Our Yemen project has to be one of our proudest moments! We were so excited to release this very special coffee all the way from Yemen. We partnered with Qima Coffee, who have been working with Yemeni farmers and growers to rebuild Yemen's speciality coffee industry. In August 2020, Qima announced the discovery of an entirely new mother population: Yemenia, found exclusively in Yemen. We teamed up with small roasteries around the world and secured a teeny-tiny batch of the Yemenia lots offered by auction, and donated 100% of the proceeds from this coffee to UNICEF, to help children in Yemen.
Yemen has a rich coffee history. The first time coffee was consumed as a drink was in Yemen, and by 1700 it was the whole world’s supplier of coffee. But after coffee cultivation went global, Yemen couldn’t compete with cheaper coffee prices and its coffee industry was all but abandoned. It’s making a comeback and now more than ever, Yemen needs our support. We were thrilled to be able to play a small part in this. Read more about this project, Yemen’s story and contribution to coffee culture below.
When we think of coffee, we don’t usually think of Yemen. However, coffee is deeply connected to this country's history, and the world owes much of its coffee culture to this country. In fact, 98% of the world’s coffee Arabica can be traced back to Yemen.
The Arabica species, which originated in Ethiopia, was brought to Yemen over 600 years ago and cultivated as a crop. The Yemeni trees changed over the next 300 years, and went on to become the mother trees of almost all cultivated varieties today.
The world owes its coffee culture to Yemen. In fact, coffee was first consumed as a drink there in 1450. It is said that Yemen's Sufi monk population first drank coffee to help them stay awake during their all night meditations.
By the early 1700s, the country’s entire income came from coffee, as Yemen’s farming population moved to growing coffee in the 17th and 18th centuries. In fact, it's not uncommon to come across Yemeni farmers who have been working in coffee cultivation for multiple generations, going back 400 or 500 years.
At this time, the whole world’s coffee supply came from Yemen and it was a booming industry. But sadly, this didn’t last forever.
As the demand for coffee exploded, colonial trading companies began smuggling beans out of Yemen and planting them in countries under colonial rule under forced cultivation systems.
Yemen couldn’t compete with the cheap coffee prices and its coffee industry began to rapidly shrink. It went from producing 98% of the world’s coffee in 1700, to 6% in 1800, and 0.1% in 2020.
As one of the oldest yet least explored coffee origins, Yemen has lots to offer the speciality industry. Yemen’s vast and diverse landscapes and eco-systems grow coffee beans with unique flavours and aromas.
Yemen has one of the most diverse topographic profiles in the entire world and contains the whole world’s spectrum of cultivated coffees. As well as that, Yemen boasts genetics that can’t be found anywhere else in the world.
Within the arabica species, there are dozens of varieties. Each variety falls under one of several groups called mother populations. There are four known mother populations in the world. Until now, that is.
Qima Coffee work with farmers and growers in Yemen to rebuild Yemen’s speciality coffee industry. In 2020, they conducted the largest genetic survey in Yemen’s history, covering 25,000 km squared.
The results unveiled one of the most significant findings in coffee history...
A NEW MOTHER POPULATION: YEMENIA
And that brings us up to the present day, where we, and you came in. We were so happy to be able to offer our coffee-loving customers the chance to try such a unique coffee, and give back to Yemen at the same time! This is the first Yemeni coffee available in Ireland, and we raised over five thousand euro UNICEF to help children in Yemen.
> From all of us at Cloud Picker Coffee, thank you!