Empowering youth and women in Yemen’s coffee sector

February 29, 2024

Amira and her colleagues during the Coffee cupping training

UNDP Yemen / 2023

Yemeni coffee holds a special place in the hearts of coffee connoisseurs around the world. The appeal lies not only in its exceptional taste, but also in its rich cultural heritage. As one of the oldest coffee origins in the world, Yemen has been growing and exporting coffee beans for centuries. Mokha Port in Yemen has long been synonymous with the export of coffee. 

Coffee farming is a historic tradition in Yemen, with preparation methods dating back hundreds of years. Coffee culture is well known across Yemen’s diverse governorates. 

Throughout history, Yemeni women have played a pivotal role in cultivation and harvesting of coffee. Recently, more women have become involved in coffee cupping and roasting, a delicate and advanced process that involves preparing and tasting coffee beans to emphasize distinct flavors and quality.    

The Strengthening Institutional and Economic Resilience in Yemen (SIERY) Project, implemented by UNDP and supported through funding from the European Union, aims to enhance the capacities of local authorities and community members in setting and achieving community priorities. The coffee sector has been acknowledged by both local authorities and community members as a significant driver of the local economy. 

Through the SIERY Project, 45 Yemeni youth have been trained on coffee cupping and roasting with the support of national partner, the Small and Micro Enterprise Promotion Services (SMEPS). The trainees acquired knowledge on the best practices pertaining to drying, roasting, grinding, and tasting coffee samples and grading them based on quality. This process enhances the quality of coffee beans produced for local and international markets. Eight participants received training on the international certification for coffee cupping in Amman, Jordan in July 2023.

"I am motivated to continue and expand the Yemeni coffee value chain sector,” says Amira Taha, 29, a certified coffee cupper. 

Amira and her colleagues tasting coffee during World Coffee Day – 2023.

UNDP Yemen / 2023

Amira believes in involving women in the Yemeni coffee value chain, including production stages. This prompted her to start her own training course for women in tasting and identifying the distinctive types of Yemeni coffee.

 "I had a dream to spread more information about Yemeni coffee among Yemeni women and contribute to increasing the quality of coffee in Yemen.  I announced the training, and the turnout exceeded my expectations."

A coffee Cupper trains a young woman on Coffee Cupping.

UNDP Yemen / 2023

Amira trained five women on the characteristics of Yemeni coffee and the delicate cupping and tasting process. The women then formed a team of female coffee cuppers.

Elaf Al-Jabal, 23, believes that young people in Yemen should learn more about the coffee sector. 

"As young people, we know coffee as a drink, but we haven't usually attempted to learn more about it. Today, as women, we don't want to stop at farming only, but we want to boost progress in the coffee sector," Elaf explains. 

Amira tastes different types of Yemeni coffee during the activity organized by UNDP to felicitate the International Coffee Day – 2023.

UNDP Yemen / 2023

Elaf and her colleagues joined the training to fulfill their dreams of becoming distinguished contributors to the Yemeni coffee market.

"Yemeni coffee is personal for us, and when I present it, I want to present it in a correct, unique, and innovative way," Elaf emphasizes.

Siham Shuja Al-Din, 35, a fellow trainee, comes from a family engaged in the coffee trade, which prompted her to continue as a trainee. Her goal is to enhance the role of Yemeni women in the coffee production chain and to become involved in the coffee market.

"We want to educate the community, especially women, about the importance of coffee crops, from the beginning of cultivation to the market," Siham says.

Amira and her fellow trainees aspire to continue in the Yemeni coffee sector as coffee cuppers, encouraging more women to join them.

With funding from the European Union, UNDP Yemen is supporting the coffee sector in Yemen through the Strengthening Institutional and Economic Resilience in Yemen (SIERY) Project. In addition to coffee cupping training and certifications, the project includes preparation of a value chain study on the coffee sector in Al-Haymah Al-Kharejia and Manakhah, Sana’a Governorate, provision of grants and training for 300 coffee farmers in these districts, and capacity building of 45 small and medium coffee sector enterprises.

The Strengthening Institutional and Economic Resilience in Yemen (SIERY) Project works to strengthen institutional capacity and economic stability at the local level in Yemen, supporting small businesses and improving access to economic opportunities for youth and women.