Victrola Coffee Roasters

Yemen Mocca Sanani

Location: Seattle, Washington

Origin: North-central Yemen, wet of the capital city of Sana'a

Roast: Medium

Est. Price:

Review Date: April 2008

Agtron: 53/63

Aroma: 9

Acidity: 7

Body: 7

Flavor: 8

Aftertaste: 8

Blind Assessment:

Janus-like coffee: sweet, rich, and lushly fruity with an herby bitter note that, depending on taste, either complicates or shadows the main event of the fruit. In the aroma the lushly fermented fruit reads as rich, cherryish chocolate with a hint of flowers and pungent cedar. In the cup gently acidy, medium bodied, crisply sweet with continued cherry- and chocolate-toned fruit and the bitterish rosemary note. Sweetness and chocolate prevail in the surprisingly clean finish.


Coffee as a commercial enterprise almost certainly started in Yemen, at the mountainous southwestern tip of the Arabian Peninsula, from seed originally brought across the Red Sea from Ethiopia. Amazingly, coffee is still produced in Yemen almost exactly as it was in the seventeenth century: picked, put out on roofs of stone houses to dry, hulled by millstone and winnowed by hand. Unfortunately, the quality of this once magnificent coffee has declined, probably owing to competition from qat, a tree that grows in conditions similar to coffee but produces a more lucrative year-round crop for farmers: the tender fresh leaves are gathered daily and taken as a mild stimulant that grows in power as the ball of qat is held in the mouth for hours in the afternoon. Mocca is an allusion to the traditional name for Yemen coffee, Mocca or Mocha after the original port through which it was once shipped, Al Makha. Sanani is a locally blended type made up of coffee from several traditional growing regions west of the capital city of Sana’a. Victrola is a small-batch, hands-on roaster with a passionate commitment to quality and distinctiveness. Visit www.victrolacoffee.com or call 206-624-1725 for more information.

Who Should Drink It: A good example of a famous and historical origin.

This review originally appeared in the April, 2008 tasting report: Special Reserve is Dead. Long Live Special Reserve.

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