Frequently Asked Questions
What bodies and organizations are involved in the National Yemen Coffee Auction (NYCA)?
The Unity of Coffee – an umbrella organization that includes the Union of Coffee Farmer Cooperatives and the Yemen Coffee Exporters Association– is overseeing the National Yemen Coffee Auction, with facilitation and management by The Mokha Institute.
Who is part of The Mokha Institute?
The Mokha Institute was founded by Mokhtar Alkhanshali and Willem Boot. The Institute’s Board is comprised of individuals who believe that coffee is a vehicle for Yemen’s economic development.
Is The Mokha Institute a government initiative?
No, The Mokha Institute is an impartial and independent non-profit organization and is not affiliated with any government body or agency.
How were farmers in Yemen notified about the NYCA?
We promoted the auction among farmers using several different platforms:
Groups on WhatsApp, which is the dominant platform in Yemen.
A promotional launch event for the NYCA in November 2021 with 500+ farmers and coffee professionals in attendance.
Yemeni media promotion, which included TV interviews, radio and print, and press conferences.
Yemen’s first annual coffee festival, where tens of thousands of people attended over several days.
Yemen’s first Academic Symposium on Yemeni Coffee.
How many farmers submitted coffee lots?
We received 161 submissions representing farming communities of more 1200 villagers from all over Yemen's coffee growing regions.
How were lots recorded?
We developed and implemented a digital relationship management (CRM) system to ensure full transparency and traceability of each lot submitted.
What was the process of eliminating lots?
Farmers submitted coffees to our NYCA headquarters in Sana’a. The lots then underwent an initial physical and visual examination by qualified and veteran coffee professionals. They were checked for visual defects as well as moisture levels. During this process, around 60% of lots were eliminated.
If lots made it past this initial round, they were put into our digital database, with all relevant information input: elevation, cultivar, process, village, farmer name, district, and province. Each coffee was given a code and from then on treated as blind to avoid revealing the origin and introducing bias into the cupping process. From there, the coffees went through a blind cupping by Yemen’s first national cupping team. The top 50 lots were sent to Boot Coffee Campus in Marin, California, U.S. for final evaluation and grading. The top 28 lots were identified there and will be evaluated by a panel of judges across the world who will award them their final scores.
How were farmers whose coffee was eliminated notified? What were they told?
Farmers whose coffees were eliminated were provided with a written report that contained the following: (a) identification of the problem(s) with the lots; (b) explanation of why the lots did not make it through the pre-selection process of moisture analysis and physical examination; and (c) recommended actions to improve the quality of the coffee. This feedback is essential in identifying farms that can benefit from direct intervention and training.
Why are exporters allowed to compete in the NYCA?
Exporters in Yemen play an important role in working with small-lot farmers who do not produce enough coffee for even a nano lot. Exporters can pay much higher premiums, sometimes three times the market price, after training farmers in specialty harvesting techniques. They then consolidate the smaller village lots and often introduce labor-intensive processing techniques to raise the quality of the coffee. Exporters often act as a bridge between small farmers and international markets and are essential at the farm level. In some cases, exporters are, in fact, also farmers.
Are exporters required to pay farmers from their winnings in the auction?
Yes. In addition to the high premium they already paid for higher quality red cherries from farmers, exporters will return 30% of income from the auction to the farmer and provide an additional 35% to the farmer’s region for coffee development projects,. This is the first time in Yemen’s history that exporters are required to give back to farmers as part of an auction process.
What is the distribution process of auction winnings to farmers and exporters?
All proceeds from auction winnings will be directly distributed to the farmers and exporters in Yemen, minus relevant administrative fees used to cover costs of setting up and running the auction.
What is the difference between this “national” auction and other past private auctions of Yemeni coffee lots?
The National Yemen Coffee Auction (NYCA) is Yemen’s first ever national auction. Private auctions in Yemen, function as follows; the auction coordinator will buy either red cherries, unmilled dry cherries or green beans from a farmer or local exporter at a fixed price. A selection from those coffees, decided by the coordinator, will then go to auction. The entirety of proceeds from that auction will then go to the coordinator. Keep in mind that the prices paid up front by the coordinator are typically quite high and several multiples higher than these farmers and exporters would make in the broader market.
The National Yemen Coffee Auction, by contrast, functions by allowing exporters and farmers to submit their coffees directly through our collection center, where they then undergo blind evaluation by a team of local coffee graders. The coffees that make it through go to auction and the winnings directly to the exporter or farmer who submitted the coffee. Additionally, the exporters are required to pay 30% to the farmers and another 35% for development projects within each individual farmer’s community.
*Additional details were amended for the sake of brevity. Please sign up for our mailing list at www.themokhainstitute.org to receive updates on our forthcoming transparency report which will cover this subject in greater detail.
Where are the lots for the NYCA stored?
The final lots will be in a state-of-the art, temperature-controlled storage and logistic warehouse in the neighboring country of Oman.