Before founding Port of Mokha Coffee and revitalizing the Yemeni coffee bean, Mokhtar Alkhanshali grew up in a family of nine children in San Francisco’s Tenderloin neighborhood. While working as a high rise doorman to pay for college, Alkhanshali became intrigued by the notion of coffee, specifically its origins in Yemen, whose port in Mokha spanned centuries as the pinnacle of the coffee trade scene.
In spite of this fact, the entrepreneur noticed little to no presence Yemeni coffee had in American cafes. Hence, this resulted in his travelling back to the country, where he spent three years working with farmers at thirty different coffee bean sites. He collected samples of green coffee beans in the hopes of presenting them at SCAA, a premiere coffee showcasing event in Seattle, Washington. The Yemeni Civil War stalled these plans by typical transit, Alkhanshali ultimately travelling to an American embassy in Dijibouti by fishing boat.
The coffee made from the beans was a massive hit at SCAA, launching Alkhanshali’s career as founder and CEO of Port of Mokha Coffee. Prior to Alkhanshali’s reintroducing Yemeni beans to the world market, the majority of Yemeni farmers had focused their efforts on realizing Khat, a legalized psychotropic in the country banned in others’ markets. Statistics show Yemen is in danger of losing water, with estimations revealing Khat production uses up to forty percent.
Alkhanshali sought to remedy this by introducing the farming communities to improved methodology. This included the widespread sharing of new information regarding planting and harvesting, the introduction of drying beds and moisture analyzers, and keeping the farmers informed regarding customer satisfaction. This initiative was dubbed The Mokha Method, and resulted in a compensation rise of 33 percent for the farmers. The initiative also enabled them to disentangle from affiliates of the drug trade.
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