Arabian Mocha Coffee and Ethiopian Mocha Harrar
Mocha coffee is cultivated in the mountains at the southwest tip of the Arabian Peninsula in the mountains of Yemen. The gourmet coffee's name comes from the ancient port of Mocha where the coffee was shipped from hundreds of years ago. (See World's Best History of Coffee.)
Only the wild coffees of Ethiopia can claim a more ancient lineage than Yemen Mocha. The finest, and some say only true Arabian Mocha is grown in North Yemen on irrigated terraces set into the semiarid slopes. The plants are grown organically and shaded by poplars as the water comes in through the rock-lined channels.
Also see: The Top Ten Coffees in the World
Yemen mocha coffees are dried with the fruit still on the green coffee bean, and this dry processing accounts for its rich body. The beans may look a bit irregular and rough because somewhat primitive methods are typically used such as a millstone to remove the dried husk.
In addition to its distinctive winey undertones, a fine Mocha coffee often exhibits a creamy and rich, heady quality with a mellowness to the body yet also a unique sharpness and a wonderful aroma.
The chocolaty qualities of a fine Mocha are often slightly veiled by the winey acidity of the coffee and thus best appreciated in the finish where you will detect a rich edge to the lingering flavors. A stronger brew will result in a more pronounced chocolaty taste.
Although cultivation of coffee plants first took place in Yemen, the coffee tree itself originated on the other side of the Red Sea on the mountain plateaus of Ethiopia. Fine coffee beans such as Ethiopian Yirgacheffe coffee exhibit the distinctive winey and/or fruity acidity of the premium Arabian and African coffees, all with subtle or strong variations on the theme.
Also see: Best Coffees In the World
Ethiopian Harrar coffees, cultivated on peasant plots and small farms in eastern Ethiopia at about 5,500 feet above sea level near Harrar, the old capital. The coffees include Ethiopian Harrar Mocha Coffee (Mocha Harrar), Ethiopian Harrar Shortberry Coffee and Ethiopian Harrar Longberry.
Since the Harrar coffees are sold in some places (e.g., England) as Mocha the word Harrar is often kept to distinguish it from the Yemen Mocha. Harrar coffees are also dry processed and usually organically.
Harrars have a range of flavor profiles from light bodied and very winey and quite rough to a fragrant winey quality that provides a fruity richness and a heavier body more similar to Arabian Mocha. Much of this variation has to do with the way the coffee was processed.
For tips on brewing the perfect cup of coffee see the Espresso Coffee Guides section on coffee brewing.
For easy-to-follow instructions on how to make outstanding espresso drinks see Espresso Drink Recipes and the How to make a Latte. We also include a primer on Pulling A Perfect Espresso Shot and a delightful section on Espresso Cuisine.
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