Jury code : 8286
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VILLAGE :Bait Alal
REGION : Hayma Kharijiya
GOVERNORATE : Sanaa
Yahya Allahaba is one of the most prolific coffee growers in Yemen, a regular participant (and winner) at Best of Yemen, and producer of some of Yemen’s highest rated coffees. He belongs to Bani Sulaiman village in Hayma Kharijiya region.
Yahya’s family history is enmeshed with coffee cultivation, going back to almost 10 generations. He lost his father early in life. Yahya was a single child, with apart from his mother, he had no living relatives. Thinking back to those trying times, he ponders, “it almost felt like we almost lost everything when we lost him”.
But his mother stepped up to the task. She shouldered and oversaw the well-being of the expansive fields, while raising him single-handedly, until he came of age and took over the farm himself. Seeing how his mother played such a pivotal role in his life, Yahya remembers her fondly and respectfully.
“She taught me everything I know today; from cultivating the trees, the pruning and shearing, and cherry picking. I would often practice with her on the farm. She stood by my side until I was smart enough to handle the farm, old enough to get married and settled enough to start my own family.”
Such was their bond and collective love for coffee that Yahya’s mother continued working on the field beside him till she passed away a few years ago. He takes immense pride in her. “She was the strongest person I ever knew. She made me the man I am today.”
About the farm, Yahya says, “It was my great grandfather who planted and documented the trees I use today. Some of these trees are over 250 years old! Back in the day, when I was a child, we used to face harassment on a daily basis. People were trying to take over our farmland, or interfere with our water supply.”
He adds cheekily, “But I am standing here today, and the bullies are not!”
As a regular on Best of Yemen, we ask him if he has a secret. “I think about my coffee trees all the time: what do they need? How can I grow coffee better? And I mean all the time. Coffee is the first thought I have when I wake up, and it is the thought I go to bed with. Always! That is how I am able to grow such good coffee.”
“My siblings work in the city, but I want to pass on my coffee expertise and assets to my children. After all, this is my family’s legacy."
Yemenia is a new mother population within the species of Coffea arabica that is found exclusively in Yemen, and represents an ocean of unexplored genetics and future varieties that have the potential to reshape the world of arabica for centuries to come.
The discovery of Yemenia was part of Qima Coffee’s R&D programme with Dr Christophe Montagnon, the aim of which was to map out Yemen's coffee genetic landscape. Qima conducted the largest genetic survey in Yemen's history, covering an area of over 25,000 sq km.
Through rigorous research in coffee genetics, we discovered that there exists a mother population of Coffea arabica that never left Yemen, and remains native to the land till date: Yemenia – meaning Yemeni mother in Arabic.
Yemen’s coffee land has a rough climate, displaying both high and low temperatures in the extreme range of coffee growing areas worldwide, together with one of the lowest global rainfall levels. There is no doubt that this environment has favoured resilient landraces, not only between the 1400s (coffee first introduced to Yemen) and 1700s (when today’s main worldwide coffee varieties were taken out of Yemen), but also during the last 300 years of coffee cultivation and propagation. The unveiling of Yemenia, which has not been observed anywhere else in the world so far, opens the gate to previously uncharted genetic diversity within C. arabica in general, and Yemeni coffee in particular. Further research is ongoing to determine and identify potential varieties within Yemenia group.
The culmination of years of processing experience and more than 1,300 processing experiments, the Qima Alchemy Series represents the next generation of coffee processing innovation. Through these processing innovations, we have successfully added sensorial value to coffees. The resulting cup profiles are bold and enhanced; they maintain the intrinsic flavours and notes that represent the terroir and the genetic background of the coffee.
The Alchemy series relies on a combination of pressure (up to 10 bar/145 psi), temperature control, gas regulation and managed drying, to develop a truly unique set of coffees with unparalleled flavour expression and structure. All of our processing and fermentation protocols are underpinned by principles of chemical engineering, ensuring our innovations are both sensorially unique and scientifically novel.
Bait Alal is located in the region of Hayma Kharijiya in Sana’a. It is home to 300 farming families and the Bait Alal is perched on a mountain top at an altitude of 2,300 metres above sea level. The farmers in Bait Alal see the coffee tree as a symbol of pride and they believe that coffee originated from this area. The land has been passed down through the generations, some of the farmers have ownership documents that show that the lands and the coffee trees date back a few hundred years. The farmers face difficulties due to the harsh climate which is one of the reasons for low yields being produced. However, no matter how small the harvest is or how harsh the conditions, the farmers never abandon their coffee trees. Bait Alal is also home to Al Ruwad is Yemen’s largest and most established specialty coffee cooperative, serving 285 families – the equivalent of around 2,000 people.
Hayma Kharijiya is a coffee growing region located in the west of the Sana’a governorate and includes many villages. It is located on the west side of Sana'a city. It is bordered by Bani Matar to the east, Al-Hayma Al Dakhiliyah to the north, Manakhah to the west and Dhamar to the south. The region boasts of a lion’s share within Yemeni specialty coffee production, both in terms of quality and quantity. One can spot this name associated with many premium Yemeni coffees.
Hayma Kharijiya is known for its mild weather, fresh air and a chain of mountains that has a navy blue appearance to them. The air is fresh and one can stand anywhere on the mountain for a panoramic view of many important regions closeby.
Hayma Kharijiya has many valleys such as Wadi Ali, Wadi Sarf, and Wadi Bini Ahmed to name a few. Mufhaq and Al-Manar forts are of the important archaeological landmarks in Hayma Kharijiya.
The governorate of Sana’a not only has the biggest share of specialty coffee production, in both quality and quantity in Yemen but also has one of the longest continuous coffee cultures in the world. Much of the coffee consumed in Sana’a is prepared using the traditional Ibrik method, brewing coffee in a copper or silver pot over hot charcoals.
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