Bab al Yemen, Sana’a April 18 2013
Bab al Yemen, Sana’a – 13th century main entrance to the walled Old City. Photo courtesy bigstockphoto.com. Yemen is steeped in coffee tradition and the home of the infamous sea port Mocha. Although Ethiopia is the birthplace of coffee, Yemen has their own story as to who made the first cup of joe.
THE HISTORY OF YEMEN MOCHA COFFEE
The first authentic account of the history of coffee was written by Abd-Al-Kadir in 1587. The famous manuscript is preserved in the Bibliotecheque Nationale, Paris, and catalogued as “Arabe, 4590. A popular tale in coffee history goes as follows: In the year of the Hegira 656, the mollah Schadheli went on a pilgrimage to Mecca. Arriving at the mountain of the Emeralds (Ousab), he turned to his disciple Omar and said: “I shall die in this place. When my soul has gone forth, a veiled person will appear to you. Do not fail to execute the command which he will give you.” The venerable Schadheli being dead, Omar saw in the middle of the night a gigantic spectre covered by a white veil. “Who are you?” he asked. The phantom drew back his veil, and Omar saw with surprise Schadheli himself, grown ten cubits since his death.
The mollah dug in the ground, and water miraculously appeared. The spirit of his teacher bade Omar fill a bowl with the water and to proceed on his way and not to stop till he reached the spot where the water would stop moving. “It is there,” he added, “that a great destiny awaits you.” Omar started his journey. Arriving at Mocha in Yemen, he noticed that the water was immovable. It was here that he must stop. The beautiful village of Mocha was then ravaged by the plague. Omar began to pray for the sick and, as the saintly man was close to Mahomet many found themselves cured by his prayers. The plague meanwhile progressing, the daughter of the King of Mocha fell ill and her father had her carried to the home of the dervish who cured her. But as this young princess was of rare beauty, after having cured her, the good dervish tried to carry her off. The king did not fancy this new kind of reward. Omar was driven from the city and exiled on the mountain of Ousab.