Yemen launches historic Inaugural ‘National Yemen Coffee Auction’
Image courtesy of the NYCA and The Mokha Institute
Today, The Mokha Institute began the process of inviting coffee roasters and importers from across the world to register online for the inaugural public National Yemen Coffee Auction. It is the first public nationwide auction open to all coffees from across Yemen, celebrating the best that Yemen has to offer and connecting coffee producers and exporters to the international market. Registration for the NYCA will be open until 15 August; limited available samples are available until that time on a first come first serve basis. The auction will take place on 31 August.
The National Yemen Coffee Auction is a collaboration between the Union of Yemeni Coffee Farmer cooperatives, Yemen’s Unity of Coffee Organization, which seeks to promote Yemeni coffee internationally as well as draft sector policies to support producers, exporters and solve the concerns of workers across the industry, Yemeni Coffee Exporters Association, and the Mokha Institute, a nonprofit organisation with offices in northern California and Yemen that aims to empower coffee communities with industry expertise, training and education, and providing holistic livelihood support. The auction will be held through an online platform that will list the coffee lots for sale to allow buyers from around the world to submit their bids on these exceptional Yemini specialty coffee lots.
“What makes these Yemen micro-lots so rare is the unparalleled flavour profiles. These coffees are extraordinary from the moment a seedling is planted to the moment those marvelous flavour profiles flood every millimeter of your palate,” said Mokhtar Alkhanshali, co-founder of The Mokha Institute and CEO of Port of Mokha. “We celebrate the wonderful human beings who touch this coffee — from the nursery to the farm, to the mill, to the sorting station, to the warehouse, to the roastery, and finally to the cafe.”
The NYCA fulfills a desire echoed throughout coffee communities in Yemen: to see a national public auction organised to unify and amplify the voice of Yemen’s coffee community. As documented in a newly released video, The Mokha Institute aims to enhance and promote economic growth, create a market for Yemeni coffee producers to directly engage international buyers and enable the expansion of the market for Yemeni coffee.
While there have been several successful private auctions in Yemen, The National Yemen Coffee Auction is Yemen’s first ever public national auction.
Private auctions in Yemen are where a private company coordinator buys lots at a fixed price from farmers and then these lots will then go to an auction. The entirety of proceeds from that auction will then go to the private company coordinator.
The National Yemen Coffee Auction, by contrast, functions by allowing farmers and exporters to submit their coffees directly and not go through a middleman. The auction winnings go directly to the farmer or exporter who submitted the coffee.
To notify the public of the opportunity to submit their lots, a promotional launch event was held with over 500 farmers and coffee professionals in attendance. Then, a massive media campaign and a series of nationwide events, including Yemen’s first coffee festival and academic symposium, resulted in more than 1200 farmers from across the country submitting 161 lots. After an initial physical and visual examination by qualified and veteran coffee professionals, the lots were checked for visual defects as well as moisture levels. During this process, close to 60% of lots were eliminated.
If the submissions made it past this initial round, they were put into our digital database. Each coffee was given a code and from then on treated as blind to avoid revealing the origin and introducing bias into the grading process. From there, the coffees went through a blind cupping by Yemen’s first national cupping team. The top 50 lots were sent to Boot Coffee Campus in Marin, California, US for final evaluation and grading. The top 28 lots were identified there and will be evaluated by a panel of judges across the world who will award them their final scores.
“Over the years, I have fallen in love with the flavours of Yemeni coffee. Rightfully, Yemen is considered as one of the true origins of the Arabica bean. This is the place where the commercial cultivation of Arabica coffee started,” said Willem Boot, co-founder of The Mokha Institute. “NYCA is an excellent opportunity to facilitate long-lasting relationships between farmers located in the remote regions of Yemen and roasters and retailers around the world. Coffee is intricately connected with the legacy of Yemen, and I sincerely hope that this auction will be the beginning of a campaign that revitalises the coffee sector in this amazing country.”
The NYCA will not only amplify the profile of Yemeni coffee internationally but improve the quality of coffee and increase the opportunities for education and training for coffee producers and exporters. Intentionally, it will unify all national efforts and initiatives to develop the coffee sector in Yemen and to market and promote Yemini coffee at fair prices.
“In a time in Yemen when there is great suffering and dire conditions that our people are enduring, in this year, the best Yemeni coffee is going out into the world,” said Muhammad al Qassemi, president of the Unity of Coffee Organization. “Despite all of the challenges and divisions, we came together. We built infrastructure, held conferences, trained new coffee professionals, and much more—all of this to present these gems to the world.”
To learn more about the first National Yemen Coffee Auction or to register, visit: nationalyemencoffeeauction.org.