Hoodline is doing a series of profiles on people living in the Bay Area with connections to the countries listed in the travel ban. This story is about Mokhtar Al-Khanshali, a Yemeni-American, who is the founder of Port of Mokha. Mokhtar traveled to Yemen a couple years ago when the civil war had started and made a great escape from the port city of Mokha by boat. He learned to become a farmer and studied to become to coffee what a sommelier is to wine.
“Coffee is about what you build together. It’s about journeys, it’s a miraculous adventure. It crosses cultures, boundaries, and messy politics to go from the producer’s hands all the way to us. And in this cup, it brings everyone together. It’s a way for us to build bridges, not walls.”
Today when he travels through the coffee growing regions of Yemen, he speaks Arabic and wears traditional clothes. He passes for a local but his American sensibilities often pulse through his earbuds as he listens to hip-hop and R&B, including artists like Biggie Smalls, Tupac, and Erykah Badu. “One journalist called me a tribal Bedouin hipster,” he said.
Where his family comes from in Yemen, Ibb in the southwest, is the oldest coffee growing region in the world. Many people agree – Yemeni coffee, though expensive (the article mentions $16 for a cup), is the best coffee they’ve ever had.
The article lists where you can find his rare Yemeni coffees. Currently, there are a few locations in the US and a couple in Japan.