YEMEN – HARAAZ RED, Mahal Aqeequl 150G
Story of Yemen – Haraaz :
A few years ago, Cafe Imports’ head of sourcing, Jason Long, was on a long hunt for spectacular Yemen coffees—the kind the coffee-history books are literally written about—and he finally found some in the mid-2010s, when he met Shabbir Ezzi, an entrepreneur and the owner of exporting company Al-Ezzi Industries. Shabbir has invested not just money, time, and energy, but also his life by relocating to Yemen in order to make high-quality coffee a viable, sustainable, and empowering pursuit for the farmers in and around the coffee region of Haraaz. Shabbir had the passion for improving Yemeni coffee, but not necessarily the background in quality development: Jason requested that Al-Ezzi focus on buying fresh (not dried) cherries from producers and to dry the cherries evenly on raised beds rather than the traditional patios and rooftops. Shabbir agreed, and the collaboration has had remarkable results. Al-Ezzi still works with producers in the traditional way as well, and is able through their efforts in sourcing and sorting to buy coffee at different levels of quality and traceability from producers in Yemen.
The ways that Al-Ezzi does business in Yemen’s coffee market is substantially different from the norm. Here are the main points that make their model appealing to us at Cafe Imports.
- Farmers are paid a high base price for bringing their coffee to Al-Ezzi’s own or participating receiving stations, and are given premiums for coffees that meet certain standards of moisture, quantity, and quality selection.
- Coffee farmers are voluntarily issued ID cards, which are used not only as a point of pride and respect but also to keep track of their deliveries and ensure proper, timely payment.
- Each farmer’s individual contributions are meticulously recorded, which means the coffees are traceable down to individuals—highly unusual in a country where the average farmer produces less than 100 kilos of cherry.
- Fresh, ripe red cherries earn an additional premium over dried cherries (how coffee is traditionally sold at market), as buying fresh cherries allows Al-Ezzi to ensure ripeness and quality before drying, and to control the drying process for evenness.