This book took me a little longer to read than I anticipated, in part because I was so busy talking about it. It’s incredibly well-written, exceptionally fascinating, and a g-d TRUE STORY and if you’re anything like me, not fully awake till your third cup of coffee, you’ll love it.
The Monk of Mokha is another book where I didn’t read the description closely enough and thought it would be a novel (I mean, c’mon, look at that cover). But nope. Pretty quickly it established that is a true story about a real person and what he did as is doing and damn if it isn’t awesome.
So we’re following a guy named Mokhtar. He’s Yemeni-American, living in San Francisco, and a little adrift. Nothing has quite worked out for him and he doesn’t have much of a focus … until he starts learning about coffee. Now coffee-fiend me has often wondered if coffee arabica had anything to do with, y’know, the Arabian peninsula, but never more than off-hand. Turns out, yup. Coffee was discovered in Ethiopia (look at a map, it’s one of those “oh, yeah, that is super close!” like Finland and Estonia) but perfected in Yemen. Did you know that? I did not know that. The book gives a really fascinating rundown of the history of coffee and how so many of the places we think of as coffee strongholds (Indonesia, South America) are the result of straight-up smuggling coffee cherries. Lots of fun dinner party facts here.
Anyway, back to our story. Mokhtar wants to rebuilt Yemen’s coffee industry. To do that, he needs to visit Yemen and spend a lot of time there, visiting farmers and building relationships. This is really contemporary Yemen. Like, the State Department has pulled up roots and shipped out because of civil war Yemen. And this is where Mokhtar goes and survives and against all odds, builds out his dream and brings Yemeni coffee to America.
So on my way home tonight, I’m going to stop by Blue Bottle and get a cup of Port of Mokha. If the facts are right, it might be the best cup of coffee in the world.
Bingo Square: Delicious