Colombia – Regional Select – Narino B14794
Yemeni coffee has the second-longest history in the world, after Ethiopian coffee, and truly specialty coffee from Yemen is both elusive and exquisite. Cafe Imports' search for very high-quality lots from Yemen led us to a collaboration with Al-Ezzi Industries, a development and export company based in Haraaz, Yemen, and founded by Shabbir A. Ezzi, an entrepreneur whose focus is on both quality of coffee and quality of life for producers.
Cafe Imports CEO and head of sourcing, Jason Long, had been on a search for high-quality Yemen specialty coffee when he first met Shabbir, and he was excited to hear about Al-Ezzi's venture. Together, they discussed Yemen's long history with Natural coffees, and agreed that in order to maintain the local coffee customs while improving quality, Shabbir might consider buying fresh ripe cherry rather than dried cherry (as is traditional), as well as building raised drying beds. Al-Ezzi agreed, and now the companyworks with smallholder producers in the mountains of Haraaz, offering them considerably higher than local market prices for their coffee, and providing traceability and transparency for pricing and supply chain logistics to both the producers and to Cafe Imports and our customers.
Coffees are bought at several different quality tiers for Al-Ezzi, which allows producers to both work within their traditional practices and transition to a full specialty focus. Producers are issued ID cards for their work with Al-Ezzi, and those ID cards are used to track the quality, quantity, and payment for their lots in the different tiers. Al-Ezzi encourages producers to replace their narcotic qat plants with coffee and provides support through several receiving stations throughout the area.
Farmers are paid higher prices for delivering fresh-picked ripe cherry as opposed to the usual dried cherry that Yemeni producers have usually brought to market, which allows Al-Ezzi to control the processing more meticulously and achieve exceptional cups. There are five quality tiers Al-Ezzi currently assigns to coffees delivered to the receiving stations:
- Moka - A workhorse lot of reliably good quality but not microlot-quality dried cherries from many producers, which offers an above-standard quality at an affordable price.
- Haraaz Traceable - Dried cherries purchased directly from producers who are identified using their ID cards with Al-Ezzi.
- Haraaz Fresh - Fresh coffee cherries purchased directly from producers who are identified using their ID card with Al-Ezzi.
- Haraaz Red - Fresh Red Cherries purchased directly from producers who have gone the extra mile to sort out undesirable cherries, identified using their ID cards with Al-Ezzi.
Farmers who deliver to Al-Ezzi receive more than 88% of the FOB price of their coffee.
For more information about coffee production in Yemen, visit our Yemen page.