at first than one might anticipate from Yemeni coffees, but intensifies greatly as it cools. The body is elegant and buttery. There's a bit of butterscotch and cocoa nibs, rooty sweetness, herbs, rustic chocolates. As it cools, more dried fruit notes emerge, like the real health-food store (unsulphered) dried apricot flavor. Darker roasts are more complex and a little sweeter; I found the lightest roasts had a flavor that was too grainy to my taste. But pull a shot of an FC+ roast and those apple-and-apricot fruit flavors re-emerge. Note that Yemeni coffees need rest after roasting. They have more aromatics at 12 hours or 24 hours, but really develop at 72+ hours of rest after roasting. This is even more true for espresso.





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Dawairi type of locally-adapted Mokha cultivar, showing some drought character.
Country: Yemen
Grade: n/a
Region: Sharasi, Northern District
Processing: Natural Dry Processed
Arrival Date: June 2009 Arrival
Appearance: 1.0 d/300gr, 15-16 Screen
Varietal: Heirloom Yemen Moka Seedstock
Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium-Bold intensity / Rustic sweetness, fruits, spice
Roast: FC to FC+ … there's a very different cup character between light and dark roasts. It needs proper resting either way.
Compare to: Intense, complex and wild cup. Perhaps Sharasi seems milder than other Yemeni coffees, but becomes intense and complex as it cools. SO espresso is fantastic
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Yemen Mokha Mattari

Bani Mattar is one of the few coffees from the growing regions surrounding the high-altitudes of Sana'a that was traditionally kept separate. All others were mixed to form "Sana'ani coffee" with decidedly mixed outcomes. But coffee in Bani Mattar is a bit different, tall old-growth trees than appear like a fruit orchard than a typical coffee farm (well, NO coffee production in Yemen looks like a coffee farm anywhere else!) When I traveled in Yemen last November, the Mattari coffees where not ready to cup yet, it was too early in the harvest. And after we were stranded in a mountain town in Ismaili overnight, our itinerary to visit Bani Mattar was disrupted. Yet when our shipment of coffees that were a direct result of the trip finally arrived at the Port of Oakland, the Mattari was a real standout coffee. The Sharasi was delicate and sweet, the Ismaili was appropriately spiced, earthy ... the Mattari was a very complete cup with unique winey tones. It was impressive. The dry fragrance has striking mature fruit character from the get-go. At C+ it has red grape, and even some hints of ripe red grapefruit. With Full City+ the fruit is still present, but somewhat eclipsed by dark chocolate roast tones. There's maple syrup sweetness in the wet aroma, and a trace of mango in the lighter roasts. The body seems thick and velvety, and overall this cup has a very deep, hushed range. After comparing the Mattari side by side to the Ismaili and Sharasi (as well as several others that did not meet our mark) this dark fruited sweetness is so apparent. Note that Yemeni coffees need rest after roasting. They have more aromatics at 12 hours or 24 hours, but really develop at 72+ hours of rest after roasting. This is even more true for espresso. The Mattari as Single Origin (SO) espresso is very dense: It remonds be quite a bit of Scharfen-berger 70% bittersweet chocolate. But I preferred the Ismaili and Sharasi for espresso





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Country: Yemen
Grade: n/a
Region: Bani Mattar
Processing: Natural Dry Processed
Arrival Date: April 2008 Arrival
Appearance: 1.4 d/300gr, 15-16 Screen
Varietal: Heirloom Yemen Moka Seedstock
Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium- Bold intensity / Dark chocolate and winey fruit
Roast: C+ to F+ … Winey fruited backdrop exists in the light and dark roasts, and bittersweet dark chocolate pervades the FC+ to Vienna roast levels. Allow proper resting (see review)
Compare to: Mattari is different than our other Yemeni offerings: Dark chocolate tones and winey fruit backdrop
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Yemen Mokha Ismaili 2008

Ismaili is a "fabled" origin. Even in Yemen, in a local market in Sana'a, the spice-tea-qishr-coffee vendor told me his green beans (much of it broken triage coffee, mixed with cardomom pods) was truly special. "It's Ismaili coffee, " he said. I didn't mention that I slept on the floor of a villagers house the night before, in the mind-boggling vertical mountains of Ismaili, a landscape etched in stone with ancient terraces lined with ghat and coffee trees. The fact is, Ismaili has been very disappointing for the last 2 years, and when it was indeed available (and was truly Ismaili at all) it had a flat jute-bag flavor to it, and little else. So when I smelled the arrival sample of this lot, the lightest of 5 roasts I did, and I had that dry-earth smell of plant roots, I wasn't to excited. But as soon as I added water the whole character of the cup changed, and (while perhaps a bit milder than Ismaili lots of 5 years ago) I felt I was experiencing the balanced spicy, herbal and rustic tones of real Ismaili. The wet aromatics have clove and allspice with a bit of ginger, while the darker roast (FC+) is very pungent and intense, with suggestions of sarsparilla and anise. Later there are some interesting sweet notes that come out, traces of butterscotch (C+) and syrupy plum wine (FC+). Ismaili are not fruity bright Yemens, and this one is true to character. At C+ roast the first flavors to emerge are spices: fresh ginger root, a zest of pepper, anise. At FC+ it's a different beast: bittersweet pungent notes, dark herbs, chai and "roastaroma tea" notes, licorice, cinnamon stick, clove, black walnut. The body seemed heavy, but I think it is actually deceptively light and perhaps it has to do with the intensity of cup flavors as it cools. The Ismaili makes great Single Origin (SO) espresso. The cup here is more rooty and earthy than the Sharasi, more pungent and extremely long in afteraste. Note that Yemeni coffees need rest after roasting. They have more aromatics at 12 hours or 24 hours, but really develop at 72+ hours of rest after roasting. This is even more true for espresso. The best espresso I had from Ismaili was a casual experiment; 1/3 of a C+ roast rested for a week (!) and 2/3 of an FC++ roast rested for 36 hours. Fantastic!





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Country: Yemen
Grade: n/a
Region: Ismaili
Processing: Natural Dry Processed
Arrival Date: April 2008 Arrival
Appearance: .8 d/300gr, 15-16 Screen
Varietal: Heirloom Yemen Seedstock
Intensity/Prime Attribute: Bold intensity / Spice notes, brooding bittersweet character.
Roast: C+ to F+ … there's a very different cup character for these two roasts (see review), and I also recommend a 50-50 blend of the two roast levels - very interesting!
Compare to: Ismaili is a spicey, herbal, earthy, intense cup, not as bright and fruited as some other Yemeni coffees. Highly recommended for SO espresso
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Yemen Mokha Harasi

Harasi is a coffee from the district adjacent to Ismaili, and in fact they merge to some degree. If you travel west on the road from the capital Sana'a, toward Hodeidah on the Red Sea, you will pass quite close to Harasi, as we did when traveling to Yemen in November. We visited an amazing zone within Harasi with towering, ancient stone villages, like castles precariously perched atop steep precipice. It was incredibly dramatic. All the coffee here is grown on terraces, since little land exists that is flat, except for the lowland deserts. This is an interesting flavor profile for Yemen too (well, they all are...) but very clean, and I fear a bit disappointing for those who want Yemeni coffee to taste like goat hides. It doesn't, and we won't buy those ratty Yemeni coffees that come from the South. But here we have I am not saying this cup is limp, but clean, sweetly fruited, and potent. The dry fragrance has sorghum syrup and banana scent in the light roasts, turning to molasses and aromatic wood notes (sandalwood scent) at FC+. Darker roasts are less sweet and more pungent in aroma, "noir" in character, less delicate. There's anise notes, cinnamon stick, and some dried apple. The light roast cups a bit milder at first than one might anticipate from Yemeni coffees, but intensifies greatly as it cools. The body is opaque, there's a bit of butterscotch, and a dusting of cocoa. As it cools, more dried fruit notes emerge, like the real health-food store (unsulphered) dried apricot and peaches, with a hint of leather and rustic woody notes. I get slight hints of camphor/menthol. Darker roasts are less complex; intense and pungent roasty overtakes the mild fruited tones. FC+ roasts are considerably less sweet. I did some test roasts specifically for single-origin (SO) espresso as soon as I realized what a balanced sweetness it had. Single-origin Yemen espresso has always finished too hidey, leathery, dusty-dirty for me. I knew right off this coffee, with it's clean cup character, had incredible SO espresso potential. Note that Yemeni coffees need rest after roasting. They have more aromatics at 12 hours or 24 hours, but really develop at 72+ hours of rest after roasting. This is even more true for espresso uses.





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The amazing castle-like town of Gart, in Harasi district of Yemen, from my November trip.
Country: Yemen
Grade: n/a
Region: Harasi District (Harazi)
Processing: Dry Processed
Arrival Date: Late February 2009 Arrival
Appearance: 1.2 d/300gr, 15-16 Screen
Varietal: Heirloom Yemen Moka Seedstock
Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium-Bold intensity / Rustic sweetness at light roast levels, fruits, spice
Roast: C+ to FC+ to Vienna … there's a very different cup character between light and dark roasts. Read the review. It needs proper resting either way!
Compare to: Intense, complex and wild cup. Harasi seems milder than other Yemeni coffees, but becomes intense and complex as it cools. SO espresso is interesting.
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Yemen Mokha Sana'ani Mar 2008

Sana'ani refers to any coffee grown in the high altitudes around the Yemeni capital of Sana'a (also Sana). A Sana'ani coffee is probably a different mix every time you buy it, since the Yemen system involves families selling to local collectors, selling to Sana collectors, then selling to exporters. It's simply the tradition there. We visited in November to explore new ways to buy distonct regional coffees, and those lots start to arrive in March-April. This is NOT one of those lots, this is a pooled Sana'ani, but it also happens to be an excellent lot with a fantastic cup! This cup has bright fruitiness at the light roasts (City) , a winey depth to the acidity, a touch of spice in the cup, and sweet tobacco hints. I love the way this coffee passes through your senses while drinking it: it begins with a burst of spice, cinnamon and clove; as the curtain lifts on the first wave of flavor a light, delicate peach-apricot fruitiness is revealed, and in the end a bit of cinnamon spiciness. The coffee has a good winey edge and dried peach-apricot fruit character but it will depend on your roast treatment of the coffee: At City+ in an air roaster, you get the maximum bright, fruited, light body cup. Slow down the roast and put it in a drum and the body is more accented (remember to rest the roast 48 hours for increased body) and a bit is taken off the top end. It has great sweet fragrance as dry grounds and wet aromatics, a rustic sweetness that I have not seen in a Yemen in a long time. In the long aftertaste, as the heat dissipates, an herbal sweetness emerges, with a clear nutmeg and mulling spice accent. I especially enjoyed light Vienna roast here also, where a dark caramelized sugar sweetness was still present, the fruit had turned broodingly winey.





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Country: Yemen
Grade: n/a
Region: Sana'ani
Processing: Natural Dry Processed Skins
Arrival Date: Mid-March 2008 Arrival
Appearance: 1.4 d/300gr, 15-16 Screen
Varietal: Heirloom Yemen Seedstock
Intensity/Prime Attribute: Bold Intensity/Exotic spices, dried fruit, rustic sweetness.
Roast: City+ to FC+ Roast or darker. You need to rest Yemens 2 days to allow the body to develop. Then again, cup aromas are best with a short 12-24 hour rest. Be aware of small bean size, and that Yemen produces a large amount of chaff!
Compare to: Intense, complex and wild cup.
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Yemen Mokha Mattari

Bani Mattar is one of the few coffees from the growing regions surrounding the high-altitudes of Sana'a that was traditionally kept separate. All others were mixed to form "Sana'ani coffee" with decidedly mixed outcomes. But coffee in Bani Mattar is a bit different, tall old-growth trees than appear like a fruit orchard than a typical coffee farm (well, NO coffee production in Yemen looks like a coffee farm anywhere else!) When I traveled in Yemen last November, the Mattari coffees where not ready to cup yet, it was too early in the harvest. And after we were stranded in a mountain town in Ismaili overnight, our itinerary to visit Bani Mattar was disrupted. Yet when our shipment of coffees that were a direct result of the trip finally arrived at the Port of Oakland, the Mattari was a real standout coffee. The Sharasi was delicate and sweet, the Ismaili was appropriately spiced, earthy ... the Mattari was a very complete cup with unique winey tones. It was impressive. The dry fragrance has striking mature fruit character from the get-go. At C+ it has red grape, and a winey fruit tone that is partially covered by chocolate, as well as earthy notes and tobacco. With Full City+ the fruit is still present, but somewhat eclipsed by dark chocolate roast tones. There's a rustic, woody maple syrup sweetness in the wet aroma, and a trace of mango in the lighter roasts. The body seems thick and dense, and overall this cup has a very deep, subdued range. After comparing the Mattari side by side to the Ismaili and Sharasi (as well as several others that did not meet our mark) this dark fruited bitter-sweetness is so apparent. Yemeni coffees need rest after roasting. They have more aromatics at 12 hours or 24 hours, but really develop at 72+ hours of rest after roasting. This is even more true for espresso. The Mattari as Single Origin (SO) espresso is very dense: It remonds be quite a bit of Scharfen-berger 70% bittersweet chocolate. But I preferred the Ismaili and Sharasi for espresso





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Yemeni village with coffee drying on the rooftops (look closely!)
Country: Yemen
Grade: n/a
Region: Bani Mattar
Processing: Natural Dry Processed
Arrival Date: September 2008 Arrival
Appearance: 1.4 d/300gr, 15-16 Screen
Varietal: Heirloom Yemen Moka Seedstock
Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium- Bold intensity / Dark chocolate and winey fruit
Roast: C+ to F+ … Winey fruited backdrop exists in the light and dark roasts, and bittersweet dark chocolate pervades the FC+ to Vienna roast levels. Allow proper resting (see review)
Compare to: Mattari is different than our other Yemeni offerings: Dark chocolate tones and winey fruit backdrop, laced with tobacco
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Yemen Mokha Sharasi 2008

Sharasi is a coffee from north of the capital city Sana'a, and a region I had never heard of before travelling to Yemen last November. But when we cupped the separated regional lots, lots normally blended to for the generic "Sana'ani" coffee, it was clear what Sharasi was contributing to the mix; clean sweet fruited flavors. What arrived here in the container of small-lots that resulted from the November trip is a bit different from what we cupped there, more muted, lower in general tonality. But it keeps with the same theme; rustic sweet fruited notes, and quite "clean" in flavor for a Yemeni coffee. The dry fragrance has sorghum syrup sweetness in the light roasts, turning to aromatic wood notes (sandalwood scent) at FC+. I did some test roasts specifically for SO espresso (Single-origin espresso, i.e. not a blend) as soon as I realized what a balanced sweetness it had. Single-origin Yemen espresso has always finished too hidey, leathery, dusty-dirty for me. I knew right off this lot (and actually all 3 arrival lots) had incredible SO espresso potential. There's a sweet rye bread fragrance in the light roasts too, and a bit of light molasses. Darker roasts are more pungent in aroma, "noir" in character, intense and less delicate. There's spicy star anise notes, cinnamon stick, and some dried apple. The light roast cups a bit milder at first than one might anticipate from Yemeni coffees, but intensifies greatly as it cools. The body is elegant and buttery, there's a bit of butterscotch, and a dusting of cocoa. As it cools, more dried fruit notes emerge, like the real health-food store (unsulphered) dried apricot and peach. Darker roasts are less complex; roast bittersweetness overtakes the mild fruited tones. But pull a shot of an FC+ to Vienna roast and those apple-and-apricot fruit flavors re-emerge. Note that Yemeni coffees need rest after roasting. They have more aromatics at 12 hours or 24 hours, but really develop at 72+ hours of rest after roasting. This is even more true for espresso.





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Country: Yemen
Grade: n/a
Region: Sharasi, Northern District
Processing: Natural Dry Processed
Arrival Date: April 2008 Arrival
Appearance: 1.0 d/300gr, 15-16 Screen
Varietal: Heirloom Yemen Moka Seedstock
Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium-Bold intensity / Rustic sweetness, fruits, spice
Roast: C+ to FC+ to Vienna … there's a very different cup character between light and dark roasts. It needs proper resting either way.
Compare to: Intense, complex and wild cup. Perhaps Sharasi seems milder than other Yemeni coffees, but becomes intense and complex as it cools. SO espresso is fantastic
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Yemen Qishr (Tea)

Qishr is an infused tea beverage that you make using the dried coffee husks of the coffee fruit, a by-product of of the natural dry-process method. Oddly, Yemen is one of the few places that produces top quality Qishr. But this is fitting since this is the true Qishr too, from the first place to grow coffee commercially, Yemen. And this is the first time Sweet Maria's has ever offered a tea! But since it is made from the fruit of the coffee tree, we feel justified in making an exception. Qishr goes by many names, often phonetic interpretations of the true arabic name: Keshir, Kishir, Gesh, Quishir. If you like herbal tea, and have some forgiveness of rustic flavors, you will enjoy Qishr! I brew it straight, with no added ingredients such as sugar, spice, etc. and it is outstanding. You will detect flavors such as rose hips, fresh ginger and other spices. You can also make Yemen Ginger Tea with Qishr, where you actually add ginger, sugar and other ingredients ... but I suggest you try it with no additives at least once. I think you will find it complex and satisfying without adding other flavors. How to brew it? The husks themseves do not need to be ground - you can brew it as it comes to you from us. Use the same proportions as coffee brewing, one SCAA coffee scoop of Qishr to 5 oz very hot water. I make it just as you "cup" coffee, put one scoop in a cup, pour over with waterjust off a boil. It benefits greatly from stirring during infusion. Steep 4-6+ minutes. The husks will (mostly) sink, and you can simply drink right from the cup. It actually improves as it steeps longer. Of course you can use tea-brewing devices, but a tea ball won't be large enough, generally. You can use a woven tea basket. But you can make Qishr best in a French Press if you are preparing more than one cup. To make the flavored Yemen Ginger Tea with Qishr you boil it with the hot water and other additives. In Ethiopia I am told they roast the Qishr first, but I am not familiar with this technique





Yemeni Qishr (dried coffee skins)
Country: Yemen
Grade: n/a
Region: Mixed
Processing: Natural Dry Processed Skins
Arrival Date: April 2008 Arrival
Appearance:
Varietal: Heirloom Yemen Moka Seedstock Coffee Shells
Intensity/Prime Attribute: Tea beverage with unique spices, ginger, tamarind, fruit
Roast: Don't roast it, if you want to do this Yemeni style. I am told in Ethiopia it is roasted before steeping.
Compare to: Similar to herbal infusion teas, especially dried rose hips.

Note that we sell Qishr in a 1/2 Lb bag. Because of the light weight, this fills one of our bags we use for 2 Lbs. of coffee. 1/2 Lb. is a great quantity to try this out, resulting in around 15-30 5 oz cups, depending on your steep method.