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Mazra’t means “belonging to.”
While we have offered Yemeni coffees before, never has it been from a single farm. Mohammed Hadi has just 700 coffee trees; each produces less than a pound of finished product. He has carefully dried strictly ripe cherries on raised beds and produced what we consider the finest and most unique Yemeni coffee in flavor and complexity we have ever tasted. We only have forty pounds of this coffee, chosen from six different Yemeni nano-lots, and flown from there to Jordan to the US.
The lots were offered to us by Mokhtar Alkanshali, whose effort to track down and develop great Yemeni coffee is right out of the movies. His story has been told by NPR and more extensively in The Village Voice and on his website, Port of Mokha. Mohktar was raised in the US but comes from a Yemeni family that has grown coffee for nine generations.
Mokhtar writes “Coffee growing regions in Yemen are commonly divided as per the various mountain ranges running from north to south in the western part of the country. Haraaz, Bani Matar, Haymah, Bura’, Eryan, Anes, Sabr, Bani Hammad, etc. are names of different mountain ranges where coffee is grown. Mohamed Hadi’s farm is in the Haymah region (Al Haymah Al Kharijiyah District).”
All Yemeni coffees are dried in the “cherry” fruit and then hulled, ready for roasting. They are what I call naturally natural: unlike many natural-processed coffees offered today, Yemeni farmers dry coffee cherries out of necessity. Rainfall in Yemen is scarce and water is a precious resource. The Yemenis have for millennia carved terraces into the steep mountain slopes, relying on mountain springs and wells as much as rainwater to irrigate the plants. Environmental dryness has combined with unique draught-resistant varieties evolving over centuries to create unique, very balanced, complex flavors.
The extremely high altitude, micro-region of Mohamed Hadi’s farm is especially dry and rarely has morning mists; this results in evenness of fruit-drying and eliminates off flavors or spoilage soaked up by the beans. In the case of this nano-lot we get a deep yet translucent palm-date flavor with delicate sparks from within of fruit, earl grey and spice.
Mokhtar Alkanshali writes: “Mohamed Ahmed Hadi Al-Rameim is 40 years old and has 3 sons and 2 daughters. His farm has 700 coffee trees on 1.6 acres. His entire family is very passionate about agriculture in general, but coffee farming in specific. They live in a very old and modest home. And while many farmers may aspire to build a better house for their family, Hadi had a very ambitious plan to double the size of his coffee farm in two years. Hadi was planning on saving enough money between his coffee sales and what his kids make in Sana’a (the capital city of Yemen) to build a new house. But because of the war his kids are out of jobs so he has to support them (couples get married at very early ages in Yemen!). He does intend to build a new house for his family after growing his coffee farm. His family's current farm is over 250 years old.” We pray the war ends soon!
Small holders have cultivated Arabica coffee in the mountains of Yemen since the Middle Ages and perhaps well before that as a medicinal plant. Rainfall is very sparse and carefully constructed terraces are laid out rimming the arid, nearly vertical mountainsides to collect every drop of rainwater and water from the mountain springs. Coffee is grown at altitudes of up to 8,000 feet!
Farming is the most traditional imaginable. They do not use any chemical inputs of any kind.
The coffee cherries have always been dry processed: the fruits are traditionally dried on patios and then de-husked. In the case of this special micro-lot only ripe red cherries were collected and then dried on raised racks for cleaner results.
The beans are roundish and quite small.
He believes that farmers must take their fates into their own hands and create a better future for their families.