Despite its name, the port city of Mocha on the Red Sea coast of Yemen doesn’t offer coffee blends or sea resorts. Once one of the world’s maritime centers and filled with riches from around the world, today most would be hard-pressed to point to it on a map.
Yet in the 17th century, Mocha, was a major trade center under the Ottomans and the focal point of Yemen’s 200-year trade monopoly over the global coffee trade. Then, in 1616 the city was dealt its first death-blow. The Dutch merchant Pieter van den Broecke managed to sneak coffee plants out of Yemen, which would eventually break the city’s stranglehold on the market. Then, when the British took the city over in 1839, they made the competing port of Aden their primary harbor. The ensuing century and a half would see the city slowly slip into obscurity.