Many people do not realize the history behind their beloved morning cup of coffee. In fact, the history of the caffeinated drink dates back as far as the 10th century. Java lovers around the world also have Yemen to thank for some of their favorite brews. Around the 15th century, coffee had begun to grow in the Yemeni district of Arabia. From the 15th to the 18th century Mocha, Yemen, a historic port, was famous for being the major marketplace for coffee. The term mocha later entered European language as a reference to high-quality coffee.
The Struggling Exports in Yemen
For decades, farmers in Yemen have raised their legendary coffee beans in high-elevation farms. Since 2015, exports have ultimately dropped, only shipping 8,000 bags of beans last year, compared to Brazil who exports 28 million bags a year. Yemeni farmers are also not encouraged to grow coffee and were advised to grow Qat instead; an easier and cheaper crop that guarantees faster profits and harvest, according to this 2015 article by The New Arab.
“The Yemeni government does not provide the necessary support for the declining coffee industry, however, prompting many farmers to switch to growing Qat,” Sanaani said. “There is no high demand. We used to depend on selling coffee to tourists, but even tourism has stopped completely, due to the deteriorating security situation.”
However, despite exports not being in the humble farmers’ favor, one Yemeni entrepreneur rose above the odds in a hope to revive the struggling coffee industry.
Breakthrough Yemeni Entrepreneur Makes a Big Difference
37-year-old Hussein Ahmed, CEO of Mocha Hunters, remains unfazed amid the ongoing war in Yemen and not even President Trump is stopping him from achieving his dream. What began as a love for coffee evolved into a mission to uncover the best beans in Yemen, and then share those discoveries with the world. A recent Forbes article, Coffee Commando, highlights the work Ahmed is doing. After finding a business partner that shared his love of coffee, Mocha Hunters was born and registered in 2016. Now, Ahmed has a group of 25 farmers in Bani Matar and Anis. By working with these farmers, Ahmed has already produced 1 ton of dried coffee cherries.
“To warehouse them, Ahmed gutted a room in his family house, covering the windows to keep the light low and the temperature stable. To prevent any scents from tainting the beans, he posted a list of rules for family and guests: No cooking pungent food and burning incense.”