Outlook Issue 25 Spring 2018
News and Views from St. Mary's Woodbridge
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Good read
The Monk of Mokha by Dave Eggers Published by Hamish Hamilton, January 2018 Do you consider yourself a connoisseur of good coffee? Do you avoid instant coffee like the plague if you can find a freshly ground alternative; worry about the origin of your coffee beans and fret about the type of roast you are drinking? If all these things are true and even if they are not, you should consider sampling the originally brewed yarn that is The Monk of Mokha. The book, the eleventh by author and journalist Dave Eggers, is the true story of Mokhtar, a young man from Yemen who has been brought up on the West Coast of America, but decides to go back to his coffee-growing roots. Yemen, as you may know, is the poorest country in the Middle East and, apart from being the oldest coffee producing nation in the world, is also being torn apart by terrorism, tribal warfare and the unwelcome attentions of Saudi Arabia. Who can have missed the numerous reports of Saudi bombing and civilian casualties on their evening news? In contrast, Mokhtar and his journey back to his coffee growing roots is a cause for hope. After drifting from job to job in the US – doorman, driver, car salesman – he is alerted to the Yemeni region of Mokha and the Sufi monk who first brewed the bean we now know as coffee. For the seventeenth-century Monks of Mokha, drinking strong, uplifting coffee became part of the religious experience. With a bit of history under his belt, Mokhtar, not to be confused with Mokha, gets the bug. He reads up on coffee, qualifies as an expert, and sets off to meet Yemeni coffee farmers. To this end, he braves the bombing and the gun-toting violence, risks his life, rediscovers his roots and manages to identify some of the finest coffee beans in the world. Not only that but he manages to dodge the bullets and get a large consignment of these beans out of the country, ensuring the Yemeni farmers get a fair wage into the bargain. This is a book worth reading, perhaps over a nice cup of Yemeni coffee. NC The Monk of Mokha is available as a hardback (£18.99) from Browsers, 60 Thoroughfare, Woodbridge.