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Mohammed Jarmah

East Haraz Sana'a, Yemen
Partner since: 2022 Traceable to: Mohammed Jarmah Altitude: 1500-2200 masl Varietals: Heirloom varieties including Mattari, Ismaili, Harazi, Dawairi, Dawarani, Sanani, Haimi

hand-picked and sorted for ripeness; dried in cherry on raised beds

Community Context

Sana’a, one of the oldest continuously populated cities in the world, is also one of the world’s highest capital cities, sitting at an elevation of nearly 2,300 masl—and is the largest coffee producing region in Yemen. Jarmah’s coffee grows on the eastern side of the mountain in the highlands, the landscape terraced with heirloom cultivars watered through irrigation or stores of water deep underground who then hand-pick and dry the coffee on rooftops and age it inside caverns. The rudimentary processing methods and limitations of space combined with varieties of coffee not found outside of Yemen result in highly diverse and unique cup profiles coming out of this region.

Country Context

While Arabica originated in Ethiopia, of everywhere in the world, Yemen’s claim as the birthplace of the coffee industry is perhaps strongest. First planted, harvested, roasted and brewed as a beverage in Sufi monasteries in the 1400s as a concentration aid for prayer, commercially cultivated coffee found its foothold in Yemen and with its famous port of Mokha, the country became a hub for coffee exported into the Middle East and Europe. By the 15th and 16th centuries, Yemen was well-established as a coffee producing country, with coffee growing in remote highlands in the West and Southwest along the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden.

Today, heirloom varieties of coffee genetically distinct and particular to Yemen known locally as Udaini, Dawairi, Tufahi and Burai grow in the same remote regions, produced by nearly 100,000 smallholder families. The traditional methods used for production in Yemen—growing lower-yielding heirloom Yemenia cultivars on terraced land at the highest elevations, drawing from nonrenewable underground water stores and without the use of fertilizers—means those smallholders produce, on average, just 113kg of ripe cherry per year, universally processed as naturals.

Coupled with difficult and dangerous trade and export routes as a result of political instability as well as military and armed entanglements, coffee from Yemen remains rare, expensive and often of lower quality—and because of the small yields and difficulty in aggregation, separation of individual producer lots remains uncommon. For this reason, Crop to Cup is thrilled to bring a selection of outstanding single-producer lots from Yemen to market in North America through our partnership with Mokha King.