...And guess who just bought some?
Chattanooga, TN: Mad Priest Coffee Roasters, a small coffee roasting company in Tennessee, just spent their savings to purchase a lot of the newly discovered Yemenia coffee species. The Qima Coffee Auction was in partnership with the Alliance for Coffee Excellence and drew some of the biggest names in coffee from around the world to pay upwards of $140 per pound. And Mad Priest decided to purchase this coffee during a pandemic when sales are way down, no less. Why would they do that?
According to Mad Priest owner & roaster, Michael Rice, “I want to be a part of history, I want Mad Priest to be a vessel of the global coffee revolution through this new coffee species. No, I’m not gonna make money on this. But as a company, we want to give accessibility for something big like this to the general public. We want to give people the opportunity to purchase this coffee from Yemen, and in doing so, play a role in changing the future of the coffee industry. We all need to be part of something bigger than ourselves.”
Mad Priest is not new to Yemeni coffee; they offered a coffee from Yemen previously, in 2017, and the coffee was a special release called “The Original Hipster”. Rice says that this new Yemenia coffee is a whole new world, though, and obviously will have a higher price tag. The Yemenia coffee will be available to purchase from Mad Priest in store and online starting December 1st, 2020 in 4oz bags, and leading up to Launch Day, they are hosting a Giveaway online where anyone can enter to win a FREE box of Yemenia Coffee (valued at $80).
What exactly is Yemenia? A few months ago, Qima Coffee announced that they (together with World Coffee Research) had discovered a new coffee mother species, called Yemenia. Up until now, there have only been a few mother species (Bourbon/Typica, Ethiopia Heirloom) under the main species, Arabica. Why is this a big deal? With climate change and unrest around the world, the coffee industry has been facing massive challenges. So in more recent years, there has been more concerted effort to develop the specialty coffee industry in new countries (like Myanmar), as well as new processing methods, to help alleviate the strain on the global coffee community in order to meet consumption demands. New genetics in coffee potentially means expanded ways to produce better coffee with more resilience to disease and greater production capacity. And it’s a big deal for the war-torn country of Yemen, too, that is in desperate need of economic and social support.
Contrary to popular knowledge, Yemen has been part of the story of coffee for centuries, pretty much since the discovery of coffee. Though the coffee plant was discovered in Ethiopia, Yemen is the first place where coffee was cultivated as a crop and introduced as a drink to the world! And Yemen was responsible for the beginning of the coffee house movement in the 1500/1600s, which spread throughout the Middle East and beyond, creating a space for socializing, intellectual discourse, political debate, and of course, lots of chess. Coffee from Yemen has always been unique but very expensive for its quality, because of the processing and infrastructure challenges with the war & famine there. Then the last couple of years, there’s been more development of coffee in Yemen with companies like Qima Coffee and Port of Mokha / Mokhtar Alkhanshali (his story is told in the popular book, The Monk of Mokha). Mad Priest is honored to be just one part in what Qima coffee is calling, “The Yemen coffee revolution”.
About Mad Priest Coffee Roasters: Mad Priest believes in producing the best coffee and equally believes in creating a business that educates and empowers. Founded in 2015, they are a social enterprise + small-batch specialty coffee roasting company with the mission to “Craft excellent coffee. Educate the curious. Champion the displaced.” They run a sustainable, for-profit business with a triple bottom line that includes social and environmental goals alongside the economic one, and are in the process of becoming a B Corp. But from the beginning, their focus has always been first and foremost on providing the best quality product, roasting their unique coffees to bring out the characteristics of each bean. Their roastery team is constantly involved in Specialty Coffee Association (SCA) conventions and competitions, they were named “Runner-Up in TN” in Food & Wine's “Best Coffee in Every State” in 2018, and one of their coffees earned two Golden Bean medals in 2019.