$22.95 | 4 oz bag
We’re offering this coffee for the first time as a result of a partnership between Yemeni coffee exporter Mokha Route and Mohsen Zaid. A highly trained senior army officer, Zaid recently retired and moved back to his village where his family has grown coffee for more than a century. Zaid cultivates a small lot of 1,000–1,200 coffee trees in fertile volcanic soil on the family farm in Kuraba—a high-elevation village in the valley of Bani Fadhl. This is Typica Udaini variety coffee grown at 1,900–2,100 meters and irrigated from a natural spring. Look for notes of dried berry, fig, and spice.
This coffee is making its way to Counter Culture for the first time as a result of the partnership between Mokha Route, a Yemeni coffee exporter, and Mohsen Zaid, a Yemeni local farmer with a not-so-ordinary story of how coffee can make peace at times of war.
Mokha Route came across Mohsen Zaid in 2016 when he was selling his coffee beans in the Bani Fadhl local market close to his village, Kuraba. Zaid is a highly trained senior army officer who recently decided to retire as the war erupted and moved back to his village. He inherited the farm that generations of his family have maintained for over a century.
Descending from one of the biggest Yemeni tribes that has lost hundreds of its men in the recent war, Zaid draws his inner peace from the happiness he and his family have found attending to their farm. He is joined by his two young sons, Abdulelah and Arafat, who he was able to dissuade from taking part in the war by involving them in growing coffee. They immediately fell in love with the farm; they would not rest until they plowed the lot, fertilized it, or trimmed the trees.
Communicating with Zaid is mostly done through field visits, as he gave up his phone to stay productive by dedicating his time to the farm. His partnership with Mokha Route started when they first discussed plans to bring Fadhli coffee to international markets, through working together with the farmers who were willing to enhance quality both during and post-harvest. Such commitment promised him prices 40 percent higher than the local market, and guaranteed that his coffee would be marketed under his name. Prior to this partnership, Zaid had trouble receiving credit from local buyers.
Located by the valley of Bani Fadhl, Kuraba is a village that is locally famous for the sweetness of its coffee and the dried fruit of coffee cherries. The village sits on a hill that is surrounded by mountains and divided by a long natural water spring that flows from the top of the mountain. Unlike most Yemen coffee trees, Bani Fadhl valley trees are 5–6 meters high. The Udaini variety trees can last for hundreds of years if they are cared for, trimmed, and fertilized.
Bani Fadhl is one of the few Yemeni regions that have maintained a reputation for excellent coffee despite the constant political instability, dire economic conditions, and high costs of growing coffee. The farmers pride themselves on continuing the regions production for hundreds of years, maintaining the water springs supply, and avoiding the exhaustion of water resources. However, the farmers lacked advanced pre- and post-harvest knowledge on how to enhance quality through processing.
Since the coffee husk drink cascara—called "Qisher" in Arabic—is the most prevalent drink after tea in Yemen, farmers were used to picking barely ripe cherries, believing that this would increase the weight and raise the price of husks in the local market. In addition to several training visits, it took Mokha Route multiple live experiments to demonstrate to—and eventually convince—the farmers that the ripest red cherries are better in quality.