Reintroducing Yemeni coffee to Oman
Did you know the mocha you order at the coffee shop has a history that stretches back thousands of years? It’s the name of a port city on the Red Sea coast of Yemen that was once a coffee hub. Mocha was associated with coffee since its founding and a major hub of the commodity from the 15th century until the early 18th century and is the reason why Yemeni coffee has its place in the world.
To get Yemeni coffee in Oman, a visit to Windrose, a speciality coffee roaster in Bausher, is worth the time and effort. The beans are closely inspected at Windrose before these are turned into coffee in a way that is akin to an art form, no less, and the drama involved reminiscent of those historical times. Only naturally, the coffee created in this roaster is among the best available in town.
At Windrose, the focus is on coffee from Yemen though beans from some other countries, known for their quality, are also available. Greg Pollard, CEO and roastmaster at Windrose, is passionate about making coffee. “The reason we started the coffee business is that we fell in love with Yemeni coffee in the six years we lived there. When we came to Oman, we saw an opportunity to start a coffee business and we immediately ventured into it,” Pollard told Muscat Daily.
“We started the business to give people access to Yemeni as well as coffee from other countries. But what we are most passionate about in this business is the Yemeni coffee.” According to Pollard, it is difficult to find Yemeni coffee. “I came into this business because many people have never seen Yemeni coffee which is among the speciality grade coffees that we have.”
Pollard explained that there are commercial grade and speciality grade coffees. “Our focus in speciality grade coffees and Yemeni coffee is one of these. When we started working with Yemeni coffee, we saw access to speciality grade coffees in Oman was limited. It offered an opportunity to bring in different kinds of speciality grade coffee from different places - Burundi, Uganda, Ethiopia, Nicaragua, Brazil. Most of the coffees we have are a direct trade which means we buy them directly from traders and not through brokers,” he said.
Explaining the coffee business further, Pollard said, the taste changes with every new crop. “From Yemen, we now have two different coffees but soon we will have more. There is huge difference between coffees from different countries. The quality may be same but taste differs – in sweetness, acidity, the body and mouthfeel, and the cleanliness. Coffees differ because they are grown in different environments and specific type of trees, different in size and shape. There are over 800 possible tastes from coffee beans,” he said.
Pollard is unapologetic in stating that there is nothing in the world like a good cup of coffee. “It is like a hidden gem. When God created the world, he made this mysterious seed inside a cherry. And the reason why Yemeni coffee is famous is that coffee roasting was discovered in Yemen. The Yemenis invested in the coffee trade in a big way. Most of the coffee we have in the world came from Yemen; coffee seeds from the country were taken to different places,” he said. He believes Yemen is forgotten but the coffee is still there.
“We want to give the best to our customers. We sell in retail and wholesale. I love the local culture; I loved living in Yemen and enjoying living in Oman. I am passionate about the local people, and developing and showcasing the local character and coffee seems to be the right thing for me to do. Coffee brings people together,” he said.
At Windrose, there is something coffee experts call cupping - the standardised ritual of evaluating coffee beans. “We do coffee cupping before we actually sell it to our customers. This is the process through which we check the quality of the coffee and its taste. This helps customer get the right choice,” Pollard said.