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.
Equator Coffee in San Francisco, Oakland, and Marin County
Blue Bottle Coffee in California, New York, and Tokyo
George Howell Coffee in Boston, MA
Slate Coffee Roasters in Seattle, WA
Dragonfly Coffee Roasters in Boulder, CO
Coutume Cafe in Paris, Geneva, and Tokyo