Global coffee industry leaders to shine light on Yemen amidst world’s worst humanitarian crisis

On 9 April 2021, a global consortium of coffee industry leaders will host the virtual launch of Amal Yemen (Hope for Yemen), a campaign to mobilise interest in Yemen’s culinary and artistic output – especially its highly distinctive coffee.

Featuring internationally acclaimed BBC journalist Nawal Al-Maghafi, author Jonathan Morris, geneticist Dr. Christophe Montagnon, Director of Yemen’s National Coffee Research Center Ahmad Al Muallim, as well as celebrated Yemeni artists and musicians, virtual attendees will also be able to also participate in guided Yemeni coffee tastings hosted by widely recognised coffee industry experts.

Amal Yemen was designed to create a new kind of engagement with Yemeni producers, artists, and businesses while raising funds to support humanitarian relief efforts currently underway. It aims to cultivate a global audience to plug in to Yemen’s rich history and unique contributions to the world of coffee. The event will include a raffle and subsequent auction featuring coffee gear, subscriptions, experiences, and unique artwork donated by dozens of roasters, equipment manufacturers, artists, and other individuals.

Thought to be the birthplace of modern coffee, Yemen is directly responsible for the existence of coffee consuming culture and the origin of the commercial coffee trade. As the country continues to suffer in its sixth year of war, coffee farmers are facing unprecedented challenges – in particular, a lack of vital resources to keep agricultural and business operations moving forward throughout the country. According to UNICEF, Yemen is the largest humanitarian crisis in the world, with more than 24 million people – some 80 per cent of the population – in need of humanitarian assistance, including more than 12 million children.

“As the largest humanitarian disaster in my lifetime, it became obvious that we, as a coffee industry, needed to respond and provide awareness and hope for a country that has been devastated by this ongoing crisis,” says Alliance for Coffee Excellence (ACE) Executive Director Darrin Daniel.

“It is our goal to bring our expert knowledge while celebrating Yemen’s rich cultural and historical footprint within the coffee industry.”

Initiated by Intelligentsia Coffee, the ACE, Qima Coffee, and Square Mile Coffee Roasters, Amal Yemen has since expanded to include more than 30 independent coffee companies from five continents, along with dozens of Yemeni coffee companies, businesses and individual artists.

“Yemen should sit near the top of the list of countries celebrated for its extraordinary coffees, yet it is nearly invisible within the modern specialty coffee movement” explains Geoff Watts, event organizer and co-owner of Intelligentsia Coffee.

“Amal Yemen was designed as an international campaign to showcase Yemen’s profound coffee traditions and vibrant contributions in visual arts, music. and cuisine. We hope to create a magnetism that draws a global audience to form new relationships with the country and its 30 million inhabitants and engage with Yemeni businesses in their own communities. It is a forward-looking project that is simultaneously raising funds to alleviate acute suffering today.”

Coffee has been identified by the UNDP as one of the five critical pillars to Yemen’s economic recovery, and serves a lifeline to Yemen’s rural population that has been cultivating coffee for centuries.

Faris Sheibani, founder of Qima coffee and event co-organiser, states that “coffee represents a critical lifeline for Yemen’s future, both as a vehicle for much-needed livelihood generation throughout the conflict and as a driver for significant post-conflict macroeconomic recovery. For Yemenis, coffee is more a way of life than a caffeine kick – it represents a golden era of peace and prosperity and a rich history of cultivation mastery. Amal Yemen aims to mobilise communities both within and outside Yemen to showcase and celebrate the beauty and heritage of the country, portrayed through the lens of coffee.”

All proceeds from the event will be donated to Mercy Corps and Médecins Sans Frontières, to support their ongoing humanitarian relief efforts in Yemen.

Dozens of coffee companies have donated materials to the fundraiser, including La Marzocco, Comandante, Behmor, and Ratio. Hario has donated coffee making equipment as part of the Amal Yemen Coffee Kit along with eight Yemeni coffees donated by roasters from South Korea, Australia, the United States, Europe, the Middle East, and China. The live global event will include a guided tasting with digital support from Cropster. Kits must be ordered by 26 March at 12am Greenwich Mean Time to arrive in time for the event.

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Image: Amal Yemen

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