Last night Chris and I attended the "Best of Yemen 2023".
If you have never experienced Yemeni coffee before, you're not alone. Coffee from Yemen is rare (and expensive) on account of the high quality, high demand and low yield. Very few lots make it to Australia and would be sold at a premium per bag or cup.
We did throw our hat in the ring and take an option of ICT bidding on our behalf for two micro-lots if the opportunity was there to split. Lets keep our fingers crossed.
The process of bidding for these coffees is strictly controlled and facilitated via a worldwide online auction. Coffees have already been graded, judged and scored and you must be registered to bid. If won, you are committed to the entire lot of coffee be it 15kg or 100kg. Like all coffee, it is sold in USD per pound excluding freight so you need to have your wits about you and make sure you understand the exact value of the lots you are bidding on. Like any auction, it can be a frantic process with multiple people involved, contstently calculating to stay in control of budget.
Yemen coffee has similarities with some East African Coffees whilst being distinct in flavour and aroma. In the cupping last night we picked up similarities with Washed Kenyans, Natural Ethiopian Yirgacheffes and even some Fermented Burundi coffees we have. In particular we have an extremely rare Anaerobic Natural coffee from Kenya on our menu at the Roastery that is very similar to coffees we tried last night. Typically there are earthy base notes like dry cacao and dried fruits with complex, full bodied fruit tones.
Almost half of the coffees on offer last night had a new processing method called "Alchemy" which to the best of my knowledge is a style of anaerobic fermentation, but the coffees are also put under pressure up to 10 bar/145psi. This in turn generates more heat within the tank. This process produced similar characteristics to some yeast fermented coffees we've tried but found the lots were hit and miss. Some were too high in acetic acid, had an excessive winey flavour and lacked balance. Others had more refinement and this process seemed to produce deeper levels of complexity and flavour whilst maintaining true flavours.
Whilst would love to be able to bring some Yemini coffees to Passport, when you look at value for money and what you could get elsewhere it is hard to justify paying a lot of money for rarity. We will keep our fingers crossed and see how we go!
If you would like to try any coffees with similar characteristics we have several options on our menu. Just come in and let us know.