Mokhtar Alkhanshali, the subject of bestselling author Dave Eggers's latest nonfiction book, THE MONK OF MOKHA, discusses coffee and Yemen with the co-founder of Sprudge, Jordan Michelman.
Mokhtar Alkhanshali grew up in San Francisco, one of seven siblings brought up by Yemeni immigrants in a tiny apartment. At age twenty-four, unable to pay for college, he works as a doorman, until a statue of an Arab raising a cup of coffee awakens something in him. He sets out to learn the rich history of coffee in Yemen and the complex art of tasting and identifying varietals. He travels to Yemen and visits countless farms, collecting samples, eager to bring improved cultivation methods to the countryside. And he is on the verge of success when civil war engulfs Yemen in 2015. The US Embassy closes, Saudi bombs began to rain down on the country, and Mokhtar is trapped in Yemen. Desperate to escape, he embarks on a passage that has him negotiating with dueling political factions and twice kidnapped at gunpoint. With no other options, he hires a skiff to take him, and his coffee samples, across the Red Sea. A heart-pounding true story that weaves together the history of coffee, the ongoing Yemeni civil war, and the courageous journey of a young man--a Muslim and a US citizen--following the most American of dreams.
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