HomeRoast Digest

Topic: Yemen trip (11 msgs / 262 lines)
1) From: Tom & Maria - Sweet Maria's Coffee
Hi Les - I leave tomorrow - just so much work that I have to focus on 
before then. Anyway, Yemen is very exciting and my research and 
contact with new source there have really opened my eyes to the 
potential but also the huge problems. It's a difficult situation 
because the tradition is so deeply entrenched, and parts of that 
tradition define the coffee while other parts harm it. The people 
Duane and I are meeting are very excited about improving their 
methods, and we hope we can stoke that flame. The fact is, very few 
coffee people visit Yemen. I know one importer who went last year, I 
know one roaster (Peets) who sent someone last year. I heard Ken 
Davids went years ago. I know that one of the biggest Yemen importers 
hasn't been since 1993! That's it. Compared to other origins, that's 
just not going to help the dialog toward quality. USAID did an 
excellent report on the prospects of improving Yemeni coffee, 
specifying at least 12 sub-regions that most people don't even 
distinguish (we have been, with Ismaili, Hirazi, Haimi, Dhamari, 
Saihi, Raimi, etc, but the fact is that most Sana'ani and Mattari are 
mixes of these subregions). There's also at least 5-10 distinct 
cultivars of Moka, and they can be visually identified by the tree. 
Anyway, since our best source, called YMCT, dried up a few years back 
due to family squabbles, it has been so much more hit or miss. I have 
rejected the last 2 lots of Ismaili, which is why you haven't seen it 
in so long. The other issue is qat (also spelled ghat, chat, quat 
...) the mildly narcotic leaf/stick they like to chew. It's not so 
much a drug issue (I don't think it's too much more of a drug than an 
unfiltered cigarette) but the way everyone plants it instead of 
coffee, and the fact they often take the entire afternoon to sit 
around and chew it. I am just a bit on edge about the trip in terms 
of safety, but I think we'll be well looked after by our contacts. 
There's not a lot of petty crime or street crime there, mostly its 
tribal issues but we won't be going to the lowland tribal areas. To 
get my Visa for Yemen I had to produce an invitation letter from 
someone in the country, do a full blood workup to prove I had no 
contagious diseases, send off my passport to Washington DC with extra 
color photos ... kinda funny stuff. Not a big deal, but certainly 
more work than going other places! I started the process 2.5 months 
ago. Anyway, I leave tomorrow but just busy trying to deal with 
things here.
I apologize for the earlier rant - and appreciate having the list as 
a place to share frustrations, occasionally,
                   "Great coffee comes from tiny roasters"
            Sweet Maria's Home Coffee Roasting  -  Tom & Maria
                      http://www.sweetmarias.com                Thompson Owen george_at_sweetmarias.com
     Sweet Maria's Coffee - 1115 21st Street, Oakland, CA 94607 - USA
             phone/fax: 888 876 5917 - tom_at_sweetmarias.com

2) From: Mejia, Carlos
Have a VERY SAFE and rewarding trip.  We look forward to hearing all
about it when you return!  ~carlos

3) From: Les
Thanks for the update Tom.  I like it when you share your heart and passion
on the list.  I would like to see you post more often.  I think your rant
was right on.  There is no such thing as a perfect roaster.  I like that you
test the roasters as it is in yours and well as our best interest that we
have good roasters for the beans we buy.  It would be a shame for you to go
through all that work of cupping and offering excellent beans and have
us use an inadequate roaster to ruin the beans.
On 11/9/07, Tom & Maria - Sweet Maria's Coffee 

4) From: gin
Have a great trip. We will miss you but will take care of things!!! You can trust us!!
---- Tom & Maria - Sweet Maria's Coffee  wrote: 

5) From: Treshell
Our prayers will travel with you.
God Bless and do learn lots.  I think one of my favorite things about your
site and ordering from you is how much I learn about the real people that
grow it.  
That's very important to me.
Treshell Jones

6) From: DJ Garcia
Tom ,
I hope you all have a safe, enjoyable and rewarding trip.
And a Happy Thanksgiving if you're not back by then!

7) From: Jim Gundlach
     I actually enjoyed the rant.  I had been biting my tongue to stay  
out of that one.  Yemen sounds like a potential diamond in the rough.   
But, it might take more to polish than you have time or resources to  
Anyway, best of luck.
     pecan jim
On Nov 9, 2007, at 3:47 PM, Tom & Maria - Sweet Maria's Coffee wrote:

8) From: Aaron
Tom it's your list, you are entitled to a rant if anyone is,and some 
folks well... need it.... nuff said.
Enjoy the trip to yemen, granted there are some bad places there (where 
is there somewhere where there aren't any really) but given your 
background, and more specifically, purpose of the trip, I think it will 
work out fine for you.
Enjoy the time over there, but don't do all business, take a little time 
to relax, have a breather, and yes, a nice cup of fresh coffee...
Oh and one other thing....
if you decide to ship any coffee back, and for some reason customs says 
you can only ship so much to any one address... you can always send some 
stuff to my place and Ill look over it for you :::cough cough cough::..
have fun and who knows, with a little education you might be the turning 
force into us seeing some super coffee's from that region in a few years.

9) From: Robert Joslin
     I hope that in addition to all the work, you will be able to snap a few
pics and do your usual, interesting write up about the trip when you
return.  Take care.  Be safe.    Josh
On Nov 9, 2007 8:36 PM, Aaron  wrote:

10) From: susan oppenheim
thank you for giving all of us so many glorious details of your upcoming
trip to Yemen
You are quite an amazing fellow Tom-so knowledgeable, humble and worldy.
Did I forget generous?
Oh yeah that too
i am going be looking forward to the updates
what a ride......
susan O

11) From: Lynne
Yeah - all that Susan said... hey, it' s not too many businesses that have
an almost fan club!!
We love you, Tom - and thank you! Stay safe on this journey, and bring back
lots of photos.
On Nov 10, 2007 12:51 AM, susan oppenheim  wrote:

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