Haraz, a collection of medieval villages in Yemen’s highlands, feels very far away from the devastation of the country’s civil war. Banks of cloud tumble down green farming terraces and caress the gingerbread-like houses clinging to the mountainside, and the unique environmental conditions create some of the best coffee in the world.
Yemen has exported coffee since the 1400s: the Red Sea port of Mokha gives chocolatey coffee its name. Although native to Ethiopia, the coffee plant was developed into the form that gives us the modern beverage by Sufi monasteries in Yemen that shared it with traders and pilgrims. Eventually, coffee made its way to Constantinople (now Istanbul), Baghdad and London, leading to the rise of the coffee house.