Since debuting as the first ever Private Collection Auction (PCA) from the nonprofit Alliance for Coffee Excellence (ACE) in 2019, the Best of Yemen coffee auction has routinely resulted in astounding prices from international buyers.
The recently concluded 2023 auction, led by ACE and international green coffee company Qima Coffee, resulted in the highest price yet, at $444 USD per pound for the top lot.
The purchase was made by Tennessee-based roasting company Mad Priest Coffee Roasters. The top lot — a natural-processed variety referred to as Yemenia — was produced by Muhammad Zidan. While the lot size was a modest 37 pounds, the $444-per-pound purchase pledge carries outsized importance.
“People are already asking me, ‘Why?!’, followed up with, ‘The coffee must be really amazing!’,” Mad Priest Owner Michael Rice said in an announcement from Qima Coffee following the auction. “The coffee is, no doubt, delicious. But this is not just regarding one lot of coffee. It’s about the rich history of coffee in Yemen and economically empowering a whole group of people who have been riddled with war, due in large part from my own country. This is about the story of coffee and people that needs to be told [to], and heard by, every coffee drinker in the world.”
In total, the auction earned more than $296,000 for 4,827 pounds of coffee, for a per-pound average of more than $61. More than 90 coffee companies from 21 countries placed bids on the 33 auction lots.
10 percent of proceeds from the auction program are being sent to the Qima Foundation, the nonprofit organization aligned with Qima Coffee that leads coffee farmer development projects.
“The Best of Yemen is not simply an annual auction event,” Qima Coffee Founder Faris Sheibani said in a press release. “To us, it represents a beacon of hope, innovation, and prosperity for Yemen’s coffee industry. The entire Qima team, farmers and colleagues alike, have worked tirelessly over the last year to bring it all together and make it a success. It is extremely rewarding to see the results reflect the hard work.”
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