By: Tahani al-Sabri
Yemenhas always been known for the production of coffee. Some say it’s where coffee originated, before moving to the rest of the world. Regardless of whether or not this is true,Yemencontinues to be known for its coffee, which are grown in many places and cater to a diverse number of tastes.
Yemenis ranked sixth inAsia, and forty-sixth globally, for the production and export at coffee, ranging between 3.7 and 4.9 thousand tons per year. Samir Ali Alatmi, the Coffee Department Director at the Ministry of Agriculture and Irrigation, said that this will continue.
“Yemenhas sought since the early eighties to improve coffee production to encourage stabilization and implementation in collecting rainwater projects in the coffee-growing areas, which improves the production quality and quantity.”
Yemeni coffee is grown in different regions of the country, at an altitude of 1,000 to 1,700 meters above sea level. It is concentrated in valleys from the Western, Central andSouthHighlands, in particular at mountain stands, especially in the range overlooking Tehama.
The warm climate, in addition to the availability of adequate water, is the ideal environment to grow coffee. One could almost mistake the plantations for hanging gardens.
Coffee inYemenis highly diverse, from the smell, to the taste, to even the shape of the beans. Abdullah al-Zubairy, a merchant and a coffee shop owner at Bab al-Yemen, explained that this is due to diversity in the crops.
“The reason of behind the verities related to the different places that grow coffee. And the best coffee inYemenare Hammadi, Matari, Ismaeli and Harazi, where Hammadi coffee is the most expensive, due to its quality and taste.”
He distinguished between the three types by size and color. Hammadi coffee is smaller, and green, while Harazi is slightly bigger, though not as big as Matari. Harazi coffee is more pure than Matari, though both are equal in price and taste, and both Hammadi and Harazi have a yellow color. He explained that these superficial differences do not affect their odor.
“The difference in the smell in all coffee is the method of roasting method it, not the coffee bean itself.”
There are many other varieties of coffee that are specific to certain purposes. For instance, coffee that is specialized for Wald’a is used for giving birth. The coffee is made with a variety of herbs and spices, in addition to grains like wheat and barley in some areas, to quicken a mother’s recovery after labor.
Broadly though, people love to drink coffee regardless of age, background, or purpose. For instance, the sixty-year old Ahmed Ali drinks a cup every morning: soft, without sugar, and with some dates. He said that coffee has a spiritual side that is only noticeable to people who truly love it.