Grower: Assorted farmers in Sa'adah Governorate, organized around Muslot Trading Stores.
Region: Sa'adah Governorate, Yemen
Elevation: 1500- 2200 masl
Variety: Audaini, Dawaery, Tuffahi
Process: Full natural and dried on rooftops and raised beds
Aroma: Peanut butter and herbal
Flavor: Rhubarb, raspberry, winey
Body: Full, smooth
Finish: Delightfully satisfying
This coffee is produced by legacy of various sizes in the high mountains of Yemen's northwestern Sa'adah Governorate, from across the Sa'adah districts in Saqayn, Haydan, Ghamr, Razih, Monabbih, and Joma'ah. Coffee growing families in this part of Yemen, similar to many others across the country, tend parcels of terraced land passed through many generations. Coffee is the one crop that continues to survive all others, both for the livelihood it provides as well as being a deep social tradition that keeps communities together.
"Kholani", or "Khulani" is a term of terroir distinction, similar to "Kona", that refers to high quality heirloom coffee varieties produced in the unique climate and soil of Yemen's northern ranges. Kholani coffee is widely regarded in Yemen as one its best and most historic. All Kholani coffee is processed as a natural; hand picked, sorted for consistency, and dried in a single layer in full sun on raised beds or rooftops. Yemen is the oldest territory on Earth to cultivate coffee. Its seed stock, originally transported from wild arabica landraces in Ethiopia, was used to create the world's first ever coffee farms where coffee would be grown commercially for trade across the Arabian peninsula and eventually mainland Europe. ("Arabica" itself referred to the Arabian coffee supply that was the West's first in history.)
Maintaining coffee trees in a climate as dry, high, and uniquely challenging as Yemen's western and northern ranges, requires the kind of proven techniques that only generations of farming can bestow. Coffee farms are iconically terraced on arid, incredibly steep slopes. Bore holes are dug manually into the rock to access individual water reserves for each tree wherever rain is scarce. Coffee trees are spaced generously, about 10,000 per hectare (compared to 4,000-6,000 common in Latin America), both by necessity on the narrow terraces, as well as for better groundwater access and erosion control. Raising young coffee trees is a matter of hardening them for a lifetime of vicious elements and water scarcity. Older coffee trees become very spacious and tall, and often end up hanging their branches over the terrace edge, known locally as "hanging gardens". Canopy trees are carefully selected and positioned for how well they block water evaporation.
Yemen continues to suffer from protracted conflict that has cost many lives and displaced over 3 million people. Two- thirds of the country is in need of food and medical aid. So, when a new crop arrives we pause to remember and honor the coffee. What makes the quality so special is that it hinges on a relationship of trust, which has been constant for decades between coffee importers and the families who produce this amazing heirloom.