Yemeni-Style Coffee Is Popping Up At Cafés Near You

A report that was made by the National Coffee Association in April of 2023 declared that 65% of Americans are drinking coffee every day. There is no question that coffee has become an ingrained part of modern American culture despite the fact that its history here is relatively short.

Up to now, our coffee orders for steaming mugs of French-pressed coffee or tiny teacups of Italian-style espressos have emphasized the European methods for preparing our daily caffeine fix, but a recent trend is changing that, directing our attention back to the Middle Eastern origins of the beans themselves.

While the coffee we drink today can be traced to Ethiopia, it was in Yemen in the 15th century that people first cultivated coffee plants for trade.  Carrying on their ancestor's legacy, new generations of Yemeni people are now opening cafés across the U.S. and educating consumers about their historic coffee culture.

From the mountains of Yemen to American coffee shops

It is now possible to find Yemeni-owned coffee shops from Los Angeles to Brooklyn and everywhere in between. As of January 2023, Michigan is home to the highest number and percentage of Arab Americans in the U.S., as shown on the World Population Review, and it is there that many Yemeni immigrants have chosen to open their cafés. Some of these businesses have expanded into numerous locations, such as Qahwah House, Quamaria, and Haraz Coffee House.

Unlike plenty of coffee shops that focus on other aspects of the coffee-drinking experience, such as flavor add-ins or latte art, these cafés tend to focus on the coffee beans. Many provide ample information about sourcing from the mountainous coffee-growing regions of Western Yemen. They are also able to explain the higher-than-average price of Yemeni coffee, which is due in part to challenges related to the civil war that began almost a decade ago in Yemen.

Tips for tasting your first Yemeni coffee

As people grow ever more interested in knowing everything about their coffee — from the types of coffee beans and where they were grown to when and how they were roasted — it's no wonder that there is growing curiosity in the place that played such a vital role in the history of coffee cultivation and consumption. Next time you're near a Yemeni café, stop in for a coffee, which is often described as rich, earthy, complex, and chocolatey.

Besides black coffee, some cafés offer drinks that are flavored with spices such as cardamom, cinnamon, and ginger. Before adding milk and sugar to your first Yemeni coffee, try it purely as it is and see if you can taste the difference from other coffees you might have tried, which likely came from some of the world's biggest coffee producers, such as Brazil and Vietnam. If you want to add something sweet, check the menu to see if the café also offers any traditional Yemeni pastries.