Have you ever read a book that you couldn't put down? A book so interesting
it seemed that the words would just lift off the page? This is one of those books,
aside from being an in-depth look at the specialty coffee supply chain, it is
cinematically dramatic, as the Washington Post called it.
The Monk of Mokha is the story of Mokhtar Alkhanshali, a young Yemeni-American set on a mission to introduce Yemeni coffee to the specialty coffee world. As we have discussed in previous entries, Yemen was the first country to commercialize coffee, they planted trees in terraces and shipped their product all over the world. Making the port of Mocha, one of the most important hubs for trading a few hundred years ago.
Due to regional instability and the geo-political climate, coffee from Yemen was rarely discussed until Mokthar, set in his heart that he would show the world, the beauty and the significance of Yemeni coffee. Aside from commercializing coffee, it was in Yemen, that Ali Ibn Omar al-Shadhili, the original monk of Mocha is said to have brewed the first cup of coffee ever. As a Sufi monk, al-Shadhili drank qahwa along with his fellow monks as part of their religious ceremonies that typically lasted into the night.
Mokthar Alkhanshali not only introduced Yemeni specialty grade coffee to the world but also to Yemeni coffee farmers, helping them greatly improve the quality of their product. Mokthar was also the first Arab Q Grader, something that has resonated with me as I've noticed a lack of diversity in the upper echelons of the specialty coffee industry.
Once I started reading this book, I couldn't put it down, the two weeks it took me to finish it would have been one if I wasn't saddened by the fact I'd finish. Mokthar's adventure takes place in 2014 - 2016 which makes this book very relevant. For this and plenty other reasons, I'd say this is a great gift for any bookworm, coffee lover or not.