Following the recent launch of their brand-new, fair-value specialty green and roasted coffee trading company People’s Coffee, Sheikh Dr Majid Al Qassimi and Emirati entrepreneur Ali Mansoor hosted Yemeni farmers in an informal stakeholder meeting through video conferencing on December 10, 2020.
Building on the company’s promise to enable them to share their stories with the world and improve their quality of life, the event featured a session where farmers were encouraged to share their journeys and thoughts on what makes their coffee unique, led by Sheikh Dr Al Qassimi.
“It was important to bring everyone together, for all the people involved in bringing this coffee to the market to get to know each other – from the farmers to the roasters. We’re immensely proud to have been able to host these diligent individuals, whose voices are often lost by the time the product reaches the consumer,” says Sheikh Dr Al Qassimi. “I would like to thank all of the stakeholders who have taken part in this meeting, and DMCC for enabling us to conduct it very smoothly at their magnificent facility.”
Headquartered in Dubai, the coffee trading company promotes a human-to-human approach to business. With the slogan “Fair Value Coffee Traders”, People’s Coffee has devised a system whereby financial returns are distributed equally across all parts of the supply chain.
“The farmers were very touched,” says Mansoor. “It was important for us to give them the recognition they deserve for all the hard work that goes into making this coffee. The air of enthusiasm in the room offered a good reminder of why we have chosen to do things the way we do.”
Yemen, known for its rich heritage, mild climate, picturesque scenery and distinctive coffee, was the first nation to cultivate and consume the beverage, as early as the 6th century. There are more than ten well-known types of beans in Yemen: al-Harazi being the star of the Emirati entrepreneurs’ event, and their company’s flagship product.
Speaking at the event live from Yemen, a producer who acts as a link between farmers and People’s Coffee and assists with the fair-value process, said: “We place great emphasis on educating the farmer on the history and value of coffee – which has been around in Yemen for a very long time – and is a crucial product for the economy. While all of our hard work during the past four to five years has yielded success, there are so many hidden secrets that are yet to be discovered; the world needs Yemeni coffee.”
DMCC, which is driving a major initiative to position Dubai at the heart of the world’s leading coffee supply chains, offers world-class infrastructure and services for green bean storage, processing, roasting, packing and the delivery of coffee with precise specifications.
Executive Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, DMCC Ahmed Bin Sulayem says, “As a facility that has been designed to provide greater efficiency and transparency for the global coffee industry, we were pleased to welcome the stakeholders of People’s Coffee LLC, a Dubai-based business that works closely with the farming communities of coffee-producing nations to ensure that all of those who are part of the supply chain are treated fairly.”
“On this occasion, the team has brought with them beans from a region that is most commonly associated with the origins of coffee – Haraz, Yemen. Located between 1,800-2,450 metres above sea level, its farmers are the latest in a long line of ancestors to cultivate coffee and continue to use the same organic processes used by their predecessors. Taking part in the visit were People’s Coffee Founders Sheikh Majid Al Qassimi and Ali Mansoor, as well as stakeholders from Dubai’s coffee community, including The Climbing Goat, Nightjar, Cartel Coffee, Ratios and Karam Coffee,” he adds.
“During the cupping sessions, guests tried three varieties of green Arabica beans, two from micro-lot farmers and one single-origin, while several producers, farmers and operations managers joined remotely to talk through the samples and how they had been processed. I am pleased to confirm that People’s Coffee will soon be supplying six varieties of Yemeni coffee, marking what I hope will be the beginning of more trade to come. If you are a coffee lover, it is well worth a try.”
Commenting on the event, Ratios Coffee Founder Khalid Faisal Al Qassimi says, “It was great to be introduced to the community of growers within Haraz, and other regions of Yemen. Thanks to People’s Coffee, it’s much more than a cup of coffee, but rather a story to be told, and the country’s growers prove that it was never a myth.”
“Nightjar Coffee has worked for a number of years with direct trade, fixed-contract projects in Colombia, Rwanda and Burundi; after each season, we’ve seen first-hand the measurable results achieved in coffee quality, and the economic and social benefits for farming communities. The Yemen initiative by People’s Coffee will bring this approach closer to our Dubai home and is certain to directly benefit the farmers adversely affected by years of inconsistent access to market. Nightjar is certain to support People’s Coffee as they nurture and revitalise the heritage of such distinctive coffee from the Arabian Peninsula,” says Nightjar Coffee Roasters Co-Founder and Managing Director Leon Surynt.
Antony Papandreou, operations manager at Cartel Coffee Roasters, voiced his excitement to have gone for a round of coffee exploration after a particularly tough year: “It is great that coffee has found its way back to me,” he explains. “Yemen is such a relevant country, both for its regional proximity, and historical contribution to the commercial cultivation of Arabica. It is no coincidence that Mocha and Java are words that are intrinsically tied to coffee, though not enough people know the story. So, it’s fantastic to see People’s Coffee stepping up to help bring Yemeni cultivation out of the pages of history and onto cupping tables worldwide, where it belongs.”
“The flavours you can find in Yemeni varietals are very familiar, and quite diverse.
In an age where processing is trumping origin for nuances and characteristics, I hope that Yemeni beans find their way into the world stage, so that they can continue to invest in enhanced farming techniques and the cultivation of a crop that can support local families and help rebuild communities,” he adds.
Two representatives from The Climbing Goat Roastery, who is collaborating with People’s Coffee to bring the rich-bodied taste of these particular beans to the UAE, were in attendance at the event, communicating with farmers and participating in the exclusive cupping session.
“I personally had one of the greatest experiences, meeting other coffee lovers and the actual farmers behind the exceptional Yemeni Coffee with Sheikh Majid Al Qassimi and Ali Mansoor. I had been chosen to roast the Yemen Haraz Coffee for the cupping session and we’re really excited to have you visit our store and try out the extraordinary experience that is Yemeni coffee,” says Jei Maverick Santos, head roaster and barista at The Climbing Goat Roastery and Appetite Catering LLC.
Anjo Mendoza, lead barista at The Climbing Goat Roastery, says: “I’ve been working in the coffee industry for almost six years. For this cupping session at DMCC, the aim was to introduce the Yemeni coffee experience through the 110, 552, and 838 variations. The Yemen 110 is a great coffee, it’s clean, balanced, and boasts a lemon tart aftertaste. The 838 is chocolatey in taste and has medium-to-high acidity.”
“My favourite is the 552, as it has a refreshing, sweet and fruity taste. This was my first tasting of Yemeni coffee and I found it to be a good bean, which can certainly do more in the market, as this is the first time it has been truly studied. Coffee lovers will love it. I am grateful to have been a part of that cupping session and met all the amazing attendees there, in addition to the founders of People’s Coffee; it was a great experience.”
People’s Coffee’s founders have expressed their commitment to using different channels and tools that would help stakeholders, and consumers, stay closely connected with Yemeni farmers.