TASTING NOTES: Exotic | Tootsie Roll, Raspberry, Blackberry
ORIGIN: Sa’adah Governorate. North West Yemen
PROCESS: Traditional Rooftop Natural Process
VARIETAL: Audaini, Dawaery, Tuffahi
Suggested Listening: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CX3Kc1MRFsA
This is a traditional natural coffee (sun dried on rooftops) from the Ṣaʿdah Governorate region of North West Yemen. Produced by 109 farmers organized around the Khulani Coffee Society for Agricultural Development . The core aim of KCSAD is to inspire more ambitious farm investments and quality standards in harvest and post-harvest alike.
This offering is super limited and quintessentially Yemeni. We very rarely take coffees to City+ at modcup, however with coffees from Yemen we feel they benefit from more roast development.
With that slightly longer roast development bringing out flavors of Vanilla, caramel and dark chocolate, it's flavor profile is akin to a tootsie roll. As the cup cools flavors shift to more fruited notes, we tasted tart black and raspberries. Those tart fruit flavors combined with the heavy mouth feel and rustic nature of the coffee are what make coffees from Yemen so unique.
Like all modcup coffees this Yemeni coffee benefits greatly from rest after roasting, and its flavors tend to balance themselves out in the third and fourth week after roast.
Brewing suggestions. This coffee is best suited to full immersion brewing like an aeropress or French Press. If pouring over though we recommend keeping the water temperature high and the brew time under 3 mins to minimize astringency and increase chances of perfect extraction. Talking of perfect extraction, you may get some blueberry juiciness if you hit the extraction bullseye.
Due to internal conflict in the country and serious political instability coffees from Yemen are hard for roasters to acquire. Yemeni coffees that display rigorous ripe cherry selection and meticulous roof top natural drying are exceptionally challenging to find. The country after all has been involved in a dramatic civil war for over 7 years now with over 100,000 people dead as a result and a further 3 million people displaced.
This is a crying shame for a country who's contribution to the history of coffee is unparalleled. The globe’s insatiable appetite for coffee was first stoked by Sufi Imams in Yemen’s port city of Aden as early as the fifteenth century. It is in Yemen where coffee is first commercially cultivated and popularized and exported. If Ethiopia is the birthplace of coffee then Yemen is where it grew up.
Coffee-growing families in this part of Yemen, similar to many others across the country, tend parcels of terraced land passed through many generations. Coffee is the one crop that continues to survive all others, both for the livelihood it provides as well as being a deep social tradition that keeps communities together. “Khulani” is a term of terroir distinction, similar to “Kona”, that refers to high-quality heirloom coffee varieties produced in the unique climate and soil of Yemen’s northern ranges. Khulani coffee is widely regarded in Yemen as one of its best and most historic. All Khulani coffee is processed as a natural: hand-picked, sorted for consistency, and dried in a single layer in full sun on raised beds or rooftops. Yemen is the oldest territory on Earth to cultivate coffee. Its seed stock, originally transported from wild arabica landraces in Ethiopia, was used to create the world’s first ever coffee farms where coffee would be grown commercially for trade across the Arabian peninsula and eventually mainland Europe. (“Arabica” itself referred to the Arabian coffee supply that was the West’s first in history.) Maintaining coffee trees in a climate as dry, high, and uniquely challenging as Yemen’s western and northern ranges, requires the kind of proven techniques that only generations of farming can bestow. Coffee farms are iconically terraced on arid, incredibly steep slopes. Bore holes are dug manually into the rock to access individual water reserves for each tree wherever rain is scarce. Coffee trees are spaced generously, about 1000 per hectare (compared to 4000-6000 common in Latin America), both by necessity on the narrow terraces, as well as for better groundwater access and erosion control. Raising young coffee trees is a matter of hardening them for a lifetime of vicious elements and water scarcity. Older coffee trees become very spacious and tall, and often end up hanging their branches over the terrace edge, known locally as “hanging gardens”. Canopy trees are carefully selected and positioned for how well they block water evaporation. As can be imagined, productivity is very low in such conditions