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Arabian coffee secrets revealed in South Australia


Yemeni coffee ambassador Mokhtar Alkhanshali says Australia’s wine capital is the perfect place to educate Aussies about the finer points of Arabian coffee.

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The son of Yemeni immigrants, Alkhanshali grew up in San Francisco before falling in love with coffee and returning to his family’s homeland to learn its 500-year coffee heritage.

The Yemeni-American grower, roaster and coffee importer has even had a book written about his exploits, The Monk of Mokha, which was published last year and has become a New York Times Bestseller.

Alkhanshali is in Adelaide this weekend for the Tasting Australia festival where he will hold a sold out coffee masterclass in the event’s Town Square on Sunday.

He said Adelaide’s location in the heart of “wine country” meant South Australians had a good understanding of fine foods and wine, which lent itself to coffee appreciation.

“These are high level wine and food people so I am doing an intimate masterclass to tell them about the history of coffee in Yemen, the rare cultivars and a few of my difficulties there,” Alkhanshali said.

“One thing I’ve learned in Australia is the level of quality of food is very high – much better than the US – it’s a country of people who care about quality.

“I want to help them understand that coffee is an incredible beverage, it’s very complex and it’s not just one flavour.”

Tasting Australia’s Town Square is the focal point of the 10-day destival in Adelaide. Picture: Duy Dash.

Alkhanshali’s company Port of Mokha is named after the Red Sea port city on the southwestern tip of the Arabian Peninsula.

It has led to a surge in popularity of Yemeni coffee, which is sold for up to $16 a cup in high-end coffee shops in the United States.

Adelaide coffee roaster Tony D’Angelo, of D’Angelo Coffee, recently became the first Australian roaster to use Port of Mokha beans ahead of east coast company Campos Coffee.

“D’Angelo take great pride in the way they roast coffee and the way they tell a story so for us to have a partnership with someone who can really showcase the work of the farmers and tell their story is really important,” Alkhanshali said.

“I don’t know many things that can connect so many people in the world to Yemen so they really are our ambassadors and our bridge to Adelaide.”

The 10-day Tasting Australia festival includes more than 160 events across 120 venues spanning 12 South Australian regions from April 5-14.

The annual event features more than 70 Michelin-starred and award winning chefs and winemakers from around the world across a program of intimate dinners, long lunches, culinary day-trips, classes, wine tasting sessions.

Tasting Australia Director Simon Bryant said the popularity of this year’s event was reflective of the exciting and diverse program, co-curated by award-winning Adelaide chef and Programming Director Jock Zonfrillo and Beverage Director Nick Stock.

“This year’s program undoubtedly cements Tasting Australia as Australia’s premier culinary experience festival, and it’s clear people are responding,” Bryant said.

“From fine dining to free family events, and intimate meals with Michelin-starred chefs to shared feasts with friends in Town Square, as well as chances to get hands-on with workshops, classes and tours, Tasting Australia really is a feast for the senses.”

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