MILAN – For this third instalment in our series about the origins sourced by Lavazza for its 1895 Coffee Designers brand we are back to Yemen to meet Muhsin Mohammed Al Ofairi, a coffee grower who is also a teacher in his local community. 1895 Coffee Designers by Lavazza is a new brand created in Turin in an experience factory, a place where craftsmanship meets technical innovation to offer a fascinating trip in the universe of coffee.
Muhsin Mohammed Al Ofairi: How is the life of a farmer? What’s it like everyday?
I head to the farm every morning. We usually prune the trees every day. I am also a teacher. I am either teaching the kids under the coffee trees, because there is no school building, or watering and taking care or the coffee trees.
Which are the main characteristics of your farm? Altitudes, climate conditions, terroir?
The climate is sort of mild. My farm is at an altitude of 2000-2200 masl. My land is spread on different agricultural terraces.
Is it all cultivated by coffee plants or with other cultures?
I only grow coffee and corn and each one is on a different plot.
What are the type of coffees that you produce and with which methods?
Udaini is the known local variety in our region. It has been there since we took over our forefather’s lands.
What is the necessary know-how to do it in a professional way?
I only use manure. I add no chemicals to my trees. Yes we struggle because of the low yield, but organic farming is the best practice.
When and why have you decided to be a farmer?
I have been in the farm since I was 7 years old. I started helping my father during the harvest season which was only 3 months a year.
Which are the main difficulties for this work?
The sudden dryness of the trees and soil. No guidance or education for farmers.
Rugged roads, it takes me an hour to walk to my farm, however the distance is only few hundred meters.
And what are the risks if nothing will change soon?
The trees will keep fighting tons of diseases that we do not have a name for. This will lead to a very difficult life for farmers, financially speaking.
How do you think to fight climate change and all the diseases that are going to threaten the future of cultivations?
We cannot really tell that there is a climate change. We do not know how to measure it. But farming is always risky and we fight it like we fight everything else, with natural remedies.
How did you achieve to work with an Italian big company as Lavazza?
I believe this is good faith and god’s plan. My hard and continuous work is what helped me. It is also Qima Coffee who connected us to big companies like Lavazza and taught us good farming practices.
What has it changed for your work and life (if it did)?
It increased our income and helped giving us a better life to support our families and children.
In a few sentences, Muhsin Mohammed Al Ofairi, can you try to convince the Italian consumer that it’s unfair to pay only one euro for your coffee and why?
I know how my coffee tastes and I think it is unfair to pay this little for this good quality coffee. I work alongside with my family the entire year, then I hire labour during harvest season then I find a buyer for my coffee who processes this coffee and export it from a country that is suffering a civil war and facing the worst humanitarian crisis. 1 Euro pays for nothing.
Established in 2016 Qima Coffee is a specialty coffee exporter working with over 2,600 farmers across 53 communities throughout Yemen. Qima Coffee was founded with the vision of using coffee as a vehicle to sustainably improve the livelihoods of Yemen´s rural communities.