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Haraz is intense, pungent sarsaparilla and brown rice syrup, dried fig, berry, and tamarind. Dark cacao and sandalwood show with more roast, fruited, with a sweet leathery note. Viscous body. Best with 2-3 days rest. City+ to Full City+. Good for espresso.
Haraz, or Haras is a coffee from the district that includes Ismaili coffee area that we have often stocked. If you travel west on the road from the capital Sana'a, toward Hodeidah on the Red Sea, you will pass quite close to Haraz, as I did when traveling to Yemen a few years back. I visited an amazing zone within Harazi with towering, ancient stone villages, like castles precariously perched atop steep precipice. It was incredibly dramatic. All the coffee here is grown on terraces, since little land exists that is flat, except for the lowland deserts. The coffee is hauled up remarkably steep slopes, carried in small amounts, most often by donkey. This is an interesting flavor profile for Yemen too (well, they all are...) but very clean, and I fear a bit disappointing for those who want Yemeni coffee to always taste like goat hides. It doesn't, and we won't buy those ratty Yemeni coffees that come from the South. Relative to other Yemeni coffees, this cup is clean, sweetly fruited, and potent. This is an AA grade, which in coffee countries like Kenya means "big". Here, AA means "bigger" than the tiny mokha beans we're used to from the region, probably 15 - 17 microns which is in line with most of our Central American coffees. This translates to some ease of roast as well, being that there aren't the extreme variations in bean size like with most other Yemeni coffees.
In comparison to our other Yemeni coffees, Bani Haraz strikes a balance between the savory-earthy flavor profile and the more wild fruited type. This is not to say that the other coffees are better or worse. Rather, Haraz is unique among them, as all Yemeni coffees tend to be. The sweetness in the dry fragrance is a lot like the smell of browning caramel on the stove, with a waft of molasses. And berry fruits are up front, with a dark malted barley background note in the City+ roast. The wet aroma in light roasts is reminiscent of raw Turbinado sugar, but has strong dry spice and fruit elements as well, with a pleasant suggestion of sandalwood. The cup is intense, with rooty notes of sarsaparilla, and dried fruits of fig and tamarind. In the context of Yemeni coffees, this is on the "cleaner" side of cup character. Leathery and peet/earth tones are present, but are background to the convincing and pungent sweetness (think brown rice syrup), and do much to provide depth to the overall cup character. Darker roasts (Full City+ and up) produced lots of dark cacao and aromatic wood, heavy bittersweetness, and aroma like cedar shakes. It's still fruited, but flavors of prune, dark berries, and stone fruits tend to take a back seat to bittersweet chocolate flavors, and a sweet tanned leather note. This is a viscous coffee, that will also make an excellent but very wild shot of espresso. Whether cup or SO espresso, like all Yemeni coffee, Harazi coffee greatly benefits from a few days rest. 48 hours is great but we found 72 hours to be best, and is definitely the case for espresso.