The New York Times, October 29, 1882:|
MOCHA AND MOCHA COFFEEFAVORED SPOTS IN RAVINES
WHERE THE PLANT GROWS
MOCHA ITSELF A SANDY DISTRICT,
WITH SPARSE VEGETATION—
THE PLANT NOT INDIGENOUS TO ARABIA—
HARD STRUGGLE THE BEVERAGE HAD
AT FIRST IN OBTAINING FAVOR
From the London Times.
No Arabian town has so fragrant an odor around its name as Mocha, which for so many years was known as the port from which most of the coffee of Yemen was shipped.
That Mocha itself does not lie in a coffee region is probably known to few of those who honor the noble beverage. Indeed, it has long been known that these beans, which enjoy a world-wide reputation, reach the Western markets in increasingly small quantities, for the productive region in Yemen is comparatively limited in area, and crop scarcely suffices to supply the demand in the East itself. Certain it is that a considerable part of the crop finds its way by land over the Hedjaz, and only a fraction of it reaches export harbors. The most important of these, according to the Austrian Monatschrift für den Orient, at the present time is undoubtedly Aden. In former times it was quite otherwise.
After the introduction of coffee-culture and the taste for coffee into Arabia, an event by no means of ancient date, Mocha was certainly the only port from which it was shipped. At the beginning of the sixteenth century only one hut stood on the site of Mocha, that of the Sheik Shadeli, who on account of his honest dealings was much sought after by the skippers. He was an honorable and hospitable man, who regaled his guests with a cup of the beverage which he himself greatly loved and commended. This drink was no other than coffee, a knowledge of the virtues of which soon spread through the whole of Yemen. The Sheik had many visitors, and out of his hospitality a profitable business was developed; the settler's hut soon expanded into a village, and the village into a town, which in a short time was crowded with speculators and rich merchants.
Such is the legend of the founding and growth of Mocha. In what year the event took place there is no means of ascertaining, for the Turkish and Arabic chroniclers are shy of figures and dates, and leave to their successors the filling in of the blanks. But no doubt the story is essentially authentic, for after Mocha became a flourishing town Sheik Shadeli was honored with a sepulchral mosque, which is today pointed out with pride, and the principal wells of the existing town and also the land-gate bear the name of its worthy benefactor. "By Sheik Shadeli" the people of Mocha swear more than by the Prophet himself, who receives scarcely more honor than is paid to the patron of the town and of all the coffee growers of Yemen.
Coffee could not be grown at all, as we have said, in the region around Mocha itself, which is known as the Tehama, a low, flat, sandy district, with sparse vegetation. The climate is necessarily hot, fever is endemic, and water scarce. No coffee could be grown in such a region, although it contains the chief warehouses and export harbors for the product of Yemen.
For a whole century Mocha was the leading coffee port, but about the middle of the seventeenth century Hodeida, to the north of Mocha, took its place. Latterly, however, for reasons connected with Turco-Egyptian politics, Hodeida has declined. So long as it was the chief export harbor, the inland town of Beit-el-Fakhi was the chief transit centre, the leading port of which was and is still Ghalefka, which sent out almost as much coffee as Hodeida itself.
After the Turco-Egyptian domestic politics had ruined these ports, the coffee trade sought another outlet, by Aden, which now is the leading centre and place of export for the coffee of Yemen.
The coffee tree is no wild plant in Yemen, its successful growth depending on a great variety of natural and artificial conditions. In terraces among the mountain ravines, carefully protected from the chilly mountain breezes, on a soil composed of clay, porphyry, and trap, is the cultivation of the best sorts carried on. Thus it is only certain favored spots that are suited for the growth of coffee in Yemen, and the culture is essentially that of comparatively small gardens.
The best coffee garden of Yemen is that of Uddein, in the north-east of Mocha; it yields the Uddein bean, the finest coffee bean the world produces. This estate lies in the Valley of the Zebid, and in area is by no means extensive.
The second most important district is that of Beit-el-Fakhi, in which are Buljos, Hadie, and Kusmai, estates on the mountain terraces, which stretch from the Tehama to the mountains of central Yemen; many of the hamlets which used to nestle in the midst of the coffee plantations looking out from the hill-sides on the sterile plain below are now in ruins.
In the direction of Hodeida lies the third of the great coffee gardens, that of Mofhak and Harraz, on the flanks of the Yemen Mountains, which inclose the Wadi Seichan. Smaller and less productive gardens are found at Jepaad, on the north foot of the Saber Mountain, to the east of Mocha. Others of less importance are scattered about in various parts of the region, as far as the eastern plateau of Yemen, the heights varying from 1,200 to 4,000 feet above the sea.
The entire productive region is, after all, only a comparatively small section of Yemen, and even in this section itself there are many unproductive gaps—gaps which are much more extensive than are the coffee gardens themselves.
Thus, the culture of the noble product to which Mocha has given its name has gradually spread outward over a district of the early Himyaratic State, which has seen better days.
It is well known that the coffee plant is not indigenous to Arabia, but was imported from Abyssinia at a date which cannot be accurately fixed. The taste for coffee itself had a hard struggle at first to find a general welcome among the more select circles. Apart from the oldest legend concerning Shadeli's drink, the Medina Sheik Abd-el-Kader is the oldest historical authority on the use of the "blood-red kaweh," as the Tunisian Ibn Waki named the beverage.
In the year 1587, not 300 years ago, he tells us that in Yemen people made use of a drink which so lightened the night watches that the faithful of the place were able to sing the praises of God more fervently and cheerfully than could be done anywhere else. According to him, the Mufti Dhabani was the first to introduce the insignificant little bean on Arabian soil, having brought it with him from Africa.
Certain it is that the districts of Shoa, Euara, and Kaffa, (whence the name,) in the south of the Abyssinian highlands, form the original home of the coffee plant. Dhabani was of a sickly nature, and since he belonged to the Order of the Sofi (Ultra Pantheists,) who believed that everything on earth and all being emanated from the Godhead, he regarded a means of excitement of this kind as a Providential gift.
The Medinese and faithful Meccans laid their turbaned heads together in the public places when first they heard the news; a pious sheik in Aden was the first to drink the "black juice" as a sort of public spectacle.
In Mecca itself violent strife arose soon after its introduction as to the propriety of using it. There were great meetings of learned and pious men, who at last, probably after extreme pressure from the Mameluke Governor, Khair-Beg, declared that coffee "disturbed the brain and intoxicated like wine."
But their opponents were of another opinion, and adduced the authority of the celebrated Bagdad physician Avicenna in their defense, which, however, did not prevent the transgressor of the edict forbidding the use of coffee from being publicly whipped. At the same time the zealots of the Hedjaz proclaimed that all coffee drinkers would appear before the All Merciful on the Resurrection Day, with black faces.
While the great anathema was being proclaimed at Mecca, the brothers of the order at Cairo, the very Mamelukes themselves, were already reveling in the newly discovered luxury. A confirmation of the Mecca decree was, therefore, not to be expected from the Sultan, and he, Kaufu Alguri, quashed the ordinance of the Governor and sent the latter into exile.
Then many holy sheiks—for example, the celebrated Mohammed Ilarlie, founder of one of the four orthodox schools of Islam—took the side of the coffee drinkers. Thus was the precious bean fully rehabilitated in Western Arabia at least.
Soon thereafter a whole literature sprang up on the drink; poems of praise and derision without number were manufactured, which by means of the trade caravans were circulated through the whole of the Mohammedan world. With the broadside the bean itself naturally found its way everywhere, first to Aleppo and Damascus. It took fully a century for coffee to make its way from Yemen to Aleppo.
In Stamboul, more than 100 years after the Conquest, the beverage was unknown. In the reign of Selim II., (1566-74,) who was a notorious drunkard, and even in history bears this fine nickname, (Turkish mesi,) wine was not forbidden, and so coffee did not find its way into the Osman kingdom till the beginning of the reign of Murad III. The first specimens were brought by the pilgrims from Mecca in the form of branches of the tree or shrub, as, indeed, the Hadjis are wont to do on their return even at the present day.
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All of Yemen is
one time zone at GMT+3
with no DST.
Republic of Yemen: North Yemen became independent of the Ottoman Empire in 1918. The British, who had set up a protectorate area around the southern port of Aden in the 19th century, withdrew in 1967 from what became South Yemen. Three years later, the southern government adopted a Marxist orientation. The massive exodus of hundreds of thousands of Yemenis from the south to the north contributed to two decades of hostility between the states.
The two countries were formally unified as the Republic of Yemen in 1990. A southern secessionist movement in 1994 was quickly subdued.
In 2000, Saudi Arabia and Yemen agreed to a delimitation of their border.
The CIA World Factbook: Yemen
Area of Yemen:
527,970 sq km
slightly larger than twice the size of Wyoming
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July 2008 estimate
Languages of Yemen: Arabic
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The Turks in Yamen Bury 1915
Resúliyy Dynasty of Yemen al-Ḥasan Khazrajī 1908
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A History of Arabia Felix Or Yemen Playfair 1859
Travels Through Arabia Niebuhr (1762-63)
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