October 26, 2017
As an espresso, this coffee is sweet, complex, and packs a punch. Blackcurrant and cherry flavors are prominent in this medium roasted coffee. As a flat white, the milk draws out a creamier mouth-feel, and molasses and raisin flavors can also be sensed. This coffee is not your average cup of joe. But what is it that gives these beans such a rich, fruity taste? Where coffee is grown and how it is processed has a huge effect on the flavor.
The environment gives an important quality to Yemen coffee – elevation. Top quality beans must be grown at altitude. Robusta beans require 600 to 2400’ and warmer climates, while the higher quality Arabica varieties prefer a higher 1800 to 6300’, and cooler climates. The stunning Haraaz Mountains are 6500 – 8005’ above sea level, putting the beans into the ‘very high altitude’ category associated with fruit, spice, floral, berry and wine tasting notes.
Elevation, however, may be only part of the picture. Shawn Steiman PhD tells us that latitude is also important, as countries nearer the equator will have warmer climates than those countries with the same elevation found further from the equator. Yemen has the perfect balance of both; while its latitude is similar to other renowned coffee growing regions, such as Ethiopia, Nicaragua, Colombia and Guatemala, its greater latitude gives it the edge on the cooler climate. Yet it is close enough to the equator to deliver the intense sunshine required for natural processing. The result is a denser bean with closed fissure line, and a more acidic, aromatic and flavorful cup of coffee.
The lack of infrastructure in Yemen gives this bean another important quality – the beans are hand-picked. While it is possible for some machine-harvested coffees to be sorted into the various quality grades (and not all are), machine sorting requires water and, therefore, creates pollutants and run-off not used in the hand-picking process. Instead, only the perfectly ripe and top quality cherries are picked in the first place to be dried and roasted for Haraaz coffee.
Hand-picking also gives people honest work in a war-torn country that needs help to get back on its feet. Elsewhere in the country, farmers are growing crops of the narcotic ‘qaat’, which negatively affects local communities, and especially young men. However, by providing a link to the global market and a financially viable alternative, Haraaz coffee plays a positive role in allowing Haraaz communities to improve their futures.
Go here to read to learn more about the positive impact the Haraaz coffee project is having on struggling farmers in need.
There are several steps to processing of the green bean, before it is roasted. Haraaz coffee is natural (dry) processed. Rather than wet processing, where the outer flesh of the coffee cherry is soaked off the bean, natural processing removes the flesh by leaving it to dry in the sun. This leaves more soluble solids and minerals in the bean, and results in a richer, stronger flavor. The light of the sun used to dry the cherry flesh off the bean improves the coffee’s aroma and acidity.
So if natural processing is so much better, why aren’t all beans done this way? The answer lies in the environment – only particular climates, such as in Yemen, where the sun is strong enough to allow the bean to dry quickly (radiation between 400 and 480nm is ideal) will allow the bean to be prepared before fermentation can occur.
Another advantage of natural processing, is that it is better for the environment. The natural process is the only one that does not negatively affect the environment, since it does not require the use of water and does not produce solid and liquid residues rich in organic substances – the wet processing of other beans, however, leaves pollutants in the water at the end of the process.
Environmentally, we also like that Haraaz coffee is organic. The use of pesticides in other crops world-wide continues to add to soil erosion and water pollution from that soil run-off. In Yemen, however, the isolation and lack of infrastructure mean pesticides, fungicides and man-made chemicals just aren’t an option, and the beans are 100% organically produced.
According to Eco Watch, the United States is one of the largest consumers of coffee, worth roughly $16.5 billion, yet only 6.6 percent of the world’s harvested coffee is organic. So you can drink this coffee and feel good about what you’re doing for the planet, too.
This bean is for coffee connoisseurs who want something special. The environment, climate, growing, processing and roasting of this bean make it fruity, complex and an ethically satisfying cup. The cherry notes and intense flavors make it exciting to wake up to each morning.
About the Kiwi Importer
The Kiwi Importer provides unique and natural products from New Zealand and other countries to socially conscious consumers in the USA.
Based in Richmond Texas, the company imports healthy, gourmet delights such as several brands of Manuka honey, Rangihoua Olive Oil, Heilala Vanilla, Zealong Organic Tea and Kaitaia Fire hot sauce.
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Brown, N. (2015). “What’s So Important About High-Altitude Coffee?” Daily Coffee News. Retrieved from: http://dailycoffeenews.com/2015/04/08/whats-so-important-about-high-altitude-coffee/
McGregor, A. (2013) “Yemen Haraaz-Red Maqahar Grade A+”. Coffee Lab. Retrieved from: http://www.coffeelab.co.nz/post/Yemen-Haraaz-Mountains-Grade-A-
Perfect Daily Grind (2015) How does altitude affect coffee and its taste in the cup? Retrieved from: https://www.perfectdailygrind.com/2015/06/how-does-elevation-affect-coffee-and-its-taste-in-the-cup/
PRWeb (2017). The Kiwi Importer Announces Partnership with Yemeni Coffee Farmers. Retrieved from: http://www.prweb.com/releases/2017/05/prweb14317084.htm
Spear, S. (2014). “Why you should drink organic coffee” EcoWatch. Retrieved from: https://www.ecowatch.com/why-you-should-drink-organic-coffee-1881940567.html
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