The Monk of Mokha
This book was a delightful surprise. I bought it for its cover. Well, and the fact that I like coffee and Mokha and Monk together sounded intriguing. I had also read Eggers’ The Circle and really enjoyed that. So, from a confluence of inputs, this book made my 2019 reading list.
I absolutely loved it. It’s a true coming of age story about Mokhtar Alkanshali, a Yemeni-American who in the mid-2010s, traces his country and family coffee heritage back to its roots and decides he’s going to revitalize the Yemeni specialty coffee export business. The only problem is that Yemen is in the midst of being overrun by Al Qaeda, Houthi rebels, and a Saudi-led coalition of bombers.
In the span of a few hundred pages, Mokhtar becomes the equivalent of a wine sommelier for coffee, has Indiana Jones-type adventures weaving through warlords and terrorists, and obtains his holy grail – a coffee bean with a rating of 97 out of 100.
I don’t know how many more boxes this book could have checked for me. I love coffee. I love learning about coffee and its history. I love learning about countries and their recent history. I love adventure. I love the hero’s journey. And I love that I had no idea what this book was about going into it and came away overjoyed.