NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – Ibrahim Alhasbani identifies as an eighth-generation coffee maker.
A native of Sana’a, Yemen, he’s importing beans from his family’s farms to Williamsburg, the second location for his café Qahwah House, which began in Dearborn, Michigan.
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At Qahwah House, Alhasbani takes pride in tradition.
“It means a lot. You carry the message. You want to follow what your grandfather, what your father, what your great-grandfather did,” he said.
He and his team roast and brew organic, sun-dried beans using traditional methods. For him, Yemeni coffee is special both for its rich flavor and rich history.
“The first people to find coffee, brew coffee, and make coffee were from Yemen,” he said.
He regularly encounters people who haven’t heard of his native country, let alone understood its coffee culture. He enjoys illuminating little-known facts, such as the origin of the mocha—it began not as a chocolate-espresso beverage but as beans with a natural chocolate flavor, exported around the world from the port of Mocha in Yemen.
A conversation starter is the large map covering one wall that traces coffee’s origins and trajectory across the globe.
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The menu includes specialty brews such as Jubani—named for the Yemeni district of Juban—which blends medium and light roasts with cardamom, ginger, and cinnamon. Qishr, a drink made from coffee husks, could be mistaken for tea.
As an accompaniment, traditional Yemeni pastries are baked in-house and drizzled with raw honey derived from the nectar of Sidr trees in Yemen.
Alhasbani is committed to keeping things fresh, roasting beans at least every other day. For him, it’s a worthwhile effort.
“If you’re going to make it from your heart, it’s going to come out good,” he said.
For Alhasbani growing up in Yemen, coffee was more than a drink; it was a lifestyle. He says he can still remember the aromas of the beans his mother would roast and grind by hand at home. He finds meaning in sharing these memories with visitors.
“It’s not just about coffee. It’s a story. It’s not just about money. It’s a message I want to send to everyone.”
162 Bedford Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11211
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