About the bean
Coffee is the soul of Yemen, its popularity having transformed the region's jagged mountainsides into steep terraced hillsides and valleys where Arabica coffee is grown in the same way today as it was hundreds of years ago, hence the unique flavour profile of beans from this remarkable desert country on the southern tip of the Arabian Peninsula. Given the grave difficulties and dangers of exporting coffee from a region in the grip of crisis and conflict, we know from first-hand experience the high risk and, at times, labyrinthine routes undertaken by local coffee growers and exporters to access world markets. Yemeni farmers have developed ways to cope in the pit of adversity and the country's coffee plants have likewise developed a surprising resilience, including characteristics such as drought and disease resistance; characteristics that could mean as much to the future of the coffee genome as Yemen's contribution to coffee's past, when the world of coffee trade revolved around Yemen's Mokha (Mocha) Port on the coast of the Red Sea from the 15th century to the early 18th century.
No. Those aren't coffee cherries you see in the cup pictured but blueberries. Yep. We've been on a food pairing spree again for our coffee taste-testing. So much (weird) fun!
Yemen Zamarrud is a sweet pick with a unique personality that is deeply good. We often associate coffee from Yemen with "mocha" the region and Arabian coffee that is dry processed (natural), rich, winey and full bodied, typically either heavy bodied with chocolate overtones or fruitier and more balanced. Yemen beans are also sought after for Turkish coffee (made from medium to dark roasted Arabica). The world's oldest coffee blend combines Yemen Mocha and Indonesian Java. Mocha Java is an odd-couple romance between premium beans: wild, intense Yemen meets smooth and clean Java and the rest is coffee history.
City roast profile brewed in a Hario V60 pour over: The Yemeni flavour profile is unique. Beans from Yemen are small with a complex and bright (winey) acidity, and a range of flavour notes from spice to dried fruit, often described as wild and lively, a deep earthy overtone (woody, tobacco), with a distinctive chocolate finish. The City roast profile produced a sweet cup with good balance, a distinctive sweet pastry and mascarpone cheese aroma, strong spice notes with a touch of wood and an aftertaste like none other we've come across (in a good way!).
We paired our brew with various bites to eat, including cheese and crackers. The Yemeni amped up the savoury enjoyment of the cheese nicely (and we stopped to gobble here). We also thought to try ripe (almost too ripe) blueberries thinking this would afford us a sour experience but instead we were amazed at how intensely delicious this combination was. Berries, particularly blueberry, can sink a coffee (if they're not part of the profile flavour and consumed as a side or topping on a cereal or dessert) but, it turns out, ripe is a different story. Adventure! That's what coffee is all about.
Full City roast profile brewed in a French Press: The extra body at this roast profile won us over. The cup's more sugary sweetness as a City roast deepened and gained new complexity at Full City. We paired the Full City coffee with banana (and apple) loaf and chocolate fudge brownie ice-cream. The coffee's natural sweetness was overwhelmed by the ice-cream but the loaf through the Yemeni taste lens left us with a salty caramel finish that was most tasty.
Roast recommendation: The City roast is the sweet spot but darker is also good. For an explanation of our different roasts, see here: http://greenbeanery.ca/pages/roasting-chart.
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Photography by Lisa Peryman and Richard C. Owens
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