When we say ‘Mocha’ we are referring to a coffee from Ethiopia which is grown in the region called Djimmah.
Mocha is the name of a port, in Yemen on the eastern coast of the Red Sea, which for many years was the point from which all the coffee grown in the Arabian peninsula was shipped.
Although the exact origin of the drink remains subject to debate and rumour the earliest written date that mentions what we define as coffee today is 1454 when Sheikh Gemaleddin Abou Muhammad Bensaid, the mufti of Aden, wrote about his trip to Abyssinia where he saw his countrymen drinking coffee and feeling its lively effects. When he became ill on his return home he sent for some coffee and as a respected imam was influential in spreading the popularity of coffee throughout the region.
The story was ‘enhanced’ by a writer of tales:
“…the traveller discovered that these half burnt berries were fragrant..on crushing them..the aroma was increased to a great extent…he accidentally let the substance fall into an earthen vessel that contained his scanty supply of water..A miracle! The almost putrid water was purified. It was fresh and agreeable and after a short rest the resumed his journey. Having arrived at Aden he informed the mufti..that worthy was an inveterate opium smoker, who had been suffering the influence of the poisonous drug. He tried an infusion of the roasted berries, and was so delighted at he recovery of his former vigour that in gratitude to the tree called it cahuha which in Arabic signifies ‘force’.
By 1510 the marvellous drink had spread to Mecca, Medina and Cairo and the first coffee houses were established.
Eventually coffee cultivation spread around the world but in Arabia continued much in the same way and tradition throughout the period. It is only in the last 25 years that we are now able to source from individual co-operatives and the range of Ethiopian coffee has increased to include many regions, Harar, Sidamo, Yirga Chefe and Guji for example.
When my grandfather began the company and right up until the 1980s we could only buy one kind of Ethiopian coffee from Djimmah which we still call Mocha on our list.
The coffee is grown in shady forest which help to preserve the moisture in the soil. The beans are dry processed being laid out on racks to dry in the sun before the outer layers are removed and the beans are not so uniform in size.
This results in the character being winey or gamey with a light caramel flavour but low in acidity. When you drink Mocha you are tasting coffee which has a history dating back at least a 1000 years if legends are true. It is a unique coffee and one which I return to often as I enjoy its old school style and rich satisfying flavour.